…Curses kidnappers, killer herdsmen, bandits
By Marie-Therese Nanlong,
It was a beautiful sight on October 1 when the Pan-speaking natives in Plateau State trooped in their numbers to celebrate the ‘Kaa Pang Mat Long’ (the festival of Mountain of the King’s wife). The colourful event took place at Jepjan (Namu) community of Qua’an Pan Local Government of the State.
Natives who came from within and outside the State to celebrate the ancient festival believe it is an opportunity to evoke blessings, protection and bountiful harvest from the gods at the Pang Mat Long (Mountain of the King’s Wife) as the year sets to end.
Before the procession to the mountain (Pang Mat Long) began, the Chief Priest, Nda Dakwat Dapia descending from Kofyar hill, performed the rituals with words of caution to person(s) harbouring evil thoughts against the people or the land not to climb the mountain. It is believed that such a fellow would come down facing severe consequences.
The chief priest said: “My father brought this stone here and he made it to always visit him at the mountain. That is why we shall continue to come to this mountain and greet him. I only uphold that which my father has left and directed me to do and we as Pan people continue to follow this path because it is the right path; if we don’t follow the right path we will fall.”
The chief priest pronounced calamity upon kidnappers, herdsmen causing destruction in their communities, banditry and any other evil plans against the land and his people wherever they are.
Jepjan Community Leader, Miskagam Jacob Dakyap, explained that the festival is the continuation of the heritage of their ancestors who were “the eldest twins of Daffiar of Kofyar land.”
He said the festival comes with blessings of “bumper harvests, healing of sick people and cleansing the land of every evil,” and called on his people to continue to live in peace for the progress of the land.
The festival was long abandoned with the coming of Western religion and natives say such has affected the community negatively and its revival over the years has not really corrected the ills going on in the land. It was equally used to appease the gods for peaceful coexistence amongst people living in Jepjan land.
Meanwhile, senator representing Plateau South, Professor Nora Dadu’ut, who is from the local government area, used the event to appeal for increased investment in girl-child education to bridge the gender gap and reduce inequality.
She said: “Every effort to reduce inequality must be rooted in the education of the girl-child as education remains the most potent approach to empowering women to take a bold step that will challenge the status quo and make a mark in the society.”
She urged women to be actively involved in politics because women have what it takes to provide dividends of democracy to the people.”
Presenting prizes to some winners of a beauty pageant she sponsored at the event, the senator represented by her liaison officer, Salihu Bwall stressed, “I call on women and girls to continue to seek for education to become responsible in society.”
Some of the beneficiaries of the beauty pageant included Duan Jepjan (Queen of Jepjan), Lilian Doekwaan, Mary Fidelis and Mercy Dalong, while prizes like generators, gas cooker and standing fans were presented to the winners.