Katsina State Festivals & Games


Traditionally, the people of Katsina State have quite a number of unique norms, values and customs inherited and passed from generation to generation. Among the foremost traditions found in the State are the Festivals & Games.

The Gani is an annual cultural festival celebrated in the ancient city of Daura. The Festival derives its name from the Hausa word ‘Gani’ meaning “meeting”.

But with the introduction of Islam, Gani festival took a new form of an Islamic festival of Eid-el Maulud to commemorate the birth of Prophet Muhammad (SAW).  The occasion is celebrated with a colourful durbar led by the Emir amidst drumming, singing, dancing, acrobatic displays and comedy.  Other sides of attraction include a display of horsemanship, costumes, attires and historical artifacts.  Gani is celebrated every 12th of Rabiul Awwal of the Islamic calendar.

The word ‘Sallah’ originated from the Arabic word ‘Salat’, which means prayer.  But the word is also used in Hausa to refer to the festivities that takes place during the Eid-el fitr and Eid-el Kabir which include a colourful durbar popularly called “Hawan Sallah”.  The Durbar is led by the Emir the purpose of the Durbar is to express joy and happiness for the Sallah day and to entertain people on the cultural and historical heritage of the people of Katsina.  Besides this, it is regarded as a mark of homage and loyalty by the District Heads to the Emir.  The durbar also served to unite the people, bring them closer to Government, and give them opportunity to listen to policy statement at firsthand.  Ummarun Dallaje the first Fulani Emir of Katsina who reigned from 1807 to 1835 introduced Hawan Sallah according to historical traditions.

Fishing is one of the major occupations of the Hausa people.  It has been in existence since time immemorial and practiced mainly by people who live along the banks of rivers, lakes and large streams.

Jaci is a small village in Mani Local Government areas of the State.  It is located along a major waterway popularly known as ‘Fadamar Jaci’.

The Late Emir of Katsina Muhammadu Dikko initiated Jaci fishing festival around 1905 when he was the District Head of Mani.  He was said to have developed interest for the site whereby he goes there annually for fishing and hunting in the dry season.

After his death, his successor Alhaji Usman Nagogo (1944 – 1981) intended to continue with this tradition initiated by his father.  Hence, he continued with the annual visit to the site for the fishing and hunting in company of British Colonial officials resident in Katsina.  During the annual gathering fishermen gathered at the site from different parts of the defunct Katsina Province and from the neighbouring Niger Republic.  However, shortly before the death of Alhaji Sir Usman Nagogo the festival is said to have ceased temporarily until it was revived in the year 2000.

It is a post harvest youth festival performed in many villages and town across the State to express happiness for a successful completion of cropping season and to celebrate the coming of ‘Kaka’, which is a time of prosperity in terms of food and increased economic and social activities.

It also provides an opportunity for the youth to choose marriage partners.  However, the Kalankuwa in Katsina as we know it today is said to have started around 1935.  It takes place annually in villages like Shinkafi, Dankanjiba, Dutsen Safe, Rimin Guza, etc.

One of the most important activities during the early stages of Kalankuwa is a kind of drama in which the youth imitate the Hausa traditional form of authority, which emphasize the role of Sarki (King) as the political head of the community as well as the custodian of the people’s culture.  Also in the Kalankuwa traditional wrestling, boxing, singing and dancing takes place.


Kokowa (traditional wrestling) is regarded as one of the oldest traditional sports in Hausaland. We have no information about the time of its introduction, but it might have probably emerged as an integral part of the pre-Islamic informal education, which emphasize physical exercise and training as a vital took for producing strong and healthy citizen.

Traditionally, Kokowa season is after millet harvest. During such time, wrestlers move in groups from one village to another in company of their drummers. Kokowa has always been part of activities like Kalankuwa and other festivals. Special contest used to be organized to mark special occasions such as marriage or naming ceremonies, installation of new leadership or to celebrate the coming of important guests. Today however, Kokowa has become a profession and could be organized at anytime or season of the year. “Yan Kokowa or wrestlers are found in all the local government areas of the State.

The primary aim of Dambe is to entertain people and obtain popularity. In the olden days people engaged in Dambe not for any material gain but to make a name.
During the Dambe proper, contestants normally start with Gaisuwa or ‘Raba-rana’. This involves the two boxers coming close to each other and putting their two hands together. At this point all drumming and singing is expected to stop for a while. A boxer is declared defeated when he falls flat on the ground, or if one or two of his hands touches the ground or if he falls on one or both knees.

The period 1965 to 1985 could be regarded as important in the history of Dambe in Katsina State. It was during this period that a set of prominent ‘yan dambe were produced in the state which in turn mode Katsina to become widely known as important centre of Dambe.

Dambe is widely played in Katsina especially after the rainy season of every year.

Sharo or ‘Shadi’ is a traditional game associated with Fulani herdsmen who lived in Katsina and Daura areas as well as other part of Hausaland prior to the great jihad of Danfodio in 1804.
The game of Sharo takes place annually during ‘Kaka’ (post harvest time) in places like Shargalle in Dutsi Local Government of the State, Mashi town of Mashi Local Government Area, Batsari town in Batsari Local Government Area of the State, “Yandaki in Kaita Local Government Area of the State, and a host of other towns scattered around the State.

The game of sharo involves beatings of the upper abdomen between two individual using a long stick called “lasol”. The purpose of the game is to afford young girls the opportunity to choose a potential husband. Others include teaching the young the art of combat, self-defense, endurance, fearlessness and bravery. The rest include to preserve the age long cultural heritage and generally to unite the Fulbe (Fulani). Sharo according to historical accounts is believed to have been introduced in Katsina State by the earliest Fulbe settlers who arrived between the 17th and 18th century.

Polo is a game in which players hit the golf into a goal using long handled hammers (sticks) like other games; two challenging teams of four players each play polo.
One British Juge called Sheridon introduced Polo in Katsina in 1921 during the reign of Emir Muhammadu Dikko. He was the introducer and the first instructor. The first players were Katsina princes and their associates such as Usman Nagogo, Ibrahim Galadiman Magani, Yusuf Lamba and Dandada. Others are Durbi Umaru, Sarkin Sullubawa, Sarkin Musawa Usman Liman, Magaji ‘Yanhoho, Alhaji Hussaini and Abdullahi Autan Dikko.

Within a short time the Katsina Polo Club was formed which later became the most popular in Africa.

Katsina being the home of polo in Nigeria, boast of a polo ground of international standard. It was constructed in 1926. The polo ground has excellent physical structures such as grandstand, popular stand, timekeeper stand, gymnasium, scoreboard, stable, main filed, club horse, a mosque and a modern gate.
The Katsina Polo Tournament is held every September. It draws participants from all polo clubs in the country and beyond. The tournament opens the polo season each year. Worthy of note is the Presidentship, which is dedicated to the Emirs of Katsina on life basis, no election is held.