Afan National Festival | A Time for Peace and Harmony

Afan National Festival

The Afan National Festival is an annual event celebrated every 1 January by the Oegworok (Kagoro) people of southern Kaduna State, Middle Belt (central) Nigeria. It is said to have been observed for over 400 years. The festival holds every January 1 in the palace of the Chief of Kagoro in the Kaura Local Government Area of Northern States.
The Gworok (Kagoro) Hills.

The word A̠fan means “mountain” or “hill” in Tyap. The large towering hills of Gworok are known as A̠fan A̠gworok (also styled Oefan Oegworok) among the natives. The glamorous hills are situated at an altitude circa 1,246 meters above sea level. Large trees grow on the hills with a rocky base. The weather of the area is significantly influenced by the hills and the climate is similar to that of the Jos Plateau and the Mambila Plateau, with heavy rainfall in the spring. In the early days, the Agworok people lived in the caves and atop the hill ranges for centuries before gradually settling at the foot of the mountain and finally driven down almost entirely by the British colonialist in the early 20th century although communities yet exist atop the hills. The hills provided the people security from foreign Invaders and also harbours a sacred bee colonies from when we unauthorized invasion is met with bee stings on a victim especially when such a one wears a perfume.

History of Afan Festival Carnival

The Lenten period of the Liturgical year Church calendar, being the six weeks directly before Easter, was marked by fasting and other pious or penitential practices. Traditionally during Lent, no parties or other celebrations were held, and people refrained from eating rich foods, such as meat, dairy, fats and sugar. The forty days of Lent, recalling the Gospel accounts of the forty days that Jesus spent in the wilderness, serve to mark an annual time of turning. In the days before Lent, all rich food and drink had to be disposed of. The consumption of this, in a giant party that involved the whole community, is thought to be the origin of Carnival.
While it forms an integral part of the Christian calendar, particularly in Catholic regions, some carnival traditions may date back to pre-Christian times. The ancient Roman festivals of Saturnalia and Bacchanalia may possibly have been absorbed into the Italian Carnival. The Saturnalia, in turn, may be based on the Greek Dionysia and Oriental festivals. While medieval pageants and festivals such as Corpus Christi were church-sanctioned celebrations, carnival was also a manifestation of medieval folk culture. Many local carnival customs are based on local pre-Christian rituals, for example the elaborate rites involving masked figures in the Swabian-Alemannic carnival.

Riderless Racers at Rome by Théodore Géricault. From the mid-15th century until 1882, spring carnival in Rome closed with a horse race. Fifteen to 20 riderless horses, originally imported from the Barbary Coast of North Africa, ran the length of the Via del Corso, a long, straight city street, in about 2½ minutes.
Some of the best-known traditions, including carnival parades and masquerade ball masquerading, were first recorded in medieval Italy. The carnival of Venice was for a long time the most famous carnival. From Italy, carnival traditions spread to the Catholic nations of Spain, Portugal, and France. From France, they spread to the Rhineland of Germany, and to New France in North America. From Spain and Portugal, they spread with Catholic colonization to the Caribbean and Latin America. In 1823 the first worldwide carnival parade took place in Cologne, Germany.
Other areas have developed their own traditions. In the United Kingdom, West Indian immigrants brought with them the traditions of Caribbean Carnival, however the Carnivals now celebrated at Notting Hill, London; Leeds, Yorkshire, and other places have become divorced from their cycle in the religious year, becoming purely secular events, that take place in the summer months.
The origin of the name “Carnival” is disputed, between those that argue a link with the Italian word “carne” (meat), and those that argue a link with the word “carrus” (car). The link with carne would suggest an origin within Christianity, while the link with carro with earlier religions.

The Emergence of Carnival in Afan Festival

With the overview of carnivals in the world it is pertinent at this juncture to mention that it is not too late to introduce the carnival style in the next Afan National Festival come January 1st, 2014. Though it might be an additional cost, it is better to give a trial than never starting. Carnivals could also be designed in such a way that it will portray the culture of the people of Kagoro. This calls for further in-depth study of the real culture of the ancient Kagoro folks. And modernizing it to suit the present generation; making it so captivating, attractive, interesting, and palatable for the eyes. Care has to be taken not to present a seductive, nude and display of vital seductive parts of the body. This may arouse sexual urge for passersby and spectators during the festival.
For instance, during the 2012 Calabar international Carnival, it was mentioned that three million condoms were to be distributed during the festival. The reason is not far-fetched; most of the participants (particularly ladies) were nude.

Afan festival Sponsorship

Afan festival has gone national and even international; the mode of sponsorship as it used to be was collections from a levy fixed on all Kagoro indigenes at home and in diaspora, contributions from well meaning Kagoro indigenes and political office holders, and government contribution that is nothing to write home about. Since Afan has grown to a national/international level, these levies might not be sufficient to cover the cost of hosting Afan Festival, and that the contributions and levies from these peasant farmers can never be sufficient enough to cover an international festival like Afan Festival. This calls for and/or seeking other means of sourcing funds to meet the annual growing cost of Afan National Festival.
Sponsoring the carnivals might be so exorbitant considering the attires and costumes used, comparing other festivals and carnivals. But, in most cases corporate organizations and multinational companies come in aid by way of sponsoring these carnivals in those states; and in some instances state governments have to increase their contribution to sponsoring and provision of costumes.
Approaching these multinationals involves a lot of bureaucracy, conviction (being able to convince them of at least some turn over, or marketing their product) and a lot of time and patience. But once it is established it becomes a normal routine annually. Kagoro sons and daughters that have links and connections on how to approach these multinationals could be approached, even those who are well placed in government both nationally and internationally.

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