Chairman of Cross River State Carnival Commission, Mr Gabe Onah has described the highly anticipated Calabar cultural festival as a tool to structurally reposition Cross River State culturally and economically.
Mr Onah who disclosed this in a telephone chat with Legit.ng regional reporter, Subair Mohammed added that Calabar festival is not just a moving theatre, according to him, it also educates indigenes and addresses challenges that directly affect the State.
He said, “Carnival Calabar is very different from other carnivals. It played to a yearly theme which aims at structurally repositioning the State’s sociocultural and socioeconomic outlook.”
Chronicling various themes the festival have featured and which have impacted on the lives of the citizenry, he said, “In 2015 and 2016 the festival created awareness and enlightenment on the impact of global environmental issue, the Climate Change which was the theme of the years. Also in 2017, it was themed “Migration”, another global menace to humanity in the 21st century; and for the 2018 road mass, it was “Africanism”, where we researched on the peculiar issues affecting Africans, and providing solutions to it from African perspective.”
According to Onah, the 2019 festival will focus on the need to promote human compassion and tolerance among people of different tribes.
He said, “For this year, His Excellency Governor of Cross River State, Prof. Ben Ayade has unveiled “humanity” as the subject of this year’s annual December international fun festival.
Individually, carnival bands will creatively interpret “Humanity” as the guiding philosophy for the festival. It depicts the human compassionate spirit of good over evil and the need for tolerance among the people of the world-Muslims, Christians, the rich, the poor, the strong and the weak using all the elements of theatre.”
Speaking on the impacts of the festival on the lives of indigenes, Onah said, “Carnival Calabar has over the years impacted positively on the entertainment industry and lives of the citizenry. New talents are discovered and are given opportunities to express themselves on the world stage.
The over 600,000 onsite spectators and over 200,000 inbound visitors to the state during the Calabar festival affect the disposable income of the people of the state. The multiplier effect of visitors’ spending on accommodation, memorabilia, food and beverage, transportation, communication and so on has tremendously impacted on the lives and income of the people of Cross River State.”
On its impact on the economy, Mr Onah said “The impact of Carnival Calabar on the local economy is enormous. The hospitality industry experiences tremendous growth giving birth to new hotels every year which translates into increased income through bed-space sales, meals, transportation, vending of all sorts and in turn increased the revenue of the government.
There are at the least one thousand ad-hoc staff made of marshals, crowd control, ushers, tour guides directly hired by the carnival commission. The festival village runs for 31 days, the locals run eateries and other businesses and the sole objective of using the sale of this Tourism experience to activate the engagement of the entire value chain is achieved.”
“The Governor, Sen. Prof. Ben Ayade collaborating in this year’s carnival to show the whole world the human disposition of the true African spirit. This and many other surprises await the thousands of tourists who have already booked their flights to destination Cross River for this year’s Carnival of Humanity.”