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Tuesday, July 31, 2012

How the Calabar Carnival Can Attract Thousands of Foreign Tourists


How the Calabar Carnival Can Attract Thousands of Foreign Tourists

For instance at the stadium yesterday (during the carnival), a seat at the governor’s booth sold for N25, 000 and I think that we made more than N5 million ($35, 000). So there are products that we think we can generate revenue from and we are hoping to get to a stage where we can concession it whereby somebody comes in and says I want the governor’s booth and pay for it then market it. The same on the carnival routes, vendors on the routes are registered and pay for space.

~ Senator Liyel Imoke, Governor of Cross River State in Nigeria, in Destination, Page 42, Travel & Tourism Section of The Guardian of Nigeria on Saturday January 28, 2012.


Only God knows how much in billions of naira the administration of Senator Liyel Imoke of Cross River State has spent so far on the so called Calabar Carvival dubbed as “Africa’s Biggest Street Party” and as the governor confirmed the carnival is presently in debt, because the state government is not generating much revenue from the billion naira investment in a month long carnival of music, dance and drama with the glitz and razzmatazz of over 50,000 costumed revelers and 2 million spectators in the coastal city of Calabar staged to boost tourism.

But why is the Calabar Carnival not yet a bankable event and not yet the biggest international tourist attraction in Africa? Because the so called “Africa’s Biggest Street Party” is not Africa’s biggest tourist event. The Reed Dance of Swaziland attracts thousands of foreign tourists and makes more money than the budget, but the Calabar Carnival makes less money than the amount spent on it.

The Calabar Carnival is a good concept of immediate past Governor of the state, Donald Duke who started it in 2004, but it has been mismanaged by opportunistic jobbers and political contractors like the other equally mismanaged Tinapa with an ultra modern film studio that has attracted more lizards and spiders than filmmakers.

Personally I like carnivals, but only when they are not bacchanalian feasts of debauchery of orgies of sex by hordes of “dogs” in heat.
The most famous carnival is the Brazilian Carnival which originated in Rio de Janeiro in 1641 when the city's bourgeoisie imported the practice of holding balls and masquerade parties from Paris. It originally mimicked the European form of the festival, later absorbing and "creolizing" elements derived from Native American and African cultures. Carnival celebrations are believed to have roots in the pagan festival of Saturnalia.

The Calabar Carnival begins on every 1st of December and lasts till 31st , with almost copycats and replicas of the Brazilian carnival on parade.

Last December, the different bands Masta Blasta, Seagull, Freedom, Bayside and Passion 4 competed to interpret the theme of the Carnival, which was “Endless Possibilities”, but might as well also mean the endless financial liabilities of the jamboree with many useless events like the football competition and wasting money on foreign entertainers like Nelly, Kirk Franklin, Sean Kingston, Rick Ross, Akon and even the defunct American bands like Midnight Star, Sky, Cool and the Gang and others specially resurrected for the Calabar Carnival and get paid what they would never have earned playing in New York.

There are some niche events in the Calabar Carnival that will be enough to attract thousands of foreign tourists than the indigenes and make millions even in a week without stretching them unnecessarily for one month of monotonous activities repeated by the same bands every year. The Boat regatta, Christmas Village and live music concerts and Governor’s Masked Ball should be strictly for paying audiences.

You don’t need one month to do a great street carnival, except it is a conduit for sleaze and public graft and a colourful camouflage for an annual government racket.:)

The famous Rio de Janeiro's Carnival does not last more than a week and last year’s edition started on Saturday, February 18th and ended on Tuesday, February 21. In 2011, attracting over 4.9 million people, of which only 400,000 were foreigners.

The Calabar Carnival should just be reduced to a one week panorama of the tourist attractions of Cross River State and Nigeria and don’t waste tax payers money on the importation of American hip hop artistes, because they have little or no attraction for the foreign tourists who are more interested in seeing the awesome displays of our cultural heritage than gyrating or shay shying to American hip hop musicians they have already seen many times over at live concerts in America and Europe and on TV. Moreover, the Calabar Carnival should look more original and unique and not a Nigerian imitation of the Brazilian carnival. The only way you can make the Calabar Carnival an international tourist attraction is by offering something new and something original that will be a fantastic kaleidoscope of the rich culture of Cross River and Nigeria which foreign tourists cannot see outside Calabar.


~ By Ekenyerengozi Michael Chima
Publisher/Editor
Nigerians Report
Nigerian Times
CEO, International Digital Post Network Limited
Founder, Eko International Film Festival,
Founder/CEO, Screen Outdoor Open Air Cinema





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