Monday, April 8, 2013

Colour, glamour at Abuja carnival

By Jimoh Babatunde
The Vice President, Namadi Sambo, captured the essence of the annual Abuja Carnival that ended Tuesday night at the Eagle Square in the Federal Capital, when he said “The laudable dreams that gave birth to the carnival have continued to motivate its annual celebration, anchored on the recognition that there exists a nexus between culture and the economic and technological growth of a nation.
This indeed could be the dreams of then President Olusegun Obasanjo and his team when the carnival was initiated in 2005 as an annual event aimed at showcasing the rich and diverse cultural heritage of Nigeria and for promoting the country as a safe, warm and hospital tourism destination.
From last weekend to Tuesday, the resident of Abuja and few tourists who could muster the courage to visit the country for the carnival at short notice despite the security challenges facing the country were treated to the best of the country’s culture.
Twenty two states of the federation including some invited countries like China; Namibia; Trinidad and Tobago; Egypt took parts in activities that range from street carnival, durbar, children fiesta, cultural night, traditional food fair and bush bar, boat regatta, command performance and contemporary music fiesta.
Some streets of Abuja covered by the 18 kilometres route of the carnival were transformed Saturday and Tuesday, the opening and closing ceremonies of the carnival as participating states paraded in colourful costumes.
Rivers and Oyo states  that won the award for the best costumes and carnival floats were cynosure of all as they displayed extreme creativity in costumes, floats and dances complemented  by contemporary music.
Some of the participants at the carnival
Tourists and Nigerians alike had the opportunities of savouring the country’s rich cultural heritage at close range as well as some foreign troupes.
Though, the boat regatta event is currently losing its steam, as evident from the number of participating states which were just four, Niger; Akwa Ibom; Bayelsa and Rivers, which did not stop the crowd from enjoying the best of artistic performance and ingenuity of costumes on water.
Boat regattas are indispensable part of the annual traditional festivals in the rivirian communities which involves the use of mounted decorated canoes and paddlers, with participation opened to both sex.
It was not surprising that Rivers state came top in the boat regatta in terms of performance and costumes adopted in their presentation.
The masquerade event of the carnival has always been the centre of attractions for many participants and tourists alike as the Abuja carnival parades array of beautifully adorned masquerades with different dance steps.
This year’s edition was not an exception as the participating states paraded masquerades to the admiration of the audience.
Oyo, Akwa Ibom, Anambra, and Rivers states delight to watch, of particular interest was the Ajikwu groups of masquerades from Anambra state. They sang, beat their drums and danced to folk music. They were indeed energetic and agile in their movement.
It was a night of glamour and glitz at the banquet hall in Aso villa as the carnival was taken to the presidency.
The Vice president, Namadi Sambo leading and visiting delegates like the Prime Minister of St. Kitts and Nevis, Mr Denzil Douglas, were treated to the best of performances  by the national troupes from participating countries alongside selected Nigerian troupes.
The court sound specialist from Laventille, Trinidad and Tobago with their steel band stole the night show with rendition of popular Nigerian music, not to be forgotten too were the performances of the Imo and Kano states troupes.