50 thousand revellers perform at 2019 Carnival Calabar

Eme Offiong, Calabar


An estimated fifty thousand revelers have performed at this year’s Carnival Calabar held in Cross River State, south-south Nigeria.

The revellers are members of the five competing bands in the carnival and these include Bayside identified in Blue and led by the wife of the former governor, Mrs. Onari Duke.

The next is seagull band recognised by the colour red with a former Special Adviser to the Nigerian President on legislative matters, Senator Florence Ita-Giwa as leader.

Another band, which brands itself in orange, Masta Blasta is led by a serving lawmaker in the nation’s upper legislative house, Senator Gershom Bassey; while another legislator, Representative Chris Agibe heads Passion 4 associated with the colour green.

The fifth band known as Freedom spots yellow colour and has Captain Brisibe as its leader.

Competition Criteria

Gabe Onah, the Chairman of the Carnival Commission, described carnival Calabar as “theatre on the streets”, noting “throughout history Africans have been known as a people, who take every celebration to the streets. You recall, is it weddings, naming ceremonies, birthdays, funerals just name it. If we do not block the streets or roads, our celebrations have not started. So, this is doing what we know how to do best – Street Party”.

Onah explained that the revellers in each of the bands would interpret the theme “Humanity” using all the elements of theatre on display.

“All the elements of theatre are in play. So, the characteristics of a dramatic experience like what has been on display at the adjudication points, is what the judges are looking out for. That is why the judges are mostly academic from the Theatre Arts, History, Archaeology and other related fields and to get it right, there must be research. That is also why each band has thematic presentation to show,” stated Gabe.

According to him, the elements of theatre are “dance, drama, costume, make up, pantomime, carnival spirit and best band of the move. These are the criteria used by the judges to award marks. Remember the prize at stake is 10 million cash as well as other prizes for winners in other category”. 

Carnival Partners

About other non-competing bands on the move, the Chairman stated that those were floated by sponsors of the event and partners such as the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC; the pioneer private radio station in Calabar – HitFM, and NAF Rhythm, an Italian based first time participating band as well as Ayade CoCoa.

Onah, who expressed satisfaction with the turnout for the carnival, stated “we have Brazil, Belize, Bangladesh, Vietnam, Indonesia, Ghana, Kenya, Senegal, and we also have France, Chile, Turkey. You cannot ask for more. We are truly a melting point for love”.

“At the flag off of the carnival, we had the ambassadors for Rwanda, Bangladesh, Turkey, and Belize. These are people, who are here to give impetus and to say that truly they believe in what we are doing,” he noted.

He further described the entire event as a “a big time watershed. We have proved critics wrong again. We have proved that we can do it. The people of Cross River State, the people of Nigeria have proved that we can do it again for ourselves; it’s been fun all the way”. 

The carnival, which started at about a few minutes past two o’clock on Saturday December 28 ended in the wee hours of Sunday morning after revellers performed at five adjudication points and five non-adjudication areas.


Hauwa Abu



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