By Jonathan Ugbal: Government House Correspondent and Margaret John: House of Assembly Correspondent
The theme for the 2018 edition of the Carnival Calabar and Festivals has been described as one which seeks unity among Africans to take back their rightful position in the world.
The governor, Senator Ben Ayade stated this on Sunday while flagging of the first of three Carnival dry runs where he averred that the theme; “Africanism” will also send a message to viewers and participants that the time has come for the continent to shine.
“This year’s theme like you all have heard is Africanism and so much has been done in Lagos and other places to expand what its all about but I think the time has come for Africa to really be of age,” Ayade, represented by his Deputy, Professor Ivara Esu said.
He continued: “Africa, anywhere the black man is seen tends to connote negative things of corruption, fraud and all kinds of things that are negative, drug peddling and so on but I believe that indeed if Africans can get themselves together and say no, enough of this, they will get to win back their position in the world and compete favorably with other colors.
“For instance if you look at a place like America, where we first had African slaves move to America. They started by recognising them as slaves, later on they started calling them Negroes, as they improved in education and other wellbeing, they became black Americans.
“Today because Africans have really come of age in America, they are now called African Americans to an extent where you have an African, a man of African descent Barrack Obama, the president of the greatest country in the world, America.
“So that alone shows that we here can do it. All we need to do is to change our attitude, to believe in ourselves and we hope that the bands this year will take time, sit down and really expand on this theme and ensure that they send the right message at the end of the carnival.
Every African who comes and other people who will come to attend the carnival will learn to respect Africans, to learn to see that anywhere they see a black man, he is great person and he has great potentials. And I think that is really what it is.”
Mr. Esu also explained that Africanism was more like a continuation of the two themes used in the past three editions (Climate change – 2015 and 2016 as well as migration for 2017).
“(The) Ayade’s administration has done a lot to bring understanding to the carnival Calabar. look at the various themes we have gone through and the interpretations has made us to understand more of what really should happen in this case.
“This year is Africanism. Please we encourage all of you to come and learn and see and also contribute towards espousing the theme Africanism,” he said.
The Chairman of the Carnival Commission, Mr. Gabe Onah had earlier in his remarks commended revelers and spectators for trooping out despite the rains to participate in the dry run which signified how far the Carnival has gone after fourteen years.
“The resilience of the people of Cross River State and the people of Nigeria as a whole has been demonstrated here today because this product is bottoms up driven, this product is community driven, we have even seen that the rain is about to come but we are undaunted,” Onah said.
Furthermore, Onah explained that: “The dry run in fact signifies and signals the beginning of Carnival Calabar, it tries the system on a 12 kilometer road and engages the community positively.”
He expressed optimism about the impact of the annual event which has since become the flagship tourism event in the country. “We believe that this sector is about to change the lives of our boys and girls, its growing from strength to strength,” Onah said.
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