Molly Kilete, Abuja
Officers and soldiers of the Guards Brigade Nigeria Army, took time off to drop their weapons for some hours when they gathered to celebrate the 2019, West Africa Social Activity (WASA), in Abuja.
The event which took place at the Mambilla Barracks Parade Ground, over the weekend, had all the four battalions and Garrison making up the brigade as well as their families and friends in attendance.
Also in attendance were the Secretary to the Government of the Federation(SGF); Boss Mustapha, top government functionaries, members of the diplomatic corps, top army, Navy and Air Force officers as well as retired former commanders of the Guards Brigade and former General Officers Commanding(GOCs), traditional rulers among other top dignitaries.
WASA is an age-long military tradition where officers, soldiers and their families gather to socialize with their civilian friends at the end of every training year.
The age long tradition which started during the World War Two, also plays a vital role of reminding the older generation of the Barracks community of the good times in Nigerian villages and at the same time linking the younger ones born outside their traditional communities to their roots.
The ceremony featured cultural dances from different parts of the country, exhibition of various traditional foods, Tug of War amongst other competition saw 176, Guards Battalion winning the tug of war competition.
In his address at the occasion, the commander Guards Brigade, Brigadier-General Mohamned Usman, said the ceremony which was supposed to have held last year was not possible due to several operational engagements of the brigade.
He said unlike in the past when it was purely a traditional displays of culture, WASA in contemporary times has become an avenue for formations and units to showcase their achievements.
He said the brigade despite its heinous task has been able to achieve its training objectives for the 2019 Training year by improving on professionalism and sustaining regimentation amongst its officers and soldiers.
He commended zeal and determination of officers and soldiers of the brigade for their commitment to service and said the brigade has so far organized the Corporal below Competition, Drill Competition and Obstacle Competition, just to mention a few. Interestingly, annual Ascent of Aso Rock, among other exercises during the training year.
Giving a brief on the ceremony, Usman, said “WASA is an age-long military tradition aimed at creating a conducive atmosphere for relaxation for officers, soldiers and their families to socialize with their civilian friends at the end of a training year.
He said “In the past, delegates were usually sent to the military by the village heads to seek the release of soldiers for this yearly ritual. However, instead of releasing the soldiers yearly to perform the ritual at their country homes, the colonial military authorities then, incorporated this tradition to the armies and named it West African Social Activity popular known as WASA. “The tradition rituals included burning of sacrifices, dancing and exposure of masquerades among others. This age long tradition introduced by the colonial masters is still being held in most of British colonies in the West African Sub region including Nigeria. This legacy has helped to command the confidence of soldiers, foster spirit de-corps and share in the spirit of existing cultural diversity of personnel and their families.
“Since the end of colonialism in 1960, this tradition was sustained by the indigenous Nigerian Army, and has always been an annual recurring feature in the present Nigerian Army.
“Additionally, WASA plays a vital role of reminding the older generation of the Barracks community of the good times in Nigerian villages and at the same time, connecting the younger generation who were probably born outside their traditional communities to their roots.
“In contemporary times, the WASA has also become an avenue where the formation/units showcase its achievements. On this note, I wish to state with all sense of humility that we have been able to achieve the Brigades training objectives for the 2019 Training year which is to improve professionalism and sustain regimentation. This was made possible by the zeal and determination of officers and soldiers of Guards Brigade. To this end, we were able to organize Corporal below Competition, Drill Competition and Obstacle Competition just to mention a few. Interestingly, the Brigade was able to conduct its annual ritual of the Ascent of Aso Rock which was held on 28 December 2019.”