COLOURS, SPECTACLE AT ABUJA CARNIVAL
With a total of 29 states making it to this year's Abuja Carnival, the Federal Government may have recorded yet another feat in showcasing Nigeria's culture and diversity to the delight of the people. Although the remaining seven states could not make it due largely to financial challenges, the carnival, as usual, rallied people in their thousands, many of who trooped to different venues to savour the events in the federal capital.
It was equally graced by Egypt, Canada and India, whose artistes are fast becoming a regular feature on Nigeria's cultural landscape.
The street parade that preceded the opening on Saturday was full of spectacle as state contingents brandished their cultural attributes in colourful costumes, props and assessories. Many of these states deplored their potentials by giving creative interpretations to theme of the carnival which centred on Nigeria at 50.
They moved in a procession from Area 3 to Eagle Square, singing, dancing and mesmerising the people. Many of the states were at their best in decorations and designs, just as their floats depicted creative images of animals, acquatic world and sometimes landscapic products and values. Among states that caught the fancy of participants during the parade as well as the opening ceremonies were Akwa Ibom, Nasarawa,Oyo, Anambra and Rivers.
The children's programme at the Millenium Park was quite illuminating. Although it started about two hours behind schedule, the event which was sponsored by Indomie saw chidren displaying their talents in dance, music and fashion.They were a delight to watch in Efik,Swange, Bata and contemporary dance forms. Aside exposing the children to their culture and heritage, the show essentially provided another platform for the kids to showcase their talents.
Quite expectedly, the absence of the Durbar this year was notable as many of the participants who trooped to the venue met only the polo competition. They missed the usual spectacle of colourfully dressed horses and their riders in procession, but Prof. Ojo Rasaki Bakare explained the challenges faced by the organisers with the last minute failure by states to bring their durbar to Abuja. He said that the chief executives of participating states went on holy pilgrimage and that by the time they returned to their states (after attending the Council of State meeting in Abuja) it was too late for them to release funds to move the horses to meet the opening.
But what the crowd missed in the durbar was probably regained in the brief polo competition as well as the boat regatta, cultural night and command performance. The cultural night had a befitting, spacious venue with a raised platform serving as the stage. Thousands of people were seated comfortably to be part of the show which saw the states mounting the stage in turns to thrill the crowd in their peculiar dance forms. Again, states like Akwa Ibom, Anambra, Oyo, Nasarawa, Rivers and Bayelsa were quite creative in their respective performances.
Similarly, the boat regatta at Jabi Dam paraded a team of exciting participants who used their boats to entertain in celebration of Nigeria's acquatic culture. With Dr Backlays Ayakoroma as chairman, joined by other dignitaries like Prof Segun Ojewuyiand Sam Dede, the game signified another form of entertainment that brought with it renewed creativity and skill on the part of participating states. Among states that dazzled the anxious crowd were Nasarawa,Benue, Bayelsa, Rivers and Delta.
Nasarawa has a well decorated boat in the form of a crocodile, while Bayelsa brought in an artificial crocodile that looked so real that it scared some members of the audience. The artistes in the boats were seen in their beautiful costumes dancing and singing while the audience were also treated to other land and acquatic games.