In the heart of Nigeria's enchanting Plateau State, nestled amidst rolling hills and breathtaking vistas, lies a cultural jewel, The Ngas People - who are founders of the Pusdung Festival. This annual celebration, a tapestry woven with history, tradition, and unshakable community bonds, is the hallmark of the Ngas people's rich heritage. As we embark on this journey, we'll unveil the magic of Pusdung, peeling back the layers to reveal its deep significance, intricate rituals, and the vibrant cultural mosaic that beckons all seekers of Nigeria's diverse heritage.
Meet the Ngas people, or the Angas, guardians of Plateau State's fertile lands. Their agrarian lifestyle has been their lifeline, and their presence can be felt across several local government areas in the state. Yet, it's their rich cultural heritage that truly sets them apart. The Pusdung Festival is a testament to their unwavering devotion to their traditions, a calling that beckons friends and family from every corner of Nigeria, especially during the Easter season when the festival unfurls its colors.
Once a modest day-long event, Pusdung has transformed over the years into a week-long extravaganza. Its potential to elevate Plateau State's tourism profile as the "Home of Peace Tourism" is undeniable by Mr. Emmanuel Manasa, Chairman of the Ngas Youth Movement in 1988, this festival is more than just a celebration. It's a heartfelt expression of gratitude to God for the season and a plea for blessings on the land and the season. Joy, reflection, and unity infuse every moment, setting the stage for other festivals that would later grace this remarkable state.
The ruling Governor of the state, graces this event as a sign of honor and respect to the people and the culture as well as to promote cultural heritage, the presence of the Governor connotes unity and oneness of the Ngas people and other tribes of the Plateau State. He would preach the gospel of togetherness, economy growth and security in the land, also advice's the young adults to be hardworking and be diligent in whatever they decide to do or they find themselves doing as true sons and daughters of the soil. There would be discussions on security issues and how the people should keep themselves safe.
There would then be introduction of other dignitaries and guest speakers who would also give their piece to the society and share valuable ideas that would foster growth in the land and in the welfare of the people. Top people in the society or professional in different fields would also give their speech and encourage the people to strive for a good community.
Months ahead of Pusdung, the Ngas people stir with excitement. The rhythms of music and various beat of dance rehearsals fill the air. Preparation isn't just about clothes and appearances; it's a statement of pride. Ladies meticulously plan their dresses, shoes, and hairstyles. Meanwhile, young men ensure their attire and haircuts are impeccable for the grand day. Young women engage in fierce dance competitions, with the coveted prize bestowed by the attending governor. It's an arena for networking, forging new friendships, and sometimes, the spark that ignites lifelong partnerships.The festival commences with a solemn prayer for blessings upon the land and its people. Distinguished guests are introduced, and the program unfolds. Musicians take the stage, serenading the crowd with an array of genres and traditional instruments. The governor, as the state's first citizen, graces the occasion, reaffirming his support and commitment to his people and their culture.
Pusdung is a kaleidoscope of color and movement. Men and women adorned in vibrant traditional attire take to the floor in energetic traditional dances. Drums beat in unison, while xylophones, flutes, horns, and the resounding "banga" drum create a mesmerizing symphony. The youth, in particular, infuse the celebration with their exuberance and whole-hearted dances, making it a true spectacle.
Throughout the week of the festival, several kind of activities related to the event are carried out to keep the community buzzing and entertaining, the people of the community contributes to whatever their roles are towards the success of the event; some people decides to cook and share kunu to their neighbors, friends,relatives and even to strangers out of love.
The cultural dance group performs with their various instruments, dress styles and music styles to entertain the people, the above is a picture of Dantala and Group giving the audience a thrilling performance, with their traditional flutes and other instruments,alongside their traditional costumes.
Pusdung isn't just about dancing and music; it's a grand feast where traditional Ngas delicacies are generously shared among the community and guests. This communal dining fortifies bonds and fosters unity. Local brews flow, and children revel in the festivities, forming cherished memories.
Artifacts and entrepreneurship also shine during Pusdung. Ngas entrepreneurs showcase their goods, arts, crafts, and products, both local and beyond. A spirited competition, especially among women and youth, challenges them to pitch their unique business ideas. Experts in economics share insights, spurring economic growth.
******Elders of the community lead in prayers and invocations, thanking their gods for the season and seeking protection and prosperity for the times ahead. Traditional attire shines, with women displaying intricate beadwork and fabric weaving, while men don feathered headdresses and animal skin garments.
As the cultural feast draws to a close, hearts are full, and unity reigns. Anticipation for the next Pusdung Festival fills the air.
The Pusdung Festival, held dearly in the embrace of Plateau State, stands as a resounding celebration of unity, culture, and thanksgiving. It bridges generations, fortifies community bonds, and displays the unbreakable spirit of the Ngas people's cultural heritage. This festival, a living testament to Nigeria's rich tapestry of diverse cultures and traditions, beckons all those who seek to explore the mosaic of this great nation. Beyond the vibrant dances and delicious feasts, it is a journey into the heart of a community that cherishes its roots and shares its treasures with open arms.
Photo Credit: courtesy of Dantala and Group Facebook page
Photo Credit: courtesy of echo naija news
Photo Credit: courtesy of Iwaria images
Lami Sadiq, Jos ( 2019); PUSDUNG: Taking A New Dimension On Cultural Fiesta
Nendimma D Gonet (2018); The Ngas People: history, traditions and world views