Imo State 2015 Carnival Of Splendour, Fantasy And Triumph
Carnival art offers us a dynamic tool for self expression, self discovery and re-orientation. A tool for seeking out our roots, a tool to develop new forms of looking at the world and its cultures, to discover what we have in common, celebrate what makes us different and also a tool of promoting unity in our state.
Carnival festivals which could be traced back to ancient Greek festival was later adopted and modified by the Roman Catholic Church in Europe as a celebration leading up to Ash Wednesday. After gaining traction in Christendom, the festival was moved to the Caribbean by the European slave traders.
Three major cities have emerged in the world for hosting the world's best carnivals and attracting millions of tourists annually. Trinidad, Rio d janeiro and Notting hill.
Trinidad is the Island in the Caribbean with the most developed and well known carnival and wherever the Trinidadians go, they go with their carnival culture. Brazil's capital, Rio d Janeiro's carnival is considered the world's largest, hosting approximately two million participants per day, while the Notting Hill Carnival, an annual event that has since 1966 taken over the streets of Notting Hill, England, attracts around one million people annually, making it one of the world's largest street festivals in Great Britain.
Coming back home, the story is not different, carnivals have become very popular in Nigeria with Calabar as the largest street party in Africa. Other states like Akwa Ibom, Rivers, Lagos etc have through carnivals placed their states on the world's tourism and hospitality map.
Right here in Imo state, in line with the people's governor, Owelle Rochas Anayo Okorocha's vision of making Imo state the number one tourist destination for Nigerians and tourists across the globe and in keeping to his re-election campaign promises of “jobs, factories and industries”, has started on a familiar terrain in making Imo state a hub of tourism and hospitality in Nigeria.
After many weeks of wielding, sewing, gluing applying feathers, sequins, foils, papers, glitter and lots of creativity, practice, energy and patience, Imo state government, through a 15 man planning committee headed by the prodigious and insightful explicator of Igbo tradition, HRH Eze Ben Igwilo of Osina in Ideato North LGA of Imo state, organized an elaborate 2015 Imo Community Cultural Carnival.
The carnival which suited the traditional and modern life style of our people also hosted series of activities in the 3 days packaged event that lasted from Saturday 19th –Monday 21st December 2015.
On the 19th, the traditional authorities with a modernized and united impulse hosted carnival in the city of Owerri. The carnival showcased the rich cultural heritage of various autonomous communities in the state.
On Sunday 20th was the state Christmas Carol co-hosted by Imo state chapter of Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) at Imo International Conference Centre (IICC). After the carol, the people's governor, Owelle Anayo Rochas Okorocha crossed over to Freedom Square, (directly beside IICC) for the lighting of the 30 metre-Christmas tree in celebration of Christmas .The lighting of the Christmas tree was accompanied by varieties of fireworks which provoked wild jubilation across the state as the tallest Christmas tree in Nigeria and the first of its kind in Imo state.
On the 21st, hosted the most anticipated and the most talked about of all the festivities, it was more than a carnival, it was a combination of contemporary Caribbean and Nigeria's rich cultural heritage. The 2015 carnival which attracted thousands of tourists from other states and around the world could best be described in 3 words: Splendour, Fantasy and Triumph.
In Splendour, the carnival offered us magnificent scenery as well as exceptional beauty, very elaborate and impressive. All the floats mesmerized the spectators with their dance steps, gorgeously adorned in different and unique feathered headdresses, with colourful costumes.
Fantasy: a creation of the imaginative faculty was expressed in all the floats, many different forms of decorations and materials (natural and man-made) were used to transform the costume into a dream of the mind's eye.
Triumph: The carnival was a celebration of creativity and culture that blended with both the traditional and modern life style of the people of Imo state and like a nubile maiden serenading her new found lover, all the participants exuded sense of grandeur and in sheer excitement, the carnival took off from Freedom Square in colourful displays to bank road. The people's governor, Owelle Anayo Rochas Okorocha his amiable wife, Nneoma Nkechinyere Rochas Okorocha, his cabinet and the entire Members of Staff of Imo State Government House were all present at Douglas Souvenir, in front of Imo Government House Victory Chapel to where each of the floats, from the Governor's float to the Deputy governor's, down to the Speaker and Deputy Speaker of the House of Assembly, Chief of staff, the Deputy Chiefs of Staff, Secretary to the State Government, Members of the House of Assembly, IMGH Victory Chapel, Rochas Foundation, the 27 Local Government, Tertiary institutions, Transition Committee Chairmen, Civil Servants, Individuals, etc., in their colourful displays, entertained the first family, the cheering spectators, before proceeding to Wetheral road towards the end of Fire Service Junction and through same route returned to Freedom Square, where the governor, the panel of judges and the entire Imolites in sheer excitement and under the flood lights watched each of the floats compete in a colourful and revolutionary dance steps to select the best float of the year 2015.
The carnival which lasted throughout the night saw its high point when the rave of the moment, Phyno was introduced back stage to thrill the crowd and there was never a dull moment as he entertained the jubilant crowd with his hit songs all through the night.
The Deputy Speaker's float was announced the winner of the 2015 Imo state carnival with #10 million cash prize. The announcement of the winner was a joyous moment for everyone that was directly or indirectly involved in the carnival; it brought back past history, celebrated the culture and tradition of our people and created wealth and employment for Imolites and maximized the tourism potentials of Imo state.
Written by Joseph Chimezie.