Emmanuel Awari Jalingo
The entire Jukun Kona in Jalingo, Taraba State, Mayo Belwa and Demsa Local Governments of Adamawa State and in the Diaspora gathered in Kona Garu, Jalingo to celebrate their annual Harvest/Thanksgiving marking the commencement of the traditional New Year.
The twelfth month (VNI) or Shi Sanu) is set aside each year to mark the end of fasting, end of the year and celebration of abundant good harvest. It is a celebration that brings all Jukun Kona together including School Children, Traditional title holders to give thanks to God for seeing the day. During the festival activities are performed notably among them are Abannu and Kankani to have the first taste of harvest such as Bambara Nuts, Beans, Okra, Maize among others and also drumming, dancing and merriment.
The quest Speaker at the 2014 SHIE SANU celebration, Mr. Pius Isa gave brief history of the Jukun Kona, Whom he said first settled on the bank of the Benue some few kilometres south- west of present day Lau Local Government Area, at Kindong where they evolved a comprehensive, dynamic traditional and cultural norms that influenced most of the ethnic groups in the neighbourhood. According to him, the Jukun Kona evolved cultural system of government that had Kuru, King makers and a council.
He added that the seventeen clans of kona have up to fifty traditional titles all indigenous. He said the main Jukun block proceeded west-wards to establish the Kwararafa Empire at Bepi by 1200AD and the migrations to the second home of kuro and the third settlement at Nakanzang occurred some six southward from the bank of the Benue to the present settlement of Kona and related villages. He added that the Jukun Kona under the Kuru (Chief of Kona) have various unique forms of cultural activities one of which is the SHI SANU, meaning the (festival of the moon). He further added that the Jukun Kona fasted during the moon (SHI SANU) just as Muslims do during Ramadan and Christians during the rent periods.
He said during the Ramadan period, Muslims are prohibited from activities such as eating and relationship with the opposite sex while the lent period emphasis self denied and observation of norms and also the Jukun Kona aspect lays emphasis on specific restrictions such as Kawu one of the prominent Chiefs priests is secluded within his house hold and does not relate with his family throughout the month, while other title holders do not eat the newly harvested crops till the day the celebration take place.
According to him, the entire title holders become serve as there will be no drumming, dancing and merry making and the entire family stay indoors to sort out the harvest adding that it is time for folklore and storytelling and story-telling to Children and no family squabbles and are allowed. He explain the twelve months in a year and activities which consist of the first month (DAU) the month for weddings ceremonies, Social activities and Children born in the month are called Adau and Yadau for boys and girls. The second month (Ghau) is the period for the celebration of corn harvet and fishing trips and Children born in this month are Noghau and Yaghau for boys and girls respectively. The third month (Kya) is marked by the ceremony of Shi Kwa Pe (the harvest of new calabashes) to introduce the now calabashes and certain crops for blessings and consumption. For the blessing and consumption. The fifth month (Shiri) mark the commencement of the rains and children born in this month are called Awoshiri and Yashire for boys and girls. The sixth month (Amari) brings heavy rainfall and the crops amongs others and maize are planted and the boys born in this month are called Nomari while girls are named Yamari. The Seventh month is (Aku) during this month weddings are done. The month is for Aku or Buniku worship as the case may be and the festival is the traditional pilgrimage to Jukun ancestral home of Kuro South of the present day Lau, Undertaken after every seven years. The boys born in this month are called Noku while the girls Yaku. The Eight month (Ntai) is the peak of the rains and the Children born in this month are called Numtai for boys while Yamtai for girls. The ninth month (Tani Ashi) is for the harvest of maize and Okra thus the festival of Kankani and Assanu are alternated. Children born in this month are called Notani for boys while Yatani. The tenth month (Tani Awhoi) marks the notification of fasting by notable priest such as Kawu, Sinsi and Wuru known as Vovil. The eleventh month (Kentan) is for fasting proper, while the twelfth month (VNI) marks the end of fasting, end of the year and celebrating abundant good harvest.
Earlier, Chairman Organizing committee, Alhaji Habu Sani Kona welcomed people to the celebration just as he urged them to enjoy the rich Jukun Kona culture.
He pointed out that illiteracy and the attendant school drop-outs are the major challenge facing the community thereby necessitating the launching of over fifty million naira to aid School drop outs and those wishing to enrol in primary and Secondary Schools, but lack the resources.
In his remarks, the Chief of Kona, His Royal Highness Njemang Vengkani, urged all kona people to bring their attention back home for the development of the area.
Also commenting, son of the soil Alhaji Shuibu Attaka thanked God for making to see the festival the fifty fourth time in his life.