April 9, 2010

Lagos carnival of colour, glitz and splendor

Lagos Carnival damsel

Olasunkanmi Akoni

The rich and brilliant display of culture bore close resemblance to the world famous Brazilian street carnival that is usually marked by breath-taking music, dance and colourful costumes. Indeed the event, the Third Black Heritage Festival, put together by the Lagos State government and its private sector partners was a week-long celebration and dramatization of the rich and limitless resourcefulness of the Black race.

While the event lasted, Lagosians were treated to an eye-catching spectacle by the  participants who paraded the major streets in different parts of Lagos dressed in colourful attires and showing off their rich cultural heritage. The carnival train passed through streets such as Awolowo Road, Keffi Street, Ahmadu Bello Way to Bar Beach and ended at the Tafawa Balewa Square.

The costumes of the participants were a sight to behold. The attires were made in forms of insect wings such as butterflies and weevils, as well as the petals of sun flowers with others having the shape of the moon and stars. Some participants also showcased their dexterity with tricycles built to look like fish and seahorse. Others expressed themselves by displaying the portraits of some famous Nigerians long dead.

Speaking  at the Lagoon Restaurant, Victoria Island venue of the colourful opening ceremony of the festival with the theme: “Memory and Performance in the Return to the Source”, Governor Babatunde Fashola expressed confidence that the envisaged performances would be a spectacle to behold, one that would certainly have no unparallel in the African continent.

Celebrating heroes

He said the ports and beaches of Badagry which served a few centuries ago as the point of no return for many African brothers and sisters have been re-christened the ports of triumphant return of the long gone relatives from the Caribbean and the Americas because of the Black Heritage Festival.

He said: “As befitting the city of aquatic splendour, there would be boat regatta on the Lagoon and waterways starting from this afternoon, and on land there will be exuberant dancing and colourful costumes and masquerades of the Lagos Carnival that promise to turn the streets of Lagos into one long gyrating movable feast on Monday”.

Continuing, the Governor said: “We have deliberately combined these events, the Heritage Festival, the Boat Regatta and the Lagos Carnival into a weeklong activity that signals the emergence of Lagos on the International tourist calendar in the season of Easter, which is a global holiday period.  Conversely, through the Carnival, in the pulsating and primordial poly-rhythm of the African drums, the call and response of drummer and dancer, we see the return to the source of the musical spirits and energy of African brothers and sisters from the Caribbean and the Americas. We welcome you all back home. With this, we appease the masks of reconnection, revaluation and re-vindication”.

He emphasised that many other events have held in the State such as the recent MNET Face of Africa that have reaffirmed the views that Lagos is Africa’s fashion capital, adding: “Lagos is one of the five biggest economies in sub-Saharan Africa, bigger than most African countries”.

Earlier in his welcome address at the opening ceremony, Commissioner for Tourism and Culture, Senator Tokunbo Afikuyomi described the week long ceremony as a festival of life and a celebration of the re-union of the Black people.

He said all the events at the ceremony will demonstrate the infinite capacity of the Black Race which would hopefully bring about a brighter rewarding future to everyone.

Also speaking at the commencement of the Water Regatta, the Chairman of the Planning Committee, Engineer Olusegun Jawando said the programme was meant to celebrate the acquatic splendour of Lagos.

Among the notable personalities who attended the event were Deputy Governor, Princess Sarah Adebisi Sosan, members of the State Executive Council, Nobel Laureate and Consultant on the Festival, Professor Wole Soyinka, Oba of Lagos, Oba Rilwan Akiolu I, Oba of Badagry, Whenu Aholu MenuToyi 1, some elected Local Government Chairmen, Chairman of the Action Congress in Lagos, Prince Henry Ajomale and many other dignitaries. The First Annual Water Regatta also drew participation from all parts of the State while a number of personalities from the private and public sector added colour to the event with their Jet Ski.

A capacity crowd of Lagos residents and dignitaries from the United States and other parts of the world on Easter Monday thronged the Tafawa Balewa Square to witness a beautiful display and scintillating performances by various brilliantly attired Fanty groups as the Lagos Carnival 2010 climaxed.