Dancers at the 2019 Calabar Carnival on Thursday 26th December.

By John Adie

CROSS RIVER – Calabar residents, including Governor Ben Ayade, were Thursday 26th December, held spellbound with scintillating cultural dance steps during the annual cultural carnival held in the city.

Cultural troupes from 22 states participated in the carnival.

The cultural carnival is a component of the yearly tourism fiesta, Calabar Carnival, organise by Cross River state government.

Held at the popular Rabana roundabout, the participating cultural troupes had earlier taken off from the millennium park near the A.J Esuene stadium amidst pomp, before converging at the venue.

Ecstatic and cheering residents filled the streets as the dancing troupes entertained them.

The electrifying performances of the the troupes got the governor to get up from his seat several times to cheer the dancers.

The crowd went into thunderous frenzy when Anambra state contingent with its Atilogu dancers dazzled them with mesmerising acrobatic displays.

Enamoured with their electrifying performance, the obviously delighted governor ordered the Anambra troupes back to the stage for a fresh display after they had exhausted their allotted time.

The local government areas in Cross River also showcased their rich cultural dancing skills.

The colourful event attracted prominent dignitaries, including Bangladeshi High Commissioner to Nigeria, His Excellency, Ambassador Shameen Ahsan.

Speaking at the flag off of the event, Mr Gabe Onah, Chairman of Calabar Carnival Commission, said the event was designed to promote Nigeria’s tourism and cultural potentials.

Onah said that the theme of the 2019 carnival “Humanity” was carefully chosen to show kindness and love.

“Today we are here to tell the story of one Nigeria and culture as the platform of our tourism. That truly culture is the palm oil with which our tourism is eating.

“This year, we are playing humanity and we have 22 states present out of the 26 that were expected.

“We have been on the road in the last 24 days with the flag off of the city walk and the festival village. We have had over 10,000 fun seekers daily.”

“Also, we have 15 local government areas in the state here present with their different cultural costumes to hit the streets”, he said.

He added that the street dance for the cultural carnival is 6 kilometres with 3 adjudication points.

Earlier, while flagging off the event, Deputy Governor of the state, Prof. Ivara Esu, welcomed participants and tourists into the city of Calabar for the festival.

Esu said that the cultural Carnival will showcase the rich heritage of the people of Nigeria in different forms.

He stressed that it was in the importance of the Carnival theme “Humanity” that Gov. Ben Ayade created the Ministry of Humanity and Social Welfare.

Some of the states that participated in the cultural Carnival include Kebbi, Anambra, Akwa Ibom, Benue, Ebonyi, Lagos, Gombe, Imo, Kaduna, Ebonyi, among others.