Abuja Carnival is a must to be this year
The cultural climate, social status, business tune and the statuesque of reading culture at Nigeria’s capital city, Abuja, is expected to wear a new look between Thursday, November 22 and 25, 2007.
The world’s representatives of arts and culture, stakeholders and practitioners will converge to celebrate Nigeria’s culture at the Abuja Carnival. This annual cultural event has as theme for this year Celebrate Culture, Experience Life.
Among other things, Nobel laureate Wole Soyinka, Professor Femi Osofisan, former director general of National Theatre, and other notable poets within and outside Nigeria would treat the audience with poetry readings.
This is a new and beautiful addition to the catalogue of programmes for the carnival since its inception especially to the literary community.
Also, every night of the carnival is a big party. About five or six artistes would perform per night and exhibitions of arts and culture artefacts and the likes would be mounted daily. There would be food fairs competitions from different ethnic groups and regions at the carnival. Natural drinks such as fresh palm wine, kunu and other varieties from most of Nigeria’s villages and ethnic groups would be available at the carnival.
Chairman of Abuja Carnival Management Committee, Dr. Ahmed Yerima, who is also the director general and chief executive officer (CEO) of the National Theatre/National Troupe of Nigeria, made these information available at a press parley recently.
The four-day programme, according to Yerima, has been packaged to be the largest street carnival of arts and culture of its kind in the world, with the primary motive of showcasing Nigeria and Nigerians.
The main carnival attractions, which have been speculated to be not less than 200,000 people for each event, include the Durbar at the Royal Equestrian Club, Masquerade Fiesta at the Eagle Square, Children’s Splash at the Millennium Park, and Boat Regatta at Jabi Dam. The Carnival’s Live Stages has been slated for about 400,000 people, Sound System Music would be for about 120,000 people, while Food Fairs and other exhibitions have been programmed for about 80,000 people.
It is worthy of note that all these events and other carnival activities are free of charge.
No fewer than two million guests are expected to grace the occasion, which would take place in the streets of Abuja municipality and around the Shehu Shagari Way Eagle Square, Ralph Shodeinde Street, and Ahmadu Bello Way.
The carnival, according to organisers, is a creative occasion showcasing Nigeria’s unique heritage of history, culture and modernity to the world. All 36 states of the federation and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) would be involved in this year’s carnival as usual. Unlike past carnivals, the private sector, which would be involved in this year’s event, has been given a list of cultural assignments to make the carnival exceptionally colourful.
Among other things, they have been asked to brand the horses, T-shirts and a number of other materials.
Nigeria has over 250 ethnic groups with vast cultural diversity. This year’s carnival is therefore, a medium through which the hidden arts and cultures from all nooks and crannies of Nigeria would be unveiled for the world to see.
Nigeria is the largest black nation on earth, with a population of over 140 million people. It is also the ninth largest market for products and services in the world.
The organising committee believes that with the expected massive spectators and media coverage, the Abuja Carnival would provide opportunities for effective and focused promotional and marketing initiatives for companies.
It was gathered that participants would be availed the opportunity to see the art and science of masquerading and traditional music and dance from every corner of Nigeria, thereby creating an atmosphere of joy, beauty and harmony.
The carnival is a gathering for music, dance, food and street trading with colourful parades, costumes, with some designed along comical, satirical, historical and pastoral themes. This creates a mass movement of people, some on floats with traditional music and pure African Jazz.
Yerima stated that the carnival is a forum to see "both the beautiful and the ugly masquerades in Nigeria."
To ensure the audience enjoys every bit of their stay in Abuja for the carnival, organisers said there are three live music stages that would feature over 20 popular and international artistes. There are also 10 sites powered by heavy sound systems providing music for a large number of carnival revelers.
The carnival’s Climax Village is centred on the multi-purpose 7,000-seat arena of Eagle Square.
Statistically, about 60 per cent of expected guests are under 46 years; foreign visitors and tourists have been estimated to constitute bout 15 per cent of guests, visitors from Nigeria are expected to be about 65 per cent of the estimated total, while media coverage and exposure account for audience in excess of 40 million people.
The Abuja Carnival Management Committee is made up of a team of professionals and experts who are drawn from within and outside Nigeria.
The Federal Government through the Ministry of Culture and Tourism has the responsibility for strategic orientation and direction of the carnival, while the committee is responsible for all tactical and operational decisions and policies regarding the carnival.
The three main objectives of the committee as revealed at the conference include enabling as many people as possible to enjoy the arts and culture of Nigeria in relation to music, dance and costumes; demanding and assisting in development of the highest possible creative standards at the carnival and other activities; developing and expanding the arts and culture economy of Nigeria through the carnival.
According to the committee, they aim at expanding the broadcast of the event through satellite arrangements, while the Nigerian Television Authority (NTA) and Africa Independent Television (AIT) have jointly agreed to transmit the event live.
Other independent television and radio crews have received permission to record and broadcast the event in Nigeria and other parts of the world after the carnival.
The committee has furnished an Abuja carnival-sponsoring organisation with a broad range of benefits designed to capitalise on the massive spectator presence at the carnival and the attendant media coverage available during the period and after.
It is noted that apart from any commercial motivation, which may be felt by businesses sponsoring the Abuja Carnival, there is also the broad picture of socio-economic development or contribution to the improvement of the quality of life at local and national levels of Nigeria’s economy and society.
There is therefore, massive opportunities for organisations to promote their products in a direct sense, but also to promote the company’s image through association with a prestigious, well-defined and high quality event aimed at entertaining Nigeria and the world.
In a related development, Iba, the dance drama by the National Troupe, which toured the United States last September, would be staged in Abuja as part of the carnival. The play was devised and directed by Ahmed Yerima, and choreographed by Arnold Udoka.
Soyinka’s classic, Bachae of Euripides, which would end the National Theatre/National Troupe 2007 season of theatrical productions, would have its rehearsals for production after the carnival, while production would be ready for showing from December 20.
, Yerima’s play, which won the Nigerian Liquefied Natural Gas (NLNG) Prize for Literature in 2006, would be taken on a tour of major cities in Nigeria beginning November 14.
The tour, as officially informed, is facilitated by the Ford Foundation. It would commence in Abuja and end at the University of Ibadan (UI) after a performance at the Ahmadu Bello University (ABU), Zaria, University of Jos, University of Calabar, University of Port Harcourt and the University of Benin.
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