Gabe Onah, Chairman of Calabar Carnival Commission, has described the annual Calabar festival as the number one tourism and entertainment hub in Africa.
Onah, who made this known in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on Monday in Calabar, said that the festival has become the largest street party in Africa.
He attributed this to the carnivals’ wide acceptance and participation from African and global countries.
He said that the carnival has promoted the unity and pride of Africa through the interpretation of various carnival themes over the years.
According to him, the carnival usually record over 50,000 revelers dancing and performing acrobatic displays along the streets of Calabar.
He added that the festival also has a dedicated day for International Carnival’ where the foreign artists and celebrities occupy the streets of Calabar.
“Calabar carnival is on course, there is a wide acceptability by the private sector, the stakeholders and the public service. We have been blessed with strong political will and leadership by the past governors since inception.
“It is this great leadership that has sustained this huge platform which becomes the true template to measure art festival in Africa because the carnival has become Africa number one tourism hub.
“Further than unity, it brings pride; it brings about the preservation of our beliefs and culture. We still need huge federal government backing to drive our festival forward.
“The Minister of Information and Culture was here in 2017 to inspect mass camps; I believe that any moment from now, we are going to see the outcome of this visit which should be in terms of partnership and support.
“Calabar carnival is the pride of African heritage. It goes beyond the shores of Africa. If you look at the themes we have played over the years and the current 2018 theme which is Africanism, we try as much as possible to carry everybody along,” Onah said.
On the musical part, Onah told NAN that the festival has become the platform from which musical artists rate themselves, saying that such exposure is bringing the African Diaspora under one umbrella.
He said: “This year, we are introducing into the carnival the National Festival of Poetry, the Fusion of Music and Art and also introducing the diaspora experience through cuisines.
“The structures of the bands are run like a private sector concern because the success of the carnival has been largely felt through the competing and non-competing bands.
“The theme of the current year is to see how Africans can tell their own story from their own perspective; from pessimism to optimism and I believe there is so much for us to show and take pride in as African.
“We cannot continue to be the continent left to be plundered by those who believe there know more than us. We must find our way.
“History has told us that the black man was behind most of the inventions in the world.”