The Gade natives of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), have a rich culture and tradition just like other ethnic groups in Nigeria. Despite the fact that urbanization has changed their environment and landscape, they still hold on to their cultural norms and values, and find time to showcase and celebrate their unique festivals.
These Gade natives, who are predominantly farmers in Kuje area council, are among the nine indigenous groups in the Federal Capital Territory.
On Saturday April 21, 2018, the Kuje mini township stadium, which was the venue of the event, was filled to the brim as people especially the Gade natives trooped out in large numbers with their various masquerades and local musicians, to display and entertain the mammoth crowd and some dignitaries at the stadium.
The cultural festival, which was organized by Gade Development And Cultural Association (GADECO), tagged “national Gade cultural festival” attracted prominent sons and daughters of the Gade ethnic groups, including traditional rulers, technocrats, academicians and top politicians, such as Senator Usman Jibrin Wowo, Senator Suleiman Adokwe, former commissioner in Nasarawa state, Alhaji Usman D. Bagudu and among others.
Speaking at the event, the Gomo of Kuje, Alhaji Haruna Jibrin Tanko, who was the chief host, said the cultural festival was organized in order to bring all sons and daughters of the Gade ethnic group all over the world together under one umbrella.
He noted that the Gade in the FCT have a rich cultural heritage that has been lying fallow and un-tapped over the years, so as to showcase and uplift the status and cultural relevance of the Gade people in the contemporary Nigeria , and to trace and restore the historical and cultural background/values of the Gade people.
He said that the origin of Gade people could be traced back to the language family at the Congo-Niger Basin, and he said its first ancestors were called ‘Adakpu.’
According to him, Adakpu migrated from the Congo-Niger Basin through Sudan to Kano area in the year 1068 and settled in the Gadawur area, in the present Jigawa State, with their leader ‘Gakingakuma’ during the reign of Tsamiya, the then Emir of Kano, till 1075 when Bagaudu ascended to the throne as emir.
“And it was as a result of the death of the Gade leader, Gakingakuma, which led to the mass exodus of the people from Kano to the Doma area in the present Nasarawa State. Today, the Gade tribe is predominantly found in the FCT and some parts of Nasarawa and Niger states,” he said.
He said the Gade people have farming, hunting and weaving as their main occupation, in addition to other activities they engage in to provide food for their families and for economic purposes.
He added that the Gade natives of the FCT do not only see their culture as a link between them and their fore fathers and origin, saying the Gade people see their culture as their way of life and also as part of their pride, identity and heritage among various classifications in Nigeria and Africa as a whole.
“And let me draw your attention to the fact that we have been celebrating these cultural activities in our various localities but decided to make it a national and an elaborate event, as a way of selling our cultures to the global village,” he said.
Tanko, however, stated that the Gade culture will provide a platform for social, cultural and economic prosperity among the people, through tourism, trade and industry.
The traditional ruler therefore, called on the youth to shun all forms of social vices that will embarrass the Gade tribe, and embrace education at all levels, which he said was a means of livelihood.
In his speech, Senator Suleiman Adokwe, who was the chairman of the occasion, said he felt greatly honoured to be invited as the chairman of the occasion.
He said he wondered why he was chosen as the chairman of the event, even as he said “I speculated on the fact that I am an ‘Alago’ man from Kwararafa and therefore, share with you in the fact we are all from Kwararafa and have the common culture,” he said.
He congratulated the Gade natives of the FCT for their effort towards upholding their culture and traditions, saying festivals are periodic celebrations that exist among various ethnic groups across the world that have great impact in the society.
He noted that it was through such cultural festivals that friendships are renewed and these bring unity and peace among such ethnic groups in the society.
The FCT minister, Muhammad Musa Bello, who was represented by his special assistant on community relations at the occasion, Abuzarri Ribadu, also commended the Gade natives for embracing their culture and traditions.
He said he was impressed with the Gade natives for their commitment to showcase their culture and tradition.He said such cultural exhibition was not only for the FCT but the world at large.
He said he was delighted to be part of the Gade cultural festival, saying the role of culture in carving identity by people cannot be over emphasized.
The minister said the Gade natives are peace loving people that have made viable contributions to the development of Nigeria in general and Abuja in particular.
“The greatest duty of every generation is always to bequeath to them their culture and identity for the younger generation to come and emulate,” he said.
Also speaking, a former FCT senator, Usman Jibrin Wowo, said the Gade cultural festival would go a long way to contribute towards not only peaceful co-existence among the Gade natives of the FCT, but other ethnic groups across the territory.
According to him, cultural festivals are one of the pillars of ensuring peace within the Africans, saying the Gade cultural exhibition also signifies that the Gade’s are a peace loving and accommodating people.
“And I am sure if there is no peace and unity among we, the Gade people, which cut across various communities of Kuje area council, it will not be easy to see this kind of crowd that gathered here today,” he said.
In his goodwill message, a former commissioner under the late former governor of Nasarawa state, Alhaji Usman Danlami Bagudu, said there was no doubt that the Gade culture and tradition has been dormant for some years, saying the move by the Gade association to revive their traditions was a good move.
He said the importance of culture to any people all over the world cannot be over emphasized, saying people would lose their identity and history when they are not attached to their culture and traditions.
He called on Gade (Babye) people and its elites both at home and abroad to commit themselves to the pursuit of the educational advancement of their people.
“Therefore, we must uphold our culture in all its ramifications, as this cultural festival is thus aimed at showcasing our famous and cherished cultural heritage,” he said.