An international event showcasing the creative spirit of Nigerian people and their passion for festivity, the Abuja Carnival is one of Africa’s most popular and prestigious carnivals, and this year it shows the country’s resilience. Despite the bombings at the beginning of its 50 years of Independence Day celebrations in October, Nigeria is ready to move on. The 2010 Abuja Carnival is set to take place from November 27th through the 30th in Abuja, the capital of the West African nation. This year’s carnival promises to be a phenomenal event where you can experience non-stop entertainment and learn about the cultural diversity of Nigeria. All over, Nigerian people are excited and ready for the lively parades, festive street parties, decorative floats, enlightening cultural exhibitions, fascinating boat regatta, dazzling masquerade extravaganzas, exquisite food fairs and upbeat music concerts.
The Abuja Carnival is where you can not only learn about the culture and history of Nigeria, but also some of the rest of Africa as well. The 2010 Abuja Carnival management committee has named Chief Gabriel Igbinedion as Grand Patron of the international carnival. A Nigerian industrialist, philanthropist and Esama of Benin, Chief Igbinedion is honoured to serve, and said that of all the recognitions that he has received in his life so far he cherished his national award and the newest one, ‘Grand Patron’, of the carnival. He has promised to use his time and contacts to position the carnival as a world-class event.
This year’s carnival events are sure to please with a street parade where there will be thousands of colorful costumes, traditional dancing and beautifully decorated motorized floats. During the festivities, carnival-goers will be mesmerized by the Durbar show, a dazzling display of at least two hundred riders on their horses in colorful exquisite costumes showing their horsemanship and performing maneuvers that would captivate any audience.
But wait! There is much more to enjoy at the 2010 Abuja Carnival in addition to its street parade. Other festivities include the Masquerade Fiesta where about 774 local government representatives masquerade and showcase cultural displays from different state contingents to reflect the dynamism of the various ethnicities.
Another must-see carnival event is the boat regatta, a festivity on the water that offers a breathtaking display of the wealth, artistic splendor and the sea-faring heritage of the Riverine people in Nigeria. It provides an opportunity for all Riverine communities and dwellers to showcase their dexterity in boat building, decoration, paddling and master maneuvering.
The carnival’s nightlife will no doubt be very exciting with different types of entertainment. One nighttime event sure to draw the crowds is Cultural Night. This particular night is devoted to everything traditional with participating states showcasing unique ethnic orientations through culture-related performances. On Culture Night, carnival-goers will get to explore various arts and crafts exhibitions, and taste authentic Nigerian cuisine.
One special night will be set aside for performances by dance and theatre troupes from various countries and states. It is by invitation only, and you must be a VIP, state executive, sponsor or a part of the diplomatic community to attend. Everyone can attend the Musical Fiesta, an all-night event with past attendance records of over 100,000 people. The fiesta will be going on every night during the carnival with various reigning stars in Nigerian contemporary music performing.
The idea of the Abuja Carnival was proposed by former President Olusegun Obasanjo when he noticed how carnivals projected positive images and contributed immensely to a nation’s cultural growth. In 2004, the Presidential Council on Tourism (PCT) chaired by the then President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria initiated the process of an international carnival to mark the harmattan holiday, a seasonal time off from work. In 2005 of the next year, the first Abuja Carnival was celebrated in Nigeria. Originally set up to showcase the historical and cultural experiences of black people all over the world, the Abuja Carnival is anchored in the belief that there is an intrinsic link between culture and heritage programs and events to the foundation for the economic and technological growth of a nation.
Each year the Abuja Carnival committee goals include making the event an authentic Nigerian experience and a tourism product that showcases Nigeria as a safe, warm and hospitable tourism destination. The Honorable Minister of Tourism, Culture and National Orientation, Alhaji Abubakar Sadiq Mohammed said, “Abuja Carnival is the ministry’s flagship programme that serves as a platform to promote the rich heritage of Nigeria arts and culture. He has assured Nigerians that the committee would package the best carnival ever.
The four-day street carnival has the goal of being a haven for partnerships, sponsorship and investments, and a gateway into tapping the United Nations World Tourism Organization’s projected nine percent increase of tourists to Africa. The Abuja Carnival is planned in such a way as to be a ‘Celebration of Nigeria’s Unity in Diversity’ and an ‘Essential Tourism Product’.