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The Bauchi Durbar Festival Is Nothing Like You’ve Ever Experienced

The 2017 Bauchi Durbar festival took place on the 26th of June, a day after the Eid celebration. It was a day full of pomp and pageantry as the indigenes came out in droves to celebrate their rich cultural heritage. Alternatively referred to as Hawan Daushe, the annual festival is also held in Northern states like Kano, Katsina, Sokoto and Kaduna, to mention a few.

Historically, the colonial administrators introduced the Durbar in 1911 and it has been practiced for over 100 years in the Northern part of Nigeria.

Beautifully adorned men at the Durbar festival

The administrators had a political reason in mind for introducing the festival because it represented the use of horses in wars and combat. However, the event turned into a more ceremonial festival over the years and it is marked during the Eid-al-Fitr celebration. The Durbar is carried out by the Emir, his council members and district heads to pay homage to the Governor of the state.

Chioma Obuekwe on a horse

The Bauchi Durbar was a magnificent and thrilling event with thousands of elaborately adorned and decorated horses and equally adorned horse riders in their traditional regalia. The event commenced from the government house with Eid prayers, the national anthem, opening addresses from the Emir and Governor and then to the parade on the streets. Each group and emirate was ably represented in the festival each displaying their traditional attires, traditional dance or something unique to their group; some groups even displayed different types of animals like baboons, hyenas, camels and pythons.

A group of young guard

There were also jesters, gun salutes, stick fights, knife plays, various stunts and interesting demonstrations. The children were not left out as some groups had young boys most likely with royal heritage as horse riders. Some horse riders allowed tourists to take pictures on top of their horses or with them which was very exciting for the tourists as they felt like a part of the festival. The parade of the Emir and his entourage was one of the major highlights of the display as it evoked spirited emotions from the various emirates as he rode past.
Overall, the Durbar festival was indeed an exhilarating experience that tells a good narrative about the rich Nigerian culture and tradition.

Here is what some of the tourists had to say about their experience at the Durbar festival:
Vivian Ibeh – I had little or no expectation going to the Durbar festival, so imagine my surprise when I started seeing horses and their riders well fitted in embellished materials looking regal like a scene from an Arabian movie.


The roads were lined with excited spectators like us who came to see and cheer on the various emirates as they made their presentations. The Durbar festival was like nothing I had experienced before. It was so colourful and showed the rich culture of the Bauchi people. The people were also nice to us and would stop by our group to allow us take good pictures. I am happy I was able to partake in such a beautiful festival.

Beautifully adorned horsemen at the Durbar festival

Sidamanya Samson- For me it was refreshing to see the different display of attires and their in-depth value for culture. The people were very receptive and it was really a wonderful thing to be part of this experience.

The Emir at the Durbar

Francis Orjika – Witnessing the Durbar festival was an amazing experience for me. The parade of the Emir and his entourage riding horses was a sight to behold. We the tourists recreated the scene by mounting on the horses to represent the Durbar warriors. It was definitely an intriguing festival. I enjoyed the sights and the sounds.

Beautifully adorned horsemen at the Durbar festival

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