Rhythms, colours of calabar carnival 2018

Calabar Carnival. Photo: Hotels NG


It was indeed a spectacular celebration of the rich African culture and heritage at the 2018 Calabar Carnival, which brought together millions of tourists and revelers from different parts of the world to the Canaanland for the yearly feast.

Usually a 32-day celebration from December 1 to January 1, this year’s edition held under the theme Africanism, was used to tell the story of the African race. The carnival is the peak of tourism in Cross River State, and perhaps the whole of Nigeria, as tourists from all over the world gather for the period to share in the African history.

Aside from the five competing bands for the carnival, which includes Bayside Band, Master Blaster Band, Seagulls Band, Freedom Band, Passion 4 Band and other local bands, over 26 countries from different continents joined in this year’s procession to display the culture and heritage from Nigeria and beyond. The drama, music, dance and costume showcased by participants, were all creatively tailored to tell a particular story about the African race. For sure, Naija beats ruled the air.

Among the list of countries that participated in the International Carnival competition at the U.J Esuene Stadium include Ghana, Mexico, South Africa, Indonessia, Lithuania, Brazil, Kenya, Senegal, Tanzania, Switzerland, United States of America, Canada and Ukraine.

In the end, South Africa has emerged the winner of the International Carnival. The dancers, against all odds, put a scintillating performance to gain the coveted top spot at the event. With bold bare skin, Zulu dancers thrilled the carnival revellers and lit up the event with their cultural dance steps. Even when the sound went off, the South Africa team held their grounds to the admiration of the crowd.

Mexico came second with their beautiful display that earned them several rounds of applause. The Mexican men, who wore a white shirt and red trousers, moved in symmetry with their female counterpart who wore beautiful red attires, as they entertained the crowd.

Lithuania, which put a crowd sharing performance, settled for the third position. The crowed was impressed by the group’s acrobatic display of fireworks. In fact, some sections of the stadium’s lighting systems were put off to enable the audience better appreciate the fire presentation by the group.

Also, Ethiopia, Ukraine, USA, Kenya, Ghana, Swaziland and Brazil were also present at the event. Though Swaziland didn’t make the top spot, they were one of the brides of the revellers at the carnival. Like their South African neighbor, they put up a fascinating performance with bold bare skin Swazi dance with energetic dance steps. Ghana also put up a good performance with a blend of acrobatic and bare skin dance mixed with some spiritual display.

Meanwhile, residents and revellers at the carnival were yesterday treated to a breathtaking showpiece by over 5000 power bikers and 300 vintage cars drivers.The Bikers Carnival, which is in its second edition as a spice to the carnival offering, drew bikers and drivers from America, Canada, Australia, Germany and other parts of the world including Africa. Also participating on the program tagged Wonders On Wheels, were a wide range of convertibles numbering about 300 as well as other vintage cars that existed in 70s.

Flagging off the event at the Millennium Park Roundabout, which serves as the take off point, Cross River governor, Prof Ben Ayade intimated that “this new version was introduced to pump the adrenaline of the young people.”His words: “This is a new version of what our Carnival Calabar entails. Today, we are taking you through a variety of different action on the wheels. This is a new option and we just introduced this to ensure that we pump the adrenaline of young people.”

Ayade, who arrived the flag off point with a red and black bandana and accompanied by his wife, Linda, said, “I got some friends from the United States, Australia, Canada who just arrived Calabar to be with us for this carnival, so you are lucky to have this opportunity to watch the first option of formula K in Calabar.”

The governor charged tourists and visitors to the state to “take advantage of the beauty, greenery and all that exists in Calabar to enjoy the warmth, embrace and the agility of the African man, providing a shoulder for all to lean on,” adding, “please find time while here to savour this rich city.”

On the 2018 Calabar Carnival theme, the governor said, “With the theme Africanism, Africa has the opportunity of telling the whole world its story the way it knows best which is through its dance and bright colours. Civilisation started in Africa, so, Africa must take its pride of place in the world. We are also here to show that Africa as a continent is the future, Europe is the past while Asia was the present,” he added.

Earlier, Chairman Cross River Carnival Commission, Mr. Gabe Onah, disclosed that the vintage cars on the streets had existed when many were not born.He lauded Ayade for his vision to introduce an addendum to the fleets of events lined up to spice up the Carnival Calabar program.

The power bikes, convertibles and vintage cars had a field day along the 14 kilometres Carnival Calabar routes entertaining over 40,000 spectators who watched them perform a variety of stunts.In his New Year message, Ayade urged Cross Riverians to be hopeful of a better 2019 as the foundation his administration has laid in the last three years is progressively being crystalized through the rapid industrialization of the state. 

The governor said the herald of a New Year, which comes with new vistas, new aspirations and a revitalized hope, offers Cross Riverians the chance to look forward to a better Cross River in 2019.

According to him, “Seeing out a year gone by and ushering in a new one is always a moving experience. If we take stock of the year gone by, we have every reason to be happy as our expectations are being fulfilled and our efforts at building a virile, stable and sustainable Cross River is crystalizing.”  

While soliciting a hand of fellowship to actualise the dreams envisioned by his administration, the governor said, “Today, I thank you for standing by us so far and for the great support we have received from you. I also urge you to stretch your hands along with me that together, we may force a dawn of greatness on Cross River State.”

Ayade, who highlighted the giants steps he has taken in the last three years to reposition the state and decouple it from the federal allocation, noted that “massive industrialization in the area of the establishment of the Calabar Garment Factory, the Rice seedlings and multiplication centre, the cocoa processing plant in Ikom, the fully automated and digitalized rice mill in ogoja, the piles and pylons factory in Akamkpa, are some of the strides we have made towards making the state self-reliant.”

Others according to the governor, include the tooth pick factory in Ekori, in Yakurr Local Government Area, the Banana plantation in Odukpani, the Noodle and chicken processing factories, organic fertilizer plant all in Calabar, the British/Canadian international school in Obudu. Assuring that 2019 signals the crystallisation of the momentum begun three years ago, Ayade, said, “As we begin a new voyage to a New Year, it offers us another unique opportunity to consolidate on our well scripted chapter with exhilarating pages that are worth reading by the end of the year.”

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