Sustaining Community Peace: Nigeria Resumes Annual Afan Festival of Art and Culture

Naomi MacMurdie
February 20, 2024
A man in a red robe from Nigeria, sustaining community peace.

Musicians from different tribes perform at the Afan Festival in Kagoro.

Global Peace Foundation (GPF) Nigeria and the Kagoro Development Association worked collaboratively to resume the annual Afan Festival on January 1, 2024. After a four-year pause and a decade of subdued celebrations, this year marked a poignant revival of the festival.

GPF Nigeria played a central role in resurrecting the festival. Ongoing programs and meetings have helped douse tensions between tribes and people from different ethnoreligious backgrounds, building trust and promoting social cohesion. Within the last few years, GPF Nigeria also formed the Kagoro Peace and Reconciliation Committee and the Women Cooperative Societies, which is instilling confidence in communities to become active participants in fostering peaceful coexistence.

 

A group of women holding signs that say one family under god, promoting community peace in Nigeria during the Afan Festival.

Festival goers show support for One Family under God.

Celebrating cultural diversity, the festival attracts people from across Nigeria. Village heads, chiefs, cultural troupes, organizations, and hundreds of men, women, youth, and children were welcomed by his highness Oegwam Oegworok.

A group of people participating in the Afan Festival in Nigeria, come together to hold a check in front of a camera as a symbol of community peace.

GPF Nigeria presents check to support Women’s Cooperative Societies at the Afan Festival.

A man in a red costume holding a shield represents the spirit of Afan Festival in Nigeria, fostering community peace and unity.

Festival participants in traditional dress.

The President of the Gworok Development Association, Prof. Gambo Giles Duniya, opened the festival with recognition of the “courage, resilience and sacrifices of the sons and daughters of the land both home and abroad” to bring back the significant event. “This event signifies a promising commencement towards a year of fruitful endeavors and enduring peace for the Kagoro community and Southern Kaduna at large,” Prof. Gambo said.

Rev. John Joseph Hayab, the Country Director of GPF Nigeria, and Sheikh Halliru Abdullahi Maraya, GPF Nigeria Northern Coordinator, addressed festival-goers together, reminding participants that all humanity—though different in religion, tribe, and ethnicity—are members of one family under God. “Exactly twelve months ago, our organization, in collaboration with the traditional council and Kagoro Development Association, held an inter-religious prayer session on this same ground,” said Rev. Hayab, “And today, we are all here to witness this unique festival.”

 

A community of people in Nigeria, united in peace and joy, raising their arms up in the air.

Festival goers dancing during the annual Afan Festival.

A group of people from Nigeria holding up a sign promoting community peace.

Festival goers show support for One Family under God.

Rev. Hayab highlighted GPF Nigeria’s work in empowering women as key stakeholders in fostering peace in the country. GPF Nigeria’s ongoing work with the Women’s Cooperative Societies hopes to give women a voice in their families and communities. Rev. Hayab encouraged participants to join hands in alleviating suffering and reducing poverty, particularly among women, in order for them to take their place as leaders in peacebuilding.

A group of men in blue robes performing at the Afan Festival in Nigeria, playing a flute to foster sustaining community peace.

Musicians from different tribes perform at the Afan Festival in Kagoro.

Adding his voice to the conversation, Sheikh Maraya said the Kagoro Chiefdom was an appropriate venue for the inclusive festival sharing that the people are loving and peaceful. “I have often visited Kagoro and not once was shown any form of discrimination or disrespect, even as a Muslim,” said Sheikh Maraya. He expressed gratitude for the community’s inclusive nature, highlighting the festival’s symbolism as a beacon of hope and unity, transcending cultural and religious barriers.

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