There were a spectacular displays at the just concluded Abuja National Carnival. CHIKA OKEKE writes that the guests were unarguably entertained with different cultural troupe within and outside the country.
The four day Abuja National Carnival was the 8th edition since its commencement in 2005. Specially tagged, 'Carnival of Peace and Unity', it was targeted at promoting peace and unity among Nigerians.
The carnival commenced with street carnival from Area 1 to Eagle Square accompanied by performances from primary and secondary schools. The Durbar amazed the audience with its colourful display of traditional attires. The horses were also beautifully decorated with the unique festival costumes.
Away from the durbar, the children fiesta, food fair/ bush bar and cultural night were among the spectacular displays that embellished the fiesta. There were also masquerade displays from different states such as Eyo from Lagos, Ajikwu from Anambra, and Agaba from Imo among others.
For the boat regatta at the Jabi Lake, the boat men were adorned with splendid costumes which was followed by command performance, contemporary music fiesta, street carnival, and finally the closing ceremony at Eagle square. It was also the first time that the police, Army, Civil defence and other military and paramilitary officers displayed their skills alongside other contingents from the states.
Tourism Potentials Embedded In Culture- First Lady
The Wife of the president, Dame Patience Jonathan while declaring the event open noted that the tourism potentials of Nigeria was greatly embedded in various culture saying that she was excited with the tourists that visited the country for the carnival.
She said, "The tourism potential of Nigeria is embedded in our multiple and beautiful culture. I am very glad that these multiple cultures are used to express Nigerian unity and peace. You can see that many countries gathered here to celebrate culture.
"I am happy that we appreciate the cultures of one another from our various ethnic groups. Many countries in Africa, Ambassadors, as well as tourists from many countries, are here to admire Nigerian rich culture", she said
Referring to the private sector, she added, "I call on the private sector to recognize the carnival because I will give my full support and work with the Carnival organizers to make sure that it continues to be a huge a success."
Culture Can Boost Our Economy- Tourism Minister
On his part, the Minister for Culture, Tourism and National Orientation, Chief Edem Duke was optimistic that culture would boost the economy since it has continued to gain prominence in Africa
"Nigeria has really expressed to the whole world through Abuja National Carnival that culture can take pre-eminence in Africa and in boosting the economy of any nation.
"We have shown that we are proud of our culture. The cultures we have expressed cannot be found in any other place in Africa, other than in Nigeria, so that is why the theme of the Carnival was carefully chosen".
Participants Excited With Carnival
Mohammed Jibril from Niger state who participated in the boat regatta described the event as unique saying that it was embellished with colourful display of culture and tradition.
According to him, "the carnival is unique likewise the theme that was carefully chosen to reflect peace and unity in Nigeria but I am still hopeful that next year's event would be more colourful.
Another participant from Enugu state, Thelma Ude thanked the organizers for giving them the opportunity to showcase their talents and traditions and prayed for peace to reign in Nigeria.
The Awards So Far
The Artistic Director of Abuja Carnival, Prof Bakare Ojo Rasaki who announced the results declared Rivers State as the overall best participants followed by Bayelsa and Akwa Ibom states who clinched the second and third position respectively while Oyo, Kogi and Benue states raced for the fourth positions. For the Best Masquerade Costume, Rivers came first, followed by Akwa Ibom, Anambra as well as Oyo who emerged second, third and fourth positions respectively.
In the Best Decorated Durbar category, Niger clinched the first position while Kano, Yobe and Ogun emerged second, third and fourth. Awards were also presented to contingents that participated in different events.
About Twenty two states of the federation including countries like China; Namibia; Trinidad and Tobago; Egypt, South Korea, Namibia and Cuba participated in this year's carnival.