By BABATUNDE JIMOH
SINCE the advent of this democratic dispensation, Cross River State has become synonymous with tourism. The state has become the place to be for tourists within and outside the country every December for its annual Calabar festival.
The highpoint of the Calabar festival is the Carnival Calabar, a unique display of African heritage showcased through music, dance, drama and visual creativity which is reflected in the design of floats, costumes and make-up. 2011 Carnival Calabar that took place December 26 and 27 brought together over 50,000 costumed revelers and 2 million spectators into the city of Calabar.
The children carnival on Boxing day was like a prelude to what was in stock for tourists the following day which was the adults’ carnival. The Millennium park, which the locals call 11-11, came alive on Tuesday morning as revellers started trooping in there with their costumes as well as vendors awaiting the big show to begin.
The show truly began with the arrival of Governor Liyel Imoke, his wife; the Governor of Central Bank, Sanusi Lamido Sanusi; the immediate past Governor of the state, Donald Duke and his wife; the Minister of Tourism, Edem Duke and other dignitaries.
“Let the biggest show in Africa begin” were the words of Governor Imoke as he cut the tape to declare the biggest street party in Africa open. With the carnival flagged off by the governor, the five competing bands and 10 non-competing bands swung into action creating riot of colours and sparkle, along a 12km route accomplished by live music, DJs, well-decorated floats and steel bands.
The competing bands, Masta Blasta, Seagull, Freedom, Bayside and Passion 4 , each tried to interpret the theme of the Carnival, “Endless Possibilities”, through their costumes. As the bands made their ways through the route leading to the stadium which was the final adjudication point, the various bands through well choreographed dance, juxtaposed designs, and costumes tried to out do one another.
At the end of the day, the Passion 4, which in the last three editions had come top, came out first again with its presentation titled, ‘Harmony between Man and Nature…A Pathway to Eldorado’ that won it the N10m cash prize.
Passion 4 in its interpretation of the theme of the carnival explained that man was created a social being, since properly organized societies evolved, history is littered with men and women who attempted to improve the society maximally.
They said the ability to meet all needs and wants without any limitations represents the Eldorado. The band’s position on the central theme was that in the nearest future when most of the nature friendly initiatives of the state come to fruition, when the environment comes up as top priority and when they don’t only manufacture but acquire more knowledge, then they would have truly achieve their Eldorado.