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Abuja adorns new look as carnival counts down

By MCPHILIPS NWACHUKWU

TRUE to his words, the streets of Abuja are now wearing carnival looks in readiness for the 2009 Abuja Carnival beginning from November 21 through 24. Earlier at his first media meeting with culture and tourism journalists in Lagos, the newly appointed creative director of this year’s Abuja Carnival, Professor Ojo Bakare had promised that his leadership of the carnival team would transform the hosting of the national festival to what he described as “a street party”, which according to him, carnival is all about.
He condemned the idea of the carnival being domiciled at a particular host venue like it has been the case in the last three editions arguing that,”carnival is a street party and goes with  glamour and ramattazz; and therefore must be done in such a way that it conforms with the kind of traditional street festivals that the people are known for.”

Images from the Abuja carnival
Images from the Abuja carnival

To realize this self assigned mission, Bakare has mapped out carnival routes through which the train would pass as they display their goodies. Starting from Garki Village the carnival float will match through Area One down to Festival Road through NNPC Road and finally come to Eagle Square. The 40-kilometre carnival walk, according to Bakare, “is to make both  participants and Abuja residents have a feel of the color and glamour of the event.”

In readiness for this great party, the innovative management of the fifth Abuja Carnival under the leadership of  Professor Bakare has transformed the carnival routes covering the whole of Area 1, Festival road, NNPC road right down to Eagle Square with carnival street lights and carnival banners.

Contrary to the past, where residents and visitors alike could not distinguish between carnival routes and free roads, this time around, all designated carnival routes have lights adorning  and beautifying them even before the main event. The lights apart from adding colour and glamour to the big event, clearly send strong signals to many discerning observers that something great is really going to take place in city in a short while.

As Sunday arts went round town last week with the creative director of the carnival, renowned stage designer and technical theatre expert, Biodun Abe and his crew were seen at work busy putting final touches to the lightening installations. Biodun explained that “whereas ordinary street lights are mainly for illumination, the special street lights for the carnival is meant to create visual impact; an aesthetic experience since carnival is about colours.”

He said: “the streets will be lit up with various kinds of light designs ranging from strings, ropes to icicle lights and carnival pictorials to create awareness and warm up the people of Abuja and indeed, Nigeria to let people see something totally new.”

Apart from the street lights innovation, the new management, contrary to the practice in the last editions has in the last one month, been playing radio jingles, which announce the carnival in both radio and television stations. Interestingly, these innovations are coming at a time, when the organizers complain about paucity of funding from government. If this much can be achieved with limited funding and in this shortness of time, one can only imagine, how far the team can go if properly funded and with enough time to prepare.

This is why it becomes important, that funding must be made readily available for people, who like the present director, with all that it takes to handle event management, to give the nation a world class carnival. Bakare is not a neophyte in events management. Apart from being a culture and theatre scholar, he has gathered rich knowledge in the fields of public performance, festivals and carnival management.

Bakare before his appointment, not only worked as assistant director, drama at the National Troupe of Nigeria, but has consistently worked as international consultant to both Jamaican, Australian and Gambian governments in the areas of carnival management and troupe training. It is just simple to conclude  from some of these innovations already on ground that there is no doubting the fact that Nigerians are going to have a real, real great party.


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