The first phase of the 2015 Calabar Carnival has commenced with the unveiling of the theme, ‘‘Climate Change’’ held at the banquet hall of Oriental Hotel.
The unveiling session which coincided with the opening day of the biggest travel exhibition in West-Africa- Akwaaba was conducted by Prof. Ben Ayade, the executive governor of Cross Rivers State.
The unveiling attracted key players in the tourism industry, state government functionaries, VIPs and Sen. Florence Ita-Giwa, Chairman Carnival Calabar Band Associations with other major stakeholders.
According to Governor Ayade, there are plan to making this year’s event the best ever experienced since its twelve years of existence in the state. He however assured that the unveiling would usher in investment opportunities into the state and the country’s tourism sector.
The event according to him is part of the vision to internationalize the carnival as a global brand in furtherance of the visions of the founding governor, Sen. Donald Duke.
He also revealed that the carnival bands from 14 countries will be performing this year. He promised to introduce into the carnival programmes innovative programme including Bikers Parade, Old Automobile Model showcase, Disco Fiesta and Fela Anikulapo Day. He further noted that the children carnival has also been repackaged into a family funfair where all participants would freely join in the activities.
Identifying the beauty significant of the carnival , Governor Ayade however honoured, all the Beauty Queens present at the event by enlisting them into his new band which he named ‘‘the Governor’s Band’’. According to him, the new band despite the states of origin the Queens, represents beauty, elegance, style and class of the average Cross River youth.
He disclosed that with the plan of the state to set up ‘‘the biggest garment factory’ in the country by December 15 during the event, all the costumes that would be used during the event would be produced locally. Sen. Ita-Giwa who is also the leader of the Seagull Band, disclosed that she had initially expressed doubt on the capacity of the governor to continue the successes the festival had achieved since inception. She noted that so far the governor has demonstrated more than enough capacity to deepen the content of the festival to a veritable height.
According to her the past governors of the state have contributed significantly to the content of the festival with impressive results. ‘‘We had nursed doubt as to the capacity of the successive administrations to sustain the contributions and efforts of their predecessors as a result of their various programmes which may sometimes contradicts programme of previous administration.’’
Within the past few months, we have seen gesture of the new governor to deepen the programme of the carnival. As the digital governor, he has demonstrated enough will to continue and develop the visions of the founding governors and efforts of his predecessor’’ Sen. Ita-Giwa disclosed.
She further said, ‘‘When the initiator Former Governor, Donald Duke, left office, we thought his departure would be the end of carnival. Fortunately Sen. Liyel Imoke, took over and expanded 2015 Calabar Carnival: Emphasis Shifts To Climate Change the content of the festival into a global offering. Despite the challenges that Cross River, when most of the oil blocs in the state were ceded to other neighbouring states, Sen. Imoke, still managed to keep the carnival intact. To his credit, the event is in the social map of the world.’
“The Carnival is not just about street dance alone, it requires intellect and doggedness of the carnival bands, so much is invested into it annually because it is capital intensive. The five bands always work hard to interpret the different themes given to them in order to emerge as the best. Calabar is like a rainbow city that people can move around fearlessly. It is only in Calabar you will see people dancing with pride, we are serious and committed to everything we set out to do”.
The event featured exciting performances by the Frontline girls of Carnival Calabar, Kenya Cultural group and Rwanda dancers. Song writers, Waje and Nyanya kicked off the street party with their award winning songs. Other celebrities that witnessed the event included Olu Maintain, Pato Ranking, Mr Ibu and host of other industry acts.
– Ebere Chibuzor