THE month of December is a unique period in Rivers State and often very colourful because of the activities lined up by the state government to make it memorable and fun packed.
The colourful aspect of last month opened with the annual Port Harcourt International Trade Fair. Unlike trade fairs in many other cities in the country where traders and buyers pack up for the day about 7pm, the Port Harcourt International Trade Fair was a different ball game. The place bubbled with activities every day till about 1pm.
The organisers ensured that every evening they had a DJ that supplied jams at one end of the Trade Fair from 7pm. Seats were arranged with those selling drinks, grilled meat, barbecue fish and all kinds of Africa cuisine on ground to add spice to the fun.
Budding artists in the state had the opportunity to come on stage to showcase their talents and dancing competitions were also held for many. Stand up comedians were not left out. They cracked jokes that kept people rolling on their seats.
Trade stands were opened all through for those catching fun that may want to also shop for items at night.
Things were relatively on the high side at the trade Fair this year. Some participants blamed it on high cost for space, plastic chairs and tables. According to them they were charged eight thousand naira per square meter of space. They said the organisers contracted the provision of chairs and tables out so it was not possible for some to bring theirs
The traders said they had to up the prices for their items to make profit. Mr Philip Felix who came to shop at the fair said the organisers should devise a means to control prices at in the future.
He said some of the things he tried getting at the Fair were far cheaper at the Mile One market in Port Harcourt; a situation he said defeated the spirit behind the Trade Fair.
The Trade Fair was still on when the popular Rivers state CARNIRIV kicked off. Publicity was relatively poor this year and this affected attendance at some of the programes which held at the Liberation stadium. It was nevertheless fun as those who made extra effort to familiarise themselves with the programme enjoyed themselves.
Governor Chibuike Amaechi and members of his cabinet joined in the CARNIRIV procession. Some residents who turned up at the Liberation stadium to watch the cultural dance, one of the events lined up for the festival, said some of the local government areas did not come up with something different in the cultural display.
Mr Friday Nwafor, a lecturer in the Theatre Arts Department, University of Port Harcourt, said some of the local governments had made it a tradition to always come up with the same dance troupe every year, an action he said did not reflect the rich culture of the people.
According to him, one of the essences of the CARNIRIV was to showcase the rich cultural heritage of the state and its people. But when local governments continue to come up with one angle of their rich culture every year, then they miss the point.
The CARNIRIV opened the gate for street carnivals in all parts of Port Harcourt. Residents of adjourning streets in the capital city organised night parties in the spirit of the season. They decorated the roads with fancy lights and colours.
The street parties reassured all in the state capital that Governor Amaechi was right when he assured of the safety of lives and properties in the state.
It would be recalled that at a time in the history of the state, before Amaechi came on board, nobody could dare come out from 7pm for fear of being attacked. Criminals masquerading as militants held the state under siege.
They shot at will and determined when people could be on the street. But when Amaechi assumed office as governor, he came down very hard on the boys, dislodging their hold on the state capital and beyond. Today, the state is safe and residents now sleep with their two eyes closed.