By Anayo Okoli
UMUAHIA—IGBERE, the fast transforming rural community in Bende Council Area of Abia State, was agog and in festive mood last Saturday, as huge crowd of natives, neighbours, friends and well wishers converged on the Camp Neya Carnival Village, for the maiden edition of its cultural carnival, which kicked off with pomp and pageantry.
The aim of the carnival, which the planners and sponsors said will be an annual event, is to use culture to bring greater unity, love and peace among the peoples of the community, its neigbours, the state and the nation at large which ultimately would bring more development to the area.
With the theme, Celebrating our heritage, the event which was attended by prominent Nigerians, including representatives of the Minister of Information and Culture, royal fathers and high flying politicians, featured several colourful dance and cultural groups, masquerades from the villages that make up Igbere community as well as other entertainments such as live bands and comedians.
Sponsored by Orji Uzor Kalu Foundation with support from business concerns owned by indigenes of the community, including Suntrust Bank, Alex Mascot Foundation, Princess Hotel and Sun Heaven Hotels and Resort, the event is staged to create a platform for the promotion and celebration of Igbere cultural heritage in a carnival atmosphere to enhance the tourism potentials of Igbere Clan.
Declaring the carnival open, the former Governor of Abia State and the man behind the event, Chief Orji Uzor Kalu called for a cultural rebirth in the country, urging states and communities in the nation to elevate culture not only as a way of life but as a means of earning revenue for development.
According to Kalu, the cultural carnival was staged in the realisation of the role culture can play in the life of a community and the country and commended the very impressive crowd that graced the event for their interest in the affairs and development of Igbere community.
Kalu further said that it was in compliance with the directive of President Muhammadu Buhari for communities and states to look inwards and use culture to diversify the economy and earn revenue that his foundation sponsored the carnival and announced that the scope of subsequent editions would be enlarged. He promised to take the carnival to greater heights and to sponsor best troupes for two consecutive editions to Brazil carnival.
“It is going to be fun, enjoyment, eating and drinking and merry- making,” Kalu said, and commended the organising committee and the Igbere community “for coming out to support the event.”
Dignitaries at the event include former Minister of Labour and Productivity, Chief Emeka Wogu, Senator Chris Adighije, APC South-East Chairman, Chief Emma Enukwu; Enugu State APC Chairman, Ben Nwoye; Retired Abia State Chief Judge, Justice Sunday Imo and some serving Judges, Mrs. Eunice Orji Kalu and the Brigade Commander, 14 Brigade Ohafia, Brigadier-General A. K. Ibrahim. Others include the immediate past Speaker of Abia State House of Assembly, Chief Martins Azubuike and Chief Sam Nkire, among others.