By BENJAMIN NJOKU
After 10 years of organizing Africa’s biggest street party, the Calabar Carnival has become an integral part of the state.
The Chairman, Carnival Calabar Commission, Mr. Gabe Onah, disclosed this while speaking with HVP. According to him, it will be difficult for any successive government in the state to attempt to stop the carnival for any reason. “The carnival has a life of its own, and our desire is that a carnival should represent our lifestyle and that has come to stay.”
Looking at the journey so far, Onah said, the aim of setting up the carnival has been achieved. “The festival runs for 32 days, while the carnival runs for four days. The carnival is an event built into the festival but it has become the centre of attraction. You can imagine the socio-economic impact the carnival is making on the state.
This is a strategy that was introduced to change lives in the state; a vision that has been converted into a commercial success and an effort to bring a mass of people into the city, after which they will savour our products and our offerings.
It has worked for us coming from the public sector and our future is to move it to the private sector so that sustainability will be achieved. That’s why the children carnival was introduced as well as the cultural parade so that it can become our bedrock.
It is difficult to put a figure to it. The carnival route was constructed because of the festival, the cleanliness of the city, the lawns we are tendering and our hygiene are all a gamut. So, it is difficult to say, but are we getting results? Yes. Are we creating employment? Yes, safety and our existence.
The youths get employed, the art and industry behind the carnival art are huge and boundless. From beads making to raffia, costuming, dancing and make-up, are the opportunities that are thrown up for the carnival. What you are seeing here today started from rehearsal since July.”