By Jimitota Onoyume
PORT HARCOURT— Unlike in the recent past, when the sounds of guns from militants rented the air during celebration periods in Port Harcourt, this year’s Christmas was celebrated in the state in style, as major streets in Port Harcourt, the capital city had street parties they nick named Carnival.
From Diobu, to Elelenwo down to the Town end of the state capital, the city was agog with the parties. Youths decked in colourful jeans and tops were all over, shaking to raps. It was also a time for budding musicians to showcase their talents. At one of the carnivals in Diobu, Mr Opaka, who said he should simply be identified as such, said the carnivals were a way of letting the world know that peace had fully returned to the state.
“You can see that there are no policemen or soldiers around as we are holding our party,” he said.
This is to tell you that peace has fully returned to the state”, he said.
The carnivals held at different days in the state. And each street strived to outshine the other in organisation and packaging. It was truly fun, Felix who attended three of the carnivals told the Vanguard.
The season of carnivals and street parties started with the mother of all, Carniriv, a state government programme on December 13 to 18. The carniriv drew participants from various tribes and walks of life in the state. By 12 noon on Friday December, 17 various ethnic groups in the state had mobilised in their very colourful attire and costumes to Rumuola where the carnival train took off by 1pm to Town end of the state.
The following day, being Saturday, governor Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi again led the carnival train through some major roads in the state capital.
At the carnival village, Liberation Stadium, popular Nigerian artistes and comedians like Julius Agu, Dorcan Mighty, Sammy Okpozo etc were on hand to thrill the audience at separate days. The whole event was another way to reinvent the old Garden city where peace, beauty, elegance were the shining elements of the environment.
It was the same story in the various villages that were hitherto avoided by natives for fear of their lives. Before now, militants and hoodlums held sway in several of these villages. And the fear of them was the beginning of wisdom so most people from these areas either remained in Port Harcourt during festive seasons or they travel out of the state for fun. But this time they all went home to be part of the fun in their villages during the season of carnivals. Buguma, Bonny, Abonema etc were among villages that organised carnivals for their youths.