By Jonathan Ugbal/Ogar Monday/Oto-Obong Clement
Eleven countries yesterday confirmed their participation at this year’s edition of the Carnival Calabar, just as the final dry run was concluded with a test run of the facilities and routes for what is famously billed as Africa’s biggest street party.
Countries expected to hoist their cultural flags at the carnival are: Vai Vai band from Brazil, Acrobatic dancers of Henan, China, Flamenco Dancers of Spain, Flag Twirlers of Italy and Oasis Circus from France.
Others are Belize carnival, Wonder Drummers of Burundi, Ghana National Troupe, Masai dancers of Kenya, Cultural Ballet of Rwanda as well as a band from Zimbabwe.
The final dry run (mock carnival) witnessed thousands of revellers in dance parade along the 12 kilometers carnival route to signal their readiness for the big event on December 28.
The decision to walk the revellers through the traditional 12 kilometres route, from the Millenium park through Mary Slessor, Marian road, Ndidem Usang-Iso (Marian Road) then into MCC and the Murtala Muhammed highway and finally terminating at the Udoakaha Jacob Esuene stadium on Saturday, was a departure from the past two dry runs which terminated halfway and begs the question whether organizers are reconsidering their earlier stance on terminating the main Carnival at the MCC by Mobil Junction.
Also on show were revelers from the five competing bands comprising Seagull, Freedom, Passion 4, Bayside and Masta Blasta, displaying the latest dance steps with energy and panache.
Speaking before takeoff from the Millennium Park, Cross River State Deputy Governor, Prof. Ivara Esu, maintained that arrangement was in top gear to host a hitch-free, best and bigger carnival with international flavor.
The Deputy Governor who said he was shocked at the unprecedented crowd to the mock event said: “I am so excited at the large turnout of the bands’ revelers in this last dry run. It is as if we are doing the carnival proper. This has definitely spurred us to put in more energy and resources to package this event in anticipation for the huge crowd that will grace this year’s carnival.
“We are using this dry run to announce to the world that we are ready to host them and to also see where we have not done enough to correct them so as to host an event that will be enjoyed by participants and its audience globally,” he added.