Since the Cross River Carnival Commission introduced the International Carnival Day, it has been lapped by wave after wave of big performances by foreign artistes.
Last December, performers from across the globe thrilled the audience at the full capacity Margaret Ekpo International Stadium, with each unique performance exciting the boisterous crowd in different ways.
The excitement became enervated on Friday night through Saturday morning as bands from different countries took centre stage. There were cultural dances from Ukraine, Mexico and Ethiopia, acrobats from Senegal, Croatia and Kenya, as well as flag twirlers from Italy.
The Croats were wonderful in their costumes, but more importantly, showed knowledge of circuit performance and stilt dancing. France was also represented by a colourful dance troupe while Lithuania stole the show at a point, with two fire performers wowing the audience with their fearless display with flames and fireworks.
Numerous African countries were represented through ensembles that brought a lot of traditional dances under the lights of the stadium to entertain as well as educate on each country’s history. The Ethiopian troupe explored the country’s dance history, with the upper body being the most used.
Tanzania, Kenya and Swaziland and South Africa, with two different sets of performers, performed. The South Africans displayed energetic Zulu war dances. The chest-baring and solid voices provided a nifty bit of wonder for the magic carpet, which appeared to float softly around the action without benefit of stage. Still, this isn’t the most impressive feat of trickery on display in the international carnival.
The Ghanaians were especially engaging, with a combination of female dancers and drummers, and male acrobats and magicians. That would be Ghana’s inexhaustible determination to a trademark slant on the musical formula. Obviously, the production’s relentless razzle-dazzle and its anything-for-a-laugh spirit also infused the show with a winking suggestion: If you can’t be yourself, just be fabulous.
However, the 2017 Calabar Carnival owed an inspirational debt to Governor Ben Ayade’s cumulative portraits of the culturally rich state. Speaking on this year’s theme, “Migration”, Ayade said Africa is the future and encouraged the youth to “put an end to migration, and should rather come to Calabar as we have provisions for jobs and have created opportunities as politicians and people in government, for you to have good jobs so that you can stay back here.”
He said further: “Today in Calabar, we have people from the United States, Germany, Mexico, Sweden and others celebrating with us in this carnival; we want to tell them that Africa is so rich.”
Governor Ayade stated that the carnival’s theme: ‘Migration’ was timely at a time African youths were seeking greener pastures outside the continent. “Sometimes we begin to wonder why we have young Africans going through Morocco, Mediterranean Sea, Sahara desert and all the difficult routes to find themselves in Libya and being used as slaves and as sub-human beings.
“Today, we are here to tell a story in form of a drama and procession, a story of migration, the problem of Africa. Our young men and women take risk through perilous roads finding themselves in Europe and America in search of greener pasture. Today’s carnival is to tell the world that Africa is the richest continent. Africa is blessed, we have everything; and we have no reason, as a young man or woman struggling, to leave African continent.”