By Taiwo Oladokun
Last year, a synergy started well with the participation of Trinidad and Tobago in the 2011 edition of Abuja Carnival  with the presentation of  Steelband, a symbol of that country’s popular annual carnival to the Government of Nigeria.

What followed this symbolic act was a stronger cultural relationship culminating in an invitation to the Nigerian Government to participate in the 2012 edition of Trinidad and Tobago International Carnival in Port of Spain.

For the Minister of Tourism, Culture and National Orientation, Chief Edem Duke, the invitation  went beyond witnessing of the Carnival as the  Nigerian delegation to Trinidad and Tobago  used the opportunity to learn from some of the techniques and strategies that have made the Trinidad and Tobago Carnival a billion dollar reaping venture.

According to the Trinidadian Minister  for Multiculturalism and the Arts, Senator Embau Mokeni,  about $1 billion (0ne Billion) US Dollars is generated for the one week duration of the event through a strong institutional support and extensive corporate sponsorship.

Mission to Trinidad and Tobago

Following the revelation, Chief Edem Duke,  was of the opinion that Nigeria, with her human resource capital and huge entertainment market can, through the Abuja Carnival, Calabar Carnival and also, drawing from the pot of other carnivals around the country, surpass this figure.

It was with this agenda that the Minister led   a 9-man  Nigerian delegation to Trinidad and Tobago.

And the reception accorded the delegation on arrival at the capital city of Port of Spain was colourful. The International Airport in Port of Spain was adorned with carnival symbols and insignias, so much so that one did not need to be told that the country was in the mood of  a serious cultural showcasing. Beyond the symbols, there were also ushers in carnival outfits stationed in strategic but prominent areas of the airport to welcome visitors and guests.

On hand to receive the delegation were officials of the Ministry for Multiculturalism and the Arts, Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Nigerian High Commissioner to Trinidad and Tobago, Ambassador Musa John Jen.

Welcoming the Nigerian delegation, the Trinidadian Minister of State for Multiculturalism and the Arts,  Senator Embau Mokeni, who led other Government officials to the airport, expressed happiness at the arrival of Nigeria’s delegation, which he said, has a spiritual dimension.

According to Senator Mokeni, the people of African descent in Trinidad and Tobago believe they are from Nigeria and expressed the hope that the mutual experiences shared by the two nations would help strengthen relations through cultural and other exchanges to develop stronger ties  between the two countries.

In his response, Chief Edem Duke, explained that Nigeria has always seized every opportunity to connect with Black people in the Diaspora.  “I bring you greetings from the President of Nigeria, Dr. Goodluck Ebele Jonathan who believes in using culture and our common heritage to redefine relations and international diplomacy.

Once again, we express our appreciation to the Government and people of Trinidad and Tobago for this invitation and for the donation of a Steelband to Nigeria during the 2011 Abuja Carnival in Nigeria.

It is our hope that the carnival experience which is an expression of the creative spirit of our people will conjure a positive image in the minds of our people” He said.

The Minister also reiterated the urgency in furthering the synergy with other countries such as Brazil and the United States where carnivals have become a huge commercial success by exploring the possibility of having a FIFA of Carnivals in order to share experiences and mainstream Nigerian carnivals into the global circuit of carnivals.

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