If what happened at the U J Esuene Stadium yesterday was a tip of the iceberg of the Calabar Carnival then those who say that it is the biggest cultural festival in Africa have a point.
The occasion was the opening ceremony of the 66th All Nigeria Athletics Championships which Cross River is hosting. The ceremony did not go beyond one hour but it was so compact and stupendously entertaining that people got emotional about the performers.
Truly, Cross River is the destination point in tourism and entertainment. Their hospitality is unique and their performance both on stage and in services, whatever they are, thrill you.
A group called Cross River All Stars kicked off the day with a beautiful song – Destination Point. It was a combination of a high pitched melody and some jibes that really touched many.
Their stage performance which rhymed with their song was entertaining. All stars are products of the Carnival which takes place every December.
As they stepped aside, a group of traditional dancers, with rich cultural costumes, stormed the field. The sound of the instruments, the dance steps of the dancers and how their waists complemented their legs made people warm. They performed Nyok, Monikim and Ekeledi dances and made people happy. Five carnival bands entertained before children ranging from 3 years to five took the stage and did theirs.
”Cross River is silently carving out a country of their own,” highly impressed Ken Anugwuze, a member of AFN and chairman of NUGA said.
”You are building and developing the future of children here,” Solomon Ogba, AFN President told Governor Liyel Imoke. Cross River has a special programme for school sports and they are also not leaving them out in the entertainment industry.
”This is nothing compared to what happens in the Calabar Carnival. You will need to be here to appreciate it,” Commissioner of sports in Cross River State, Patrick Ugbe said, “wait and see what will happen in 2014. We are starting now and we will not hire foreigners.”
They will host the National Sports Festial that year. Rivers state took the festival to unprecedented level last year and Cross River plans to out-do them with local content. Rivers hired Chinese workers for their spectacular show.