A Brief History of KSS
Literally, “Kyegh Sha Shwa” means “Chicken with Sesame”. It is however, a choice delicacy of the Tiv of Central Nigeria; a soup made of chicken and thick sesame (Benniseed) sauce. The Tiv people best savour this delicacy with pounded yam. It is indeed a very popular dish.
Leveraging on the popularity of this and the near-worship sentimental attachment that the Tiv have with this dish, the Very Rev. Fr. Solomon Mfa Ukeyima conceived of it as a fine rallying point where Tiv sons and daughters would come together, reason together to grow together – a kind of reawakening of the great communal spirit that drives them, as beautifully couched in one of their proverbs, “ka ityem imôngo Mbagbera ve fe iywa ye”.
Fr. Solomon Ukeyima, a humanitarian Priest of the Roman Catholic Church, who has felt with excruciating concern, the unfortunate circumstances in Tar Tiv, where disunity, hate and disaffection has been alarmingly on the rise in dangerously malignant proportions, decided to experiment the idea with his parishioners at the St. Francis Catholic Mission, Daudu, Guma Local Government Area, in November, 2015.
Seeing the significant success and general acceptability of the experiment in his church, and the instantaneously magical effect it had on forging a strong bond on the people as they reconnected in relish, both physically and spiritually, as those who were hitherto not in talking terms immediately renewed warm relations, cum the genuine general communal excitement the experiment invoked in the people, Fr. Ukeyima decided to expand the scope of the feast so as to offer the Tiv nation an opportunity to also buy into this new lease and rejuvenate the communal essences that give them vintage edge for holistic growth and prosperity in the very challenging new world order. He then invited committed and vibrant young Tiv minds to plan a bigger event; this pioneer planning committee was chaired by Shadrach Teryila Ukuma, a Lecturer with the Benue State University in the Theatre Arts Department. Thus, on the 27th of December, 2015, a mammoth crowd converged on the precincts of Daudu, in various elegant apparels of Tiv fabric, to mark this milestone in cultural celebration with pomp and pageantry. This marked the birth of a cultural fiesta that would become endeared to the entire Tiv race, including friends and well wishers of the Tiv people.
At the maiden edition of “Kyegh Sha Shwa”, it became astonishingly evident that the people indeed yearned for avenues of cultural celebrations, a place and time to ventilate the pressures and frustrations that conspire to disunite them. It was apparently clear, and indeed expressed, that the people missed such events that bind them and foster social cohesion, since desperate politicking and crass capitalist individualism has assumed a damaging centrality, seizing them in a stranglehold of acrimonious bickering and poisonous disaffection for one another. This need, plus the attendant challenges that threaten the collective survival of the Tiv nation in a pluralistic polity such as Nigeria, became even more apparent after the event. The call for a more expansive subsequent edition began early as elder statesmen and those who missed the maiden edition and could not wait for another opportunity, charged the Convener not to allow the initiative die. This naturally blended into the intention of the organizers who were equally poised to cash in on the success recorded to institutionalize and popularize the event, making it an annual festival attracting wider participation.
The maiden edition featured amongst other cultural servings, a rich address from the Guest Speaker, Wantaregh Paul Iorpuu Unongo, arguably the cultural leader of the Tiv, whose soul searching message anchored on the communal philosophy of the Tiv man, which to him must be protected jealously if the Tiv man must emerge victorious in all spheres of living. The idea of strength in unity and collective advancement was acutely articulated by the speaker.
Featuring also at the maiden edition were the famed “Uka-Uka” in competition, Ihyambe, Burukutu drinking competition, communal eating, dressing competition, singing and dancing. All these were targeted at whetting the appetite for a cultural renaissance and an invocation of nostalgic pride in the cultural life of the Tiv people.
The cultural celebration also offered the right opportunity to showcase the skill, passion and commitment to purpose which is the trademark of hardworking Tiv youth. It is on this note that mention must be made of those who worked hard to put together the maiden edition. These were: Elijah Terdoo Ikpanor, Ati Kengkeng Kenneth, Ati Terkula, Shiminenge Damna, Simon Ayongul, Jude Akumbur, Dooter Igbudu, Samson Terzungwe Abeh, Iorliam Shija, Paul Bija, Ayoo Pius, Ukan Kurugh, Sabastian Uii, Solomon Tyohemba, Laz Apir, Sam Ijoho, Kachina Terver and others.
For the 2016 edition, the theme was ” Ayatutu za Hana?” This question x-rayed the Tiv man of yesterday, how he fared in all facets of life, and also attempted to answer why the Tiv man of today is where he is, and point the direction to a way out of the seeming present quagmire. In 2017, the theme was “Mlu u Tiv Jim Jim” which explored the life of the Tiv people and how they lived with others, summarizing the lifestyle and substance of the Tiv people and was captured by the guest speaker; Bishop William Avenya as “The Tivness of the Tiv”. The 2018 edition of the festival took place in Atson forest, a community on the outskirt of Makurdi, close to Daudu.
The theme was “Gba-Aondo u hemen ken Tiv”.
After the 2018 edition, KSS was registered with the Corporate Affairs Commission as Kyegh Sha Shwa Cultural Initiative. It is hoped that this will ensure sustainability and properly fit the festival into the corporate world. The 2019 edition which also makes it the 5th consecutive edition of the festival is scheduled to hold in Gboko at Tar-Ukpe Forest, Yandev, with “Mzough Ka Tahav” as the theme.
With the entrenchment of Kegh Sha Shwa Cultural Festival and its ideals, the Tiv nation would once again, physically and spiritually, respond in unison, to the traditional call to duty, essence and service to one another.
AYATUTU KA UNÔ! KA SE!! Long live the Tiv Nation