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From the carnival stand…

BY MCPHILIPS NWACHUKWU

PENULTIMATE Saturday, the nation’s capital city of Abuja was agog with  activities as residents of the city witnessed another round of the five year old Abuja Carnival. That day the carnival routes which started from Moshood Abiola way in Garki area through Eagle Square.

Abuja was a beauty to behold as carnival floats from  different states of the Federation and some countries matched through the city in their carnival  attires adding beauty to the already beautified city of Abuja. As the float moved through the city, activities were literally put to a stop, as motorists, traders, students and children as well as people from various walks of life trooped to the streets to catch a glimpse of the long procession of the floats.

The street show of this year’s edition of Abuja Carnival tagged People’s Carnival featured contingents from 33 states of the federation and three foreign countries namely South Africa, Egypt and Ghana. As gathered, Ogun, Abia, and Akwa Ibom States could not participate this year because they could not get funds from their state governments.

The Street Show, described as the best in the history of the carnival since inception five years ago by many observers and participants in Abuja, had about 40 trucks full of well costumed artistes who displayed the cultural endowments of their states in very arresting and creative manner.

Majority of these artistes were seen dancing and singing in their various dialects to thrill the audience. Actors Guild of Nigeria, Nigeria Security and Civil Defense as well as MTN joined in the well arranged street party. Remarkably, the fifth edition of Abuja Carnival, despite lean funding from government, represents a complete departure from the previously one venue kind of festival the people of Nigeria have witnessed as carnival. On assumption of office in August as the creative director of this year’s Abuja Carnival, Professor Ojo Bakare had promised to deliver a difference by returning the carnival to the people.

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 ramattazza 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.

To realize this  visionary thinking, Bakare had, before the carnival mapped out carnival routes through which the train would pass as they display their goodies. Starting from Garki Village the carnival party, he said would match through Area one to Festival Road through NNPC Road and finally to Eagle Square.

The 40 kilometre carnival walk, according to Bakare,  was to make both the participants and Abuja residents have a feel of the colour and glamour of the event. And that was precisely how it happened.

In readiness for this great party, the innovative management of the fifth Abuja Carnival under the leadership of Professor Bakare succeeded in transforming the carnival routes covering the whole of Area one, Festival road, NNPC road right down to Eagle Square by installing 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 had lights adorning and beautifying them even before the main event.

The lights apart from adding colour and glamour to the big event, clearly sent strong signals to many discerning observers that something great was really happening in the city. At the colourful closure of the four day 2009 Abuja Carnival, the vice president, Dr. Jonathan Goodluck  prescribed the development of the culture sector as the basis  for speedy socio-economic and political growth of the country.

Politicalgrowth

He said the present administration of President Yar’adua led government believes strongly in the development of culture as an active catalyst capable of enthroning better understanding, sincere cooperation, lasting unity, peace and tranquility in the nation.

According to him:“For it is through cultural traits such as language, religion, behaviour pattern that individuals learn to identify themselves as members of specific communities as opposed to non members of communities.”

At a different fora during the carnival, President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua described the yearly event as a cultural product that is capable of attracting tourists and foreign exchange to the country. He noted that the carnival can help in the development of the nation’s economy aside laundering the image of the country globally.

Speaking through Senator Bello Gada, minister of culture, tourism and national orientation, Yar’Adua hinted that if properly promoted and well organised, the yearly carnival can play a key role in the eradication of poverty and creation of employment which incidentally are part of the seven point agenda of the federal government.


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