By Jonathan Ugbal: Government House Correspondent
Cross River Governor, Senator Ben Ayade has challenged leaders in the African continent to provide opportunities for the young ones as only good leadership will end the trend of migration which has left thousands dead in 2017 alone.
Mr. Ayade stated this while flagging off the 2017 edition of the Carnival Calabar where he said the richness of Africa means that it is the next after Asia which has since taken over from Europe and America.
“Africa is so blessed that sometimes we begin to wonder why we have young Africans going through the Mediterranean sea, going through the Sahara desert, going through Morocco, through all those difficult roots, finding themselves in Libya being used as slaves, used as sub-human beings,”
On leadership, Ayade averred that: “For those of us who are in leadership, we have a responsibility to reverse that trend,” he argued that: “We have every opportunity as politicians and people in government to create opportunities for you to have good jobs so that you can stay back here.”
The five competing bands are expected to tell the story of migration in different dramatic forms. And, Mr. Ayade said that the state wants to see the dramatic end as it goes beyond just dancing and procession.
“It is not just about dancing and celebrating. But, it is telling a very painful and sorrowful story that ends in good hope that Africa ultimately will rule the world.
“America and Europe was in the past, Asia is today, Africa is (the) future. So why will you leave the future? The future is Africa. That is the last continent to be discovered, that is the continent that is got everything,” Ayade said.
He averred that the choice of the theme for this year’s event was apt as it will discuss and attempt to change the current narrative.
Ayade maintained that Africa remains the best place to be and welcomed all and sundry to the state whose residents he said have “strong affiliation with the history, origin and ontology of the black man,”
He added that: “Today, we are here to tell the story in form of a drama, in form of a dance procession, telling the story of migration, the problem of Africa. Our young men and women take risks through perilous roads, finding themselves in Europe and America in search of greener pastures.
“Today’s carnival is to tell the world that Africa is the richest continent. Africa is blessed, Africa’s got everything. We have no reason as a young man, as a young woman to leave the African continent. Therefore, we tell this story, the melancholy, the pain, the agony, the frustration and all that characterizes the travel.
“But indeed, the best place you can ever be is Africa. Look at the warmth, look at the energy in the atmosphere. Look at the calistanics, look at the kinematics, look at all the energy. We only do this in Africa. As we do this, we know that we will always, as Africans, we have the strength; our color shows vitality, it shows energy, it shows verve and so, we are gathered here as Africans to tell the African story from the African perspective and African narrative.”
The Governor also challenged the youths to play their part also and called on them to explore the opportunities the festival has to offer and disclosed that the interpretations of the various bands will leave the audience with mixed emotions.
“As we go into the field, we are here to do the dance, we are here to enjoy the gliterazzi, the bizarre-za and everything that characterizes African movement; we are going to all of that, enjoy yourself. You are going to watch and you are going to cry today because I know that my band leaders have taken their time to do a lot of research on migration.
“Ultimately, the aim is that we will achieve reverse migration in the fullness of time. Therefore, I call on all Africans and the entire people of the world to please be fair and treat Africans with humanity, be fair to them as they find themselves in your country.
“Governments of Africa are making efforts to bring them back. We shall and we will and I know we will. As we do so, we want to cut this tape in celebration of Africans who are on their way back to Africa,” Ayade said.
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Ayade was joined by his wife, Linda Ayade; his Deputy, Professor Ivara Esu an his wife, Omotunde Esu; the Speaker of the House of Assembly, Honorable John Lebo; Winner Miss Africa 2016, Neurite Mendes and 2017, Gaseangwe Balopi, as well as several other top government functionaries and representatives of partners.
Also, carnival troupes from Imo state, Morocco and other partners were in attendance.
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