Here's what it is like to attend Durbar Festival, one of Nigeria’s most colourful events

Business Insider Sub Saharan Africa takes you inside the Durbar festival, a major tourist attraction that attracts attendees from various parts of the country and the world.

Horsemen take part in the Durbar festival parade in Zaria, Nigeria September 14, 2016.

Nigeria is home to various rich and diverse events. One of such occasions is the Durbar Festival, which is celebrated every year in almost all the 19 states of Northern Nigeria. These states include Kano, Katsina, Zaria and Sokoto.

Originally associated with wartime allegiance (soldiers on horses parading before the Emir, the military general and prince), it is now an extremely colourful event typically used to mark the end of Ramadan and Sallah.

Following the recently concluded durbar festival, Business Insider Sub Saharan Africa had a chat with Dame Yinka, a Nigerian Travel, Food and Culture Blogger who attended the event in Kaduna. Here is what she had to tell us:

Business Insider Sub Saharan Africa (BISSA): The Dubar is held in several Northern states, which one did you go to and how did you get there?

Dame Yinka: "I went to the one in Kaduna. For the sake of adventure and experience, I took a night bus from Lagos — Abuja then a train from Abuja to Kaduna. It took approximately 14 hours from Lagos to Abuja, then three hours from Abuja — Kaduna."

BISSA: Tell us all about the festival? What was it like to experience this colourful event? 

Yinka: "Durbar Festival is very similar to Ogun State’s Ojude Oba. It is a regal festival full of colours, showmanship, craftsmanship. Communities come together to put on a great show for their Emir!!!"

"Communities dramatically display their collective skill, be it Hunting, Farming, Music and Crafts. According to locals, the festival is determined by the sighting of the ‘New Moon’ crescent. The festival starts on the first day of the Sallah holiday and runs through the Islamic celebration."

BISSA: We know about the regally adorned horses, the horsemen, what was the highlight for you?

Yinka: "Everything that happens in Durbar is a highlight. The horses and horsemen in matching colourful, regal attires and a band of footmen who displayed one skill or another stole the show. Every community had a different story to tell, each one descriptively highlighting the communal occupation. And there was this group of boys who displayed a designed replica of the Emir’s palace."

BISSA: What impressed and shocked you the most?

Yinka: "Everything impressed me, it was my first Durbar experience. The diversity in their display and the boldness in Northern design and fashion. I was disappointed by the lack of participation of women at the festival. All the showpeople in the community display I saw were men."

BISSA: Any advice for attendees?

Yinka: "You should expect a lot of security as the event was heavily guarded. All sects from the Nigerian forces were present and alert. To get there, you can reach Kaduna from Abuja via the railway or the Abuja-Kaduna road if it is safer before next year. If you would like to experience this? Just do it!"


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