From Abdulrazaq Mungadi, Gombe
for the people of Kaltungo Chiefdom in Gombe State, their culture is their life. It is their pride. And it is for this reason they annually return to their root to celebrate their culture and heritage in style.
But that of this year, which many bookmakers had predicted was set to be unrivaled in history, was suddenly set aside by health authorities over fears of COVID-19. The festival, which traditionally flags off with a rally, Pan-Mana, on every December 24 and ends with a carnival on December 26, was rescheduled for January 28 to 30, 2021. And that consoled the people.
With the date in sight, the people carried on with their preparations with great expectations. But the hopes and expectations came crashing once again. This was after so much energy and resources had been put in place to celebrate the festival.
Hajiya Sa’adatu Sa’ad (Alkebban Kaltungo) is the chairperson of the organising committee. She told Daily Sun that the festival, which celebrates the history and tradition of Kaltungo and Shongom chiefdoms, could not hold due to the resurgence of COVID-19.
Speaking at a farewell dinner, organized for guests who had arrived in the town to grace the event, she stated that the festival was to hold on the rescheduled date as satisfactory preventive measures had all been put in place, but added that it was again called off on the grounds of the same challenge:
“We received a message from the task-force at the national level, that we should suspend every gathering that would involve over 50 people at a time. We had to obey and respect the directive because Mai Kaltungo is a peace-loving leader, who has been working to ensure safety and well-being of all, not just his people.”
The Mai Kaltungo, Sale Muhammed, was the state deputy chairman of the disbanded COVID-19 Task-Force. He called for additional sensitization of the people on the need to strictly adhere to COVID-19 protocols. He said efforts by government and the task force should be made to yield positive results:
“We have done so well in helping our people to protect themselves. For instance, we have tested over 25,000 people, and out of this number, the number of confirmed cases was about 1,450. That is less than what was expected in a state that has a confirmed community transmission.
“This shows that God has protected us and our people are listening to what we are telling them. The basic things to do to prevent the spread of this disease are very simple. First of all, the use of face mask and then hand washing. These are the two things that will protect us and also protect others.”