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Borno all set for first World Kanem Borno Cultural Summit

14 February 2024
Reading time: 5 minutes

Kanuri people from around the globe are expected to attend the auspicious summit being held for the first time in Maiduguri in Borno State

Kanuri people from around the globe are expected to attend the first World Kanem Cultural Summit which is being held in Borno State’s capital, Maiduguri, from this Friday to Sunday, February 16 to 18.

Organisers – the Borno Emirate Concerned Citizens Forum and the Kufu Tilo, a network of Kanuri associations across the world, as well as high-profile stakeholders – said it was fitting that the first summit was being held in the state.

Borno, as the epicentre of the Jamā’at Ahl as-Sunnah lid-Da’way Wa’l-Jihād (JAS), better known as Boko Haram, insurgency and the home of victims of attacks by the violent breakaway group, the Islamic State West Africa Province, has been in conflict for the past 15 years.

Thousands of innocent citizens have been killed, three million people displaced and houses and property worth millions burnt and destroyed.

Now that relative peace has returned to the state, the organisers said it was the right time to hold the first summit of its kind.

It is expected to bring together the sons and daughters of the Kanuri people – an African ethnic group living largely in the land of the former Kanem and Bornu Empires in the Niger Republic, Nigeria and Cameroon – to promote peace, make economic and trade links, share their cultural heritage and foster greater cooperation.

Representatives from Kanuri communities throughout the world are expected to attend.
Shettima Jafar Imam, a former director of the Borno State chapter of the National Orientation Agency, told RNI that preparations were almost complete for the summit.

The event will be hosted by His Eminence the Shehu of Borno, Dr Abubakar Umar Garbai Al-Amin El-Kanemi.

“We set up an organising committee whose responsibility it is to provide the desired food and accommodation for the prominent guests from different parts of the world, including representatives and leaders of Kanuri communities in Saudi Arabia, the Niger Republic, Chad, the Benin Republic, Cameroon, Gabon, The Gambia, Sudan, the Central African Republic, Libya, Eritrea and the United States of America.

“Traditional rulers of Kanuri communities from Yobe, Kano, Gombe, Bauchi, Adamawa, Jigawa, Katsina, Kaduna, Lagos and Oyo states in Nigeria will also be in attendance.
“There will be strict security measures in place to ensure the safety of the guests. All security agencies, including the Nigerian Army, the state police command and the Nigerian Security and Civil Defence Corps, will be on hand to safeguard the guests at the three-day summit.

“We have already spoken to the relevant authorities who will ensure guests from Niger will be able to attend the summit and enjoy a safe passage to and from Nigeria. Special arrangements had to be made because sanctions imposed on Niger by the Economic Community of West African States resulted in the closure of land borders and air space.

“Most of the invited guests from across the world will start arriving on Thursday, February 15. The summit will begin on Friday with a special prayer session at the Maiduguri Central Mosque. The international conference will begin in earnest on Saturday when Kanuri people from around the world will deliver presentations. A colorful traditional durbar [reception] will be held on Sunday in honor of the invited guests. On Monday guests will depart.”

Imam said the summit formed part of Borno State’s post-insurgency recovery plan. It was expected the event would continue to be held every two years.

“The first summit is in Borno State but subsequent summits are expected to be held in other parts of Nigeria, as well as in the Niger Republic, Chad, Cameroon or the Benin Republic; wherever there are Kanuri people.

He said it was hoped the summit would foster peace and unity among Kanuri communities across the world. Participants would help to promote a sustainable cultural heritage and socioeconomic activities.

Mabudu Suleiman Husaini, a traditional ruler of the Kanuri community in the Benin Republic told RNI that he and the delegates from that country were excited about the summit and were looking forward to it.

“It will be the right occasion to promote the Kanuri language as well as the cultural heritage of the our people globally.”

Abakar Mohammed Musa, a member of the Kanuri association known as Andema in Chad, said that delegates had already received their invitations from the Shehu.

“We are grateful to the Shehu for recognising and inviting us to this wonderful summit. We are very excited to see our Kanuri brothers and sisters from across the world and to discuss strategic ways to promote our cultural heritage, norms and traditional values in modern-day society. We hope to strengthen cooperation in socioeconomic activities, such as trading and small and large businesses.

“I hope the summit will be a solid foundation for connecting and uniting Kanuri people from across the world. I pray that it will be successful and that it will be held without hindrance. By the grace of God.”

A report published by the Kanempress Digital Hub said the summit would be more than simply an event; it would be a testament to the vibrancy, resilience and shared heritage of the Kanem people across the globe.

A multifaceted programme was planned, including enlightening sessions, panel discussions, cultural exhibitions and invaluable networking opportunities.

The key objectives were:
• To preserve traditions by delving into the depths of Kanem’s rich historical legacy and fostering a deeper understanding and appreciation of Kanuri culture;
• To overcome adversities by addressing challenges arising from human-made and natural disasters and to initiate conversations that would lead to strategic solutions and community resilience; and
• To forge a path for a prosperous future by focusing on language preservation, socio-cultural growth and development.
Traditional rulers, community leaders, scholars, professionals and individuals passionate about the Kanem heritage are expected to contribute to shaping the narrative and future of the Kanuri people.


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