By Wuraola Ogunsanya
Semi-finalists of the Fayrouz L'Original Expression Show will not forget their trip to Calabar, Cross River, in a hurry. From the 19th to the 21st of June they stayed in the beautiful city, and the premium natural drink from the stables of Nigerian Breweries Plc, Fayrouz gave the semifinalists and judges an unforgettable experience.
Right from the Margaret Ekpo Airport, the city of Calabar unfolds into a scenic layout that resonates the state's slogan 'The Nation's Paradise'. Being a coastal city, it exudes a serene ambience with its aquatic and vegetation elements. The streets are lined up with trees on both sides and the grass are neatly arranged as if it's constantly combed. Also, Calabar takes pride in its unique culture. A copious evidence of this is the way the Roundabouts are designed with traditional artifacts. For instance, the 8 Miles Roundabout has a big signage that welcomes guests to the city. The Harbour Junction which links to the Muritala Mohammed Highway also have sculptures of the popular Ekpo Masquerade, the earthenware pot among others.
The contestants' first adventure of the city was at Tinapa Resort where they were lodged at the Tinapa Lakeside Hotels. Tinapa is a beautiful haven that was initiated by former governor of Cross River state, Donald Duke. It is about 20-30 minutes drive from the airport. It is surrounded by a rich rubber plantation and located within the Adiabo district.
It has a breathtaking landscape and occupies a vast expanse of land for business and tourism. Facilities in this oasis of paradise include the movie production studio commonly called Tinapa Studio but is currently occupied by EbonyLife TV. There are also emporiums for shops, warehouses and exhibitions. There is also the Event centre where the semi-final of the fashion show took place. Although, there is a dearth in business activities in the resort, the resort still retain its entertainment and leisure facilities. Behind the Tinapa Lakeside Hotel is an artificial lake that links to the Calabar river . The spectacular lake can be viewed from the restaurant of the hotel, providing its guests the beautiful splendour of nature. One can also see the state of the art International Conference Centre (ICC) from the hotel. In fact, the two structures are separated by the lake and there are boats to convey one from the hotel to the ICC which is still under construction. It was at the International Conference Centre that the swearing-in of the new governor of the state, Ben Ayade took place. The swimming pool of the resort is a few walking distance from the hotel. The contestants had fun playing games and swimming at this leisure spot on Monday before their departure.
On Sunday, the Fayrouz team took the contestants on a mini city tour. The contestants visited the Marina Resort, another spectacular architectural design of the city. The resort houses a museum where there are relics of re-enactment of slave period. While the museum was closed at the time of this visit, the tour guide regaled the contestants with the harrowing history of the slave trade. Little boats and ships being pulled by tugboats were seen on the water while the vegetation lining the Marina poised like a shield against the Atlantic ocean. Also at the resort are the Film House Cinema, a mini Amusement Park and hang-out zones for tourists to revel in. Perhaps, the most distinctive feature of the Marina is its scenic layout and serenity. The landscape is beautifully designed and adds splendour to the elements of nature in view. The contestants could not resist the temptation of taking selfies and wefies at this stunning resort.
The Marina Resort also shares the same vicinity with the University of Calabar Teaching Hospital. There is also the Millennium Park where the tree-lighting ceremony of the annual Calabar carnival holds. It is also at this place that longest national flag is situated. Surrounding the park are relics of slave trade and war heroes of the city. Popularly called the finger park or love garden by the locales, a beautiful sculpture of the human hands facing each other is set at the middle of the park. Situated close to it is its equivalent: a sculpture of a chained feet. Behind the Marina is the tallest building in the city Okoi Arikpo House. This is also the secretariat of the Cross
River State Tourism Bureau and the Carnival Commission and the Cross River State Export Promotional Council.
From the Marina Resort, the team proceeded to the National Museum where they were further regaled with the history of Calabar. The building was formerly the old presidency building in the pre-colnial days. This store of history has on display relics of the slave trade, old currencies, traditional artifacts like the fishing boat, the old election ballot boxes, the first telegram, mail sack, the old building structures of the city among others. On its walls are pictures of past rulers and other historical facts like the Scramble for Africa, and even pictures of brides in the fattening room. There is also the museum shop where souvenirs, clothes, beads accessories are sold. At the entrance of the museum is a small hang-out zone called the museum village. Drinks and local delicacies like the barbecued fish and roasted plaintain garnished with local spices and vegetables are sold.
At the hotel, the contestants had the pleasure to sample some of the delicacies of the city like the popular Afang soup and Edikaikong soup. There is also Ekpang Nkukwo, a meal made from grated cocoyam, water yam, cocoyam leaves and periwinkle.
Although, they had limited time to explore the city, they had a swell time in Calabar. "I wish we could stay more here. It's such a beautiful city and I like the fact that they preserved their culture." commented one of the contestants.
Bringing the contestants to Calabar is another way the brand Fayrouz is reiterating its commitment to celebrate creative talents in the industry and as well as promoting tourism in the country.
Through its Fayrouz L’Original Expression Show, the brand provides a platform for young undergraduates and fresh graduates with unique creative abilities to showcase their original works for a chance to win amazing prizes and opportunities. The contestants are in teams made up of a model, photographer, fashion designer and make-up artiste. They were required to put together original ensembles. About 453 youths applied and 134 auditioned for this year's edition in the various regions.
The Senior Brand Manager Fayrouz, Nnenna Ifebigh-hemeson stated that, "The Fayrouz L'Original Expression show is all about rewarding creative young adults. We understand that our youths have amazing talents in the creative industry and choosing fashion and style, we want to encourage these youths to express themselves in all originality and creativity."
She continued: "Bringing them to Tinapa, Calabar is a way of creating the right ambience for them to harness their creative skills. Tinapa Resort has breathtaking views and scenery where the teams can have their photo sessions and at the same time revel in the wonderful works of nature in this city. Moreover Fayrouz is all about natural elements and Tinapa resonates this in its rich vegetation, the lake and of course, its terrific landscape."
Team Meddlelane and Team Hai will compete in the finals which will hold next month in Lagos to clinch the coveted cash prize of N4 million.