Though some people felt the carnival could have been shifted to the next day if the organisers really wanted people to enjoy their church service, Carnival 2009 was not devoid of its characteristic pomp and ceremony. Despite the five competing bands - Freedom Band, Masta Blasta Band, Bayside Band, Seagull Band and Passion Four - and the non-competing bands taking off at Millennium Park after the scheduled 2pm, people; old, young and children, lined the streets well into the night along the 12-kilometre procession route.
The excitement was contagious as Nigerians and foreigners either followed the procession or waited for them on the well lit streets. If the streets were packed, the U.J.Esuene Stadium, the terminus of the long, merry train overflowed with people. The street party, indeed, was spectacular with some of the bands putting their ingenuity to the test. The Masta Blastaer for instance, brought a Durbar and the people could not contain their joy at the sight of the beautifully costumed horses and their riders.
Participants and winners
Apart from the five competing bands in their traditional colours; Freedom (yellow), Masta Blasta (orange), Bayside (blue), Seagull (red) and Passion Four (green) that were judged at four adjudication points on their ability to interprete the theme of the carnival, ‘Land of Our Birth: Our People, Our Heritage,' some sponsors and organisations also had floats.
They include FirstBank, Spring Bank, Cadbury, Amber Tinapa, Apache Aliens, Lagos Dolphins, International Association of Lions Clubs and Fire Service. Others were the Civil Defence, Immigration Service, Prisons, Oceanic Bank, Nigerian Navy, Nigerian Army, Christ Embassy and Rotary International.
Four times winner, Passion Four Band and Seagull Band eventually tied for the first position after the bands were judged on the basis of Best Decorated Float, Carnival Move, Makeup/Costumes, Best Interpretation of the Carnival Theme and Best Reflection of the Carnival Spirit.
Some prominent indigenes of the state, as usual, participated in the procession which was also witnessed by the governors of Bayelsa and Rivers States, Timipriye Silva and Rotimi Amaechi respectively. Children were not left out of the scheme as they had their own procession the previous day. Seagull Band emerged the Junior Carnival Band of the Year.
The people and government of Calabar, it appears, are not ready to soil the city's reputation as Africa's cleanest city. The Community Urban Development Authority, which has the task of cleaning the city had a float that was the last in the procession. Its staff painstakingly picked the litter left by the long train; it was difficult to believe that a large number of people had passed the carnival route some minutes after.
Two years after he left office, former governor of Cross River State, Donald Duke, is still a darling of the people. Shouts of ‘Fine Boy, we love you' trailed Duke and his wife, Onari, who led his band, Bayside, during the procession.
And the handsome former governor didn't disappoint. Apparently conscious of what the people wanted, Duke not only acknowledged the cheers and greetings, he obliged his crowd of admirers by dancing for them. He would continue dancing into the night even when his wife and members of the ban
d became fatigued.
The city rocked throughout the 32 days of this year's carnival and festival. Artists including Keri Hilson, P-Square, Terry G, Tuface Idibia, Mighty Duncan, Muma Gee and several others performed at the music nights.
The biggest night was ‘Calabar Rocks.' Former member of The Fugees, Wyclef Jean, headlined the night where Weird MC, Sound Sultan, Bigiano and some home acts performed. The night would be one to remember for long because of the rich musical entertainment it offered and the fun added to it by diminutive comedian, Julius Agwu.
*text culled from 234next.com
Eta Uso (Jnr) - (MCTS, A+)