Freedom band, the troop known for its vibrant yellow attire, has emerged winner of the 2019 Carnival Calabar, fifteen years since the festival started in Cross River State, south-south Nigeria.
Freedom band led by Captain Birisibe tied with Passion 4, the 10th time winner of the Carnival Calabar, in first position as the two bands scored 1,648 points each.
The two bands were also adjudged the overall bands of the year, while the award for the most creative band went to Passion 4, the title of the Most Improved Band of the year went to Freedom.
Gabe Onah, the Chairman of the Cross River State Carnival Commission, announced the scores shortly before the International carnival at the U. J. Esuene Sports Stadium began.
Onah stated that Senator Florence Ita-Giwa’s Seagull band came second overall, while Bayside Band led by Mrs. Onari Duke emerged third and Senator Gershom Bassey’s Masta Blasta was placed fourth.
He said, “there are five registered carnival bands. This year there was a tie. We had a tie some four years ago. Starting from the bottom, 4th position – Masta Blasta with 1,166 points; 3rd position – Bayside Band scoring 1,553 points; 2nd position – Seagull band got 1, 581 points; 1st position – Freedom Band and Passion 4”.
“The adjudicators and the international observers from Trinidad and Tobago, David Lopez and Patricia Henry, observed that the Most Creative and Authentic band remains Passion 4 and the Most Improved Band of the Year is Freedom Band. By the power conferred on the commission, I declare that the bands of the year 2019 are Freedom and Passion 4 bands,” declared Onah.
In other categories, Passion 4, known for its green colour adornment also won the awards for the Best Decorated Truck with 1,411 points and Costume Design, while Seagull got the star prize for the Best King with 1,178 points and Queen of the Carnival scoring 1,161 points.
Gabe Onah also read out the winners of the Cultural Parade, which held on Boxing Day where 22 States and the 18 local government areas in Cross River State participated.
According to Onah, “in the local government category, 3rd position went to Akpabuyo, 2nd position – Odukpani; first position – Calabar Municipality. For the States, third position – Enugu State, second position – Lagos State and first position went to Anambra State”.
He explained that for the first time in 15 years, the commission adopted a new carnival marking scheme as used in Trinidad and Tobago called “the High – low”.w
According to him, the adjudicators were trained in Trinidad and Tobago with sponsorship from the Cross River State Government and renewed the Carnival Calabar patent as a registered trade mark.
He stated, “four weeks ago, we received documentation listing Carnival Calabar in the carnival calendar of the world in the fourth position and the first in the whole of Africa.
“The international observers found Carnival Calabar worthy and four weeks ago after three years of trial, gave the go ahead”.
The chairman of the commission described the carnival as “God’s gift to Cross River and the State’s gift to the world”, noting that the bands were energized to excite spectators, which drives tourists to a destination.
Meanwhile, over 30 countries including the United States of America, Turkey, Egypt, Bangladesh, Senegal, Slovakia, Bangladesh and more participated in this year’s International Carnival.