The best Calabar Carnival in 10 years

Carnival Calabar might have presented the best ever Carnival this year. I know we would all say that they started and ended late, crowd control was poor and there was confusion everywhere but let’s face it, this was a Carnival like no other.
Everybody had fun! Let’s say the truth, with all the visible and maybe stupid errors made by organisers, everybody found a way to have fun and that’s why I give this Carnival an A.
For the first time, Carnival Calabar lived up to her purpose; Africa’s Biggest Street Party. Yes for the very first time, the Carnival was less of a show and more of a party. For the first time, it was not all about the Carnival performances and floats, it was more of friends coming out to have fun, meeting old and new friends and just taking advantage of the platform Carnival gave them to be themselves, to dress like they wanted and not feel weird. Even I had my best hair braids on.
The speakers along Marian added so much value to the event. There was music everywhere else too. Area boys did their one corner in every corner. Cool dudes danced around with their wine glasses. Boys met sexy girls. It was indeed a big party.
I see a turn around in what Carnival Calabar is all about. Nobody cares about the performances. When they turn up in the streets, they come with their own fun. Whether the Carnival starts early or not, nobody cares, the party already started where we chilling. Whether the trucks play our song or not, no one cares, we came with our own music.
The people have given up. They can no more wait for the Government to make Carnival Calabar great again. Carnival Calabar has officially been hijacked by those that matter most: the people.
In what was total shutdown of the city of Calabar, over a million revellers thronged the 12kms route, to watch an endless stretch of carnival bands to interprete this year’s theme of Migration through drama and dance.
Apart from the crowd that greeted the biggest street party in Africa, there was also an increased addition of four non-competting bringing the total number of bands to nine, with five competing.
Significantly, the 2017 carnival also played host to a 1500-man contingent from Imo State who on ground to understudy the annual event.
Flagging off the event at the Millennium Park Calabar, Cross River governor, Prof Ben Ayade, lamented that Africa remained blessed and rich, wondering why young men and women had reasons to leave its shores.
Meanwhile, Cross River State governor, Professor Ben Ayade, has said this year’s Carnival Calabar, with the theme: Migration, will tell a very powerful story about Africa and ultimately end the menace migration has brought to Africa.
The governor spoke, yesterday while flagging off the 13th edition of Africa’s biggest street party, Carnival Calabar 2017, at the Millennium Park in Calabar.
He said: “We are gathered here to tell the African story ourselves and we have to put an end to migration. We are calling on the entire world gathered here to celebrate with us that Africa is so blessed and rich. Why should Africans go through such perilous routes and then end up being used as slaves and sub-humans in Libya and other parts of the world, just because they are looking for greener pastures? We must put an end to that.
“Today, our young men take risks and pass through perilous routes to seek greener pastures in Europe and America. This year’s carnival is to tell everybody that Africa is the richest continent and the future belongs to her. Africa is so blessed and there is no reason for the young men in Africa to struggle to leave the continent. We have to tell the story that the best place you can even be is in Africa.
“The festival is not just about dancing and celebrations but telling a very powerful story that ends in hope. Today, we are going to tell the story in the form of a dance procession and tell the story of migration which is the problem of Africa. America and Europe are the past today and Africa is the future. The future is Africa because it is the last continent to be discovered”, the governor said. This year’s carnival procession has five competing bands and also a number of other bands which are non – competing including a 1,500 man delegation from Imo State which is led by the deputy speaker of the state house of assembly.
The delegation from Imo State is participating as part of the Memorandum of Understanding which was recently signed between the government of Cross River and Imo State.
Ayade, who after the flag off led the the bands through the carnival routes amidst cheers by the young, old and visitors into the state, disclosed that “Africa is so blessed and rich. Sometimes we begin to wonder why young Africans go through the Mediterranean sea, Sahara desert through Morocco and other difficult routes finding themselves in Libya, used as slaves and reduced as subhumans,” adding that, “we must put an end to that.”
Reasoning that Africa is the future and the only continent that has everything, the governor enjoined young men and women to, “put an end to migration, and should rather come to Calabar as we have provisions for jobs and have created opportunities as politicians and people in government, for you to have good jobs so that you can stay back here.”
To Africa leaders at all levels, Ayade maintained that “we have a responsibility to reverse the trend associated with migration for that is what the theme this year is telling us. As we watch the bands dance and tell their story in a dramatic form, we want to see the interpretation which is the ultimate aim.”
Continuing, the governor intimated that “this year’s carnival is not just about dancing and celebrating, but telling a very painful and sorrowful story as it relates to migration,” adding that “in due time Africa will rule the world.”
Advocating the return of migrant Africans to their respective countries instead of taking risks through perilous roads in the quest for greener pastures, Ayade said, “governments of Africa will continue to make efforts at ensuring that they return, we shall, we will and will do so.
ATQ news

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