Impressive Calabar Carnival!

Posted: January 4, 2012 in art/entertainment, arts/culture

Last Tuesday, December 27 formed what could aptly be described as the highpoint of the 32-day long Calabar Christmas festival also known as the Calabar Festival as the much-anticipated Calabar carnival poured into the streets of the cleanest city in the country, Calabar.

Patterned more after the Rio Carnival of Brazil than of the London’s NottingHill Carnival, the Calabar Carnival is undoubtedly a carnival every Nigerian should be proud of when the world’s carnivals line out to be counted. Going by accounts of foreign tourists and media at the event, the Calabar Carnival has indeed given Nigeria some level of respectability in carnival presentations in the world.

The colours, the enthusiasm, the liveliness, the spirit of participation, the competition, and the ambience of the city sets the Calabar carnival apart from the three other cultural carnivals the country presently presents in its calendar of carnival seasons; which include the Abuja National Carnival and the Lagos carnival, both of which had held in November.

The Calabar carnival made up for a not too impressive year 2011 for the country’s carnival presentations which were seemingly dogged by political, administrative and logistic hiccups, much to the disappointment of the tourism industry which had looked to benefit from the fallouts accruing from such events to boost earnings.

Thus, the Calabar carnival’s five bands similar to the samba schools of the Brazilian Rio Carnival astounded spectators with breathtaking costumes which were surprisingly home-made, remarkable initiatives, awesome creativity and imaginations in their presentations and translations of the theme of the carnival which was ‘Endless possibilities.’

Featuring the Bayside Band, Passion Four Band, Masta Blasta Band, Freedom Band and the Seagull Band, the Calabar carnival only has a few more presentation to rival the Rio Carnival.

Indeed, if any state can lay claim to tourism as serious business, Cross River State would step forward and take a bow for providing an event which provided that veritable platform for the enrichment of the average man in the streets of Calabar, which succinctly put, is what tourism is all about.

Beyond the song and dance, there was the serious business of accommodating, entertaining, transporting the tourist who is paying hard cash to come to a state which ordinarily would have found it a difficult to pull the sort of crowd that had thronged the city within those 32 days, especially on the grand carnival day itself.

As the near 4, 000 hotel room state reached full capacity, Calabar was indeed a beehive of activities and was alive all through that Tuesday watching the procession of revellers transform the quiet city into human fireworks of dance, beats and colours.

The Cultural Parade segment of the Calabar Festival was an array of culture, costumes, styles, dances, instruments and colour differently displayed but depicting the heritage of the people.

The four kilometre parade from the Millennium Park, through Mary Slessor Avenue, Marian, IBB into the U. J. Esuene Stadium was not only a “Made in Nigeria” affair as Mizorblew Cultural troupe from Volta region in Ghana was there in their national colour of red, yellow and green to present a war dance which their ancestors used in welcoming their war lords after conquest in battle.

This goes a long way to explain the scope which the festival is growing to attract troupes from beyond the shores of the country as previously participants were Nigeria.

Trappers Theatre Troupe from Gboko, Benue State, presented their traditional Swange dance, meant to instil peace and unity among the people, wearing their traditional zebra colour of black and white.

From Imo State came Alija Dance Group as Anambra State presented the popular acrobatic dance group known as Atilogu, which has attained international recognition while Kogi State Art Council Performing Troupe came with Sahada capped with Ogba known as a social dance presented at all functions.

Kwara State Arts and Cultural came with Ejiobe from the Yoruba speaking area of the State which is performed by twins and Kano State came with a mini Durbar and Alligator dance.  Imo, Abia, Nasarawa and Enugu were also there with their troupes.

From the state, the various local councils’ chairmen led their troupes. Biase Local Government presented Egup, Aneba, Onene, Obim, Igbam, Akpet Abiakpet, Ebianu society, Agum, Amonu, Calabar Municipal Council, presented Nkanda – a special Ekpe dance performed during festivals.

Boki Local Government presented three dances, Calabar South had Isim and Nyok, Yala came with the popular Queen dance of Barche Kingdom and Ekpatuma dance, Akamkpa showed its Monikim, Nsibidi Ekpe society, Laban war dance and Akpabuyo a maiden dance of Itembe.

Bakassi came with Afia Awan, Abi – efu dance, Ebina society dance, war dance, Odukpani – Ekombi dance, Yakurr – Nnei bong, Ekeledi and Igban dance as Etung Solidarity Front, which appeared in PDP branded tee-shirt, in support of Governor Liyel Imoke for April 2012 gubernatorial election, presented Monikim and a brass band.

Ikom, Bekwarra, Ogoja, Obanliku, Obudu also presented cultural troupes for the parade.

The Passion Four Band won the best overall carnival band for the year 2011.

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