The Akata Benue Fishing Festival | A Time for Community and Camaraderie

The Akata Benue Fishing Festival| A Time for Community and Camaraderie

The Akata Festival is a fishing festival common among the Akata people.[1] Akata is located at Katsina-Ala local government Area in Benue State, Nigeria.[2] It is an annual festival celebration, and a fishing competition festival practiced among the Tiv, Etulo and Jukun fishermen where the fisherman with the highest catch is rewarded handsomely. This competition also reveals different fishing skills, as the competition is on-going, dances and drums with different practices by the community are performed.[3][4]

The Festival is said to open the mind of individuals and organisations and widen their scopes and see streams of business opportunities to annex in Benue State. The festival stands as a medium to open families, Investors, companies, decision makers, and tourists to what the community can offer.

The History of the Akata Benue Fishing Festival

The Akata Benue Fishing Festival is a celebration of the rich culture and tradition of the people of the Benue region in Nigeria. The festival has a long and fascinating history that dates back centuries. It is believed that the festival began as a way for the people of the Benue region to honor the river that had sustained them for generations.

The river provided them with fish, which was a staple food, and also played an important role in their religious beliefs and practices.

The festival has evolved over the years to become one of the most popular cultural events in the region. It is now celebrated annually, usually in the months of August and September. The festival is a time for people to come together, celebrate their heritage, and enjoy the bountiful gifts of the river.

In the past, the festival was an opportunity for young men to showcase their fishing skills and compete for prizes. Today, the festival has taken on a more inclusive tone, and people of all ages and backgrounds are welcome to participate. It is a time for the entire community to come together and celebrate their shared history and culture.

Despite the festival’s long history, it is still very much relevant in today’s world. It serves as a reminder of the important role that fishing and the river play in the lives of the people of the Benue region. It also showcases the rich culture and traditions of the region, and attracts visitors from around the world who come to experience the festival’s unique blend of music, dance, and food.

What to Expect at the Akata Benue Fishing Festival

The Akata Benue Fishing Festival is a vibrant and colorful event that attracts visitors from all over the region. Here’s what you can expect to see and experience at the festival:

  • Traditional Clothing: You will be surrounded by men and women dressed in traditional clothing made from vibrant Ankara and Adire fabrics.
  • Dancing and Music: Expect to hear lively traditional music and see energetic dances from different tribes and communities.
  • Local Crafts and Souvenirs: The festival offers an opportunity to purchase authentic local crafts, jewelry, and souvenirs.
  •  Competitive Fishing: The highlight of the festival is the fishing competition. It’s a fascinating sight to watch fishermen and women using traditional methods to catch the biggest fish in the river.
  • Food Stalls: Delicious local dishes, such as pounded yam, Egusi soup, and fisherman soup, are available for sale at food stalls set up throughout the festival grounds.
  • Historical and Cultural Displays: Exhibits showcasing the rich history and cultural heritage of the region are on display.
  • Guided Tours: You can take guided tours of the local community and witness firsthand the way of life in rural areas.
  • Local Hospitality: The festival attracts a friendly crowd, and locals are known for their hospitality and warmth towards visitors.

    The Akata Benue Fishing Festival is a must-visit event for anyone interested in African culture and tradition. Don’t miss the opportunity to immerse yourself in the local community and experience the rich heritage of the region.


Yearly, the new festival tends to add more activities or details during the planning period by the committees, so as to improve the quality of the festival and the impart in the community life, yet some things are fixed such as the fishing and dancing activities. The Fishing event which is the main and primary focus of the festival helps to plant the love of fishing into young and growing ones, and also activate the burning desire of kids who have always wanted to go fishing but have no advantage or opportunity to do so, at this festival, they are provided with the advantage to join the fishing competition. This festival has always been an ignite to the passion of young men to Fishing.[7]

Likewise, outside the Fishing events are more other educative events that takes place during this festival, some of this events are: Business Conference, Learning how to cook your catch professional cooking demonstration, Made in Benue Expo, Showcasing Fishing Tackle and Equipment Display, Hands-on-Fish focus.[8]

The Entertainment events are: Wrestling, Power Bike Racing, Dancing, Boat Racing, Beauty Pageant, Arrow Shooting, Gala/Award Night, Cultural and Entertainment Night

Traditional Ceremonies and Performances

The Akata Benue Fishing Festival is not just a celebration of the art and science of fishing, but also a showcase of the rich cultural heritage of the people of Benue State. Traditional ceremonies and performances play a vital role in the festival, adding to its vibrancy and color.

One of the most prominent ceremonies is the “Uje Ucha” or “Dance of the Fish.” During this ceremony, the fishermen perform a special dance to honor the spirits of the river and seek their blessings for a bountiful catch. The dance is characterized by synchronized movements and rhythmic beats of drums and other musical instruments. Spectators are often mesmerized by the beauty and grace of the dance.

Another popular ceremony is the “Igbamgba” or “Harvest Ceremony.” This ceremony marks the end of the fishing season and the beginning of a new one. The fishermen offer sacrifices to the gods and ancestors, thanking them for their protection and guidance throughout the season. The ceremony is usually accompanied by feasting, music, and dance.

Other traditional performances include masquerade dances, folklore storytelling, and traditional music performances. These performances provide a glimpse into the rich cultural heritage of the Benue people and serve as a reminder of the importance of preserving and celebrating our cultural roots.

Attending these ceremonies and performances is a must for anyone who wants to fully experience the Akata Benue Fishing Festival. They offer a unique opportunity to witness the traditions and customs of the local people and gain a deeper appreciation for their way of life.

The Art and Science of Fishing

Fishing is an art form that has been passed down from generation to generation among the people of Akata Benue. The fishing festival celebrates this important aspect of the local culture.

There are many different techniques that are used by the fishermen of Akata Benue. Some use nets to catch fish, while others prefer to use a rod and line. The fishermen have a deep understanding of the habits and behavior of different fish species, which allows them to choose the best location and method for their catch.

During the festival, visitors can watch the fishermen at work and even try their hand at fishing themselves. The festival is a great opportunity to learn more about the traditional fishing practices of Akata Benue and gain an appreciation for the art and science of fishing.

It is important to note that the people of Akata Benue place a strong emphasis on sustainability and conservation. Fish stocks are carefully monitored to ensure that they are not depleted, and there are strict regulations in place to protect the local ecosystem. Visitors to the festival are encouraged to respect these guidelines and to learn more about the importance of sustainable fishing practices.

Overall, the fishing festival of Akata Benue offers a unique and fascinating insight into the art and science of fishing. Whether you are an experienced angler or a curious tourist, this event is sure to provide an unforgettable experience.

Delicious Local Cuisine

One of the highlights of attending the Akata Benue Fishing Festival is getting to experience the mouth-watering local cuisine. From fish-based dishes to traditional delicacies, the festival provides a unique opportunity to sample some of the region’s most delicious offerings.

Fish is the main ingredient in most dishes, as it is the star of the festival. Whether smoked, grilled, fried or stewed, you are bound to find a fish dish that satisfies your taste buds. Some of the popular fish dishes at the festival include Eja Owukpa, which is fish prepared in tomato and pepper sauce, and Eja Iro, a fish stew cooked with palm oil and vegetables.

Aside from fish-based dishes, visitors can also try other traditional foods such as pounded yam, egusi soup, and yam porridge. There are also various street vendors selling snacks like roasted maize, plantain chips, and groundnuts.

To wash it all down, you can try local drinks like palm wine, kunu, and zobo. These refreshing beverages are made from natural ingredients and have a distinct taste that is hard to forget.

Overall, the Akata Benue Fishing Festival is not only a feast for the eyes but also for the taste buds. It is an opportunity to immerse yourself in the local culture, sample some of the finest cuisine, and make unforgettable memories.

Cultural and Historical Significance

The Akata Benue Fishing Festival is not just a fun-filled event but also an important cultural and historical tradition. For the Idoma people of Benue state in Nigeria, fishing is a way of life and has been for centuries. The festival celebrates the cultural heritage and the unique lifestyle of the Idoma people.

It is said that the festival dates back to the 13th century when the Idoma people migrated from the Congo basin to their current location in the Benue valley. They were skilled fishermen and they developed their unique fishing techniques over the years. The festival, therefore, serves as a reminder of their roots and a celebration of their traditions.

The festival also has a historical significance as it represents the victory of the Idoma people over their neighboring communities. Legend has it that there was a time when the Idoma people were under constant attacks from their neighboring tribes. The men went to war, leaving the women and children behind. The women had to fend for themselves and one of the ways they survived was through fishing. They became skilled fishermen and used their catch to feed their families and the community. This victory was a turning point in the history of the Idoma people and it is celebrated to this day.

In addition, the festival also provides an opportunity for the younger generation to learn about their culture and heritage. The traditional dances, music, and ceremonies are all part of the festival and are passed down from generation to generation. It is a way of preserving the cultural identity of the Idoma people.

Overall, the Akata Benue Fishing Festival is not just a fun event, but also a reminder of the rich cultural and historical heritage of the Idoma people. It is an opportunity to celebrate their traditions, pass them down to the next generation, and showcase them to the world.

Tips for Attending the Festival

  •  Plan ahead: Make sure to research the festival and its location well in advance. Find out what accommodations are available and book early, as the festival is a popular event and lodging options can fill up quickly.
  • Dress appropriately: The festival is a cultural event, so be sure to dress appropriately. You may want to wear traditional clothing or something respectful and comfortable for the climate. Also, make sure to bring sun protection, as the festival takes place outdoors.
  • Be respectful: As a visitor, it’s important to respect the culture and traditions of the festival. Observe and participate in the festivities with an open mind and without judgement.
  • Stay safe: The festival can get crowded, so keep an eye on your belongings and be aware of your surroundings. Also, take precautions against the sun and other environmental hazards.
  • Participate in the activities: Take advantage of the unique opportunities the festival has to offer. Join in on the traditional ceremonies and performances, try your hand at fishing, and sample the local cuisine.

Attending the Akata Benue Fishing Festival can be a once-in-a-lifetime experience. By planning ahead, dressing appropriately, being respectful, staying safe, and participating in the activities, you’ll be able to fully immerse yourself in the cultural and historical significance of this special event.

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