By Gift Olivia Samuel, The Sight News
CALABAR: It was a funfair on Sunday when the Cross River State government received the Bangladeshi High Commissioner, Md. Shameem Ahsan and the Belize Consul General, Amb. Ifeanyi Ifedi, to flag off the first dry run of the Carnival Calabar 2019.
The State Governor, Prof. Ben Ayade, who was represented by the Deputy Governor,Prof. Ivara Esu while welcoming the ambassadors, stated that the theme of the 2019 Carnival Calabar, “Humanity”, is aimed to draw the attention of the world to being humane and living in peace with each other.
He pointed out that a human being is a human being and must be treated as such, regardless of status in life, religion, tribe or group, adding that the wars around the world must end.
“We are trying to send the message out that wars, terrorism, boko haram people should stop. There is no need for the fighting, because you also suffer as you fight. Let there be peace so that we can go about our lives,” he said.
He further noted that this year’s carnival is the 15th and every year, the carnival is becoming bigger, better and acceptable all around the world, and thanked the band leaders for always doing their best to give full interpretation to the ideas behind the various themes of the carnival.
For his part, Amb. Ifeanyi Ifedi noted that the international community does not just come to Carnival Calabar to dance, but to experience Nigeria’s culture and take the message back to their home country.
He remarked that this year’s Carnival tells a different story. “It tells the relationship between people and not just going to dance, but interfacing and relating with people, taking them as human beings,” he said. “If you understand other people’s culture and way of life, you will come to appreciate yourself and humanity”.
He promised that Belize will never stop coming to the Carnival Calabar.
Also speaking, the Bangladeshi High Commissioner, Md. Shameem Ahsan, expressed delight to be in Calabar, stating that the theme ‘humanity’ is something which should prevail amongst people and act as a rallying factor.
In his words, “I am delighted to be at the beautiful city, Calabar, I had a dream to be here and my dream has been fulfilled. People are so welcoming, warm and friendly and I have absolutely no doubt that your warmth and beauty of the city, makes it most competent city to host this kind of carnival which has an appeal internationally.
“I appreciate the theme, “Humanity”, because at the end of the day, irrespective of our race, colour, creed, nationality and territorial identity, we are human beings”.
He expressed the hope that Bangladesh will be attending the carnival in December for the first time, adding that the platform is very important and provides an opportunity to showcase cultural diversity not only of Nigeria’s beauty, but as a vehicle for other countries and communities to showcase their culture and heritage.
“This is important at a time where we are witnessing great intolerance and violence. I hope that the upcoming carnival will be a great success as it had been in previous years. Humanity is a driving force to push our agenda forward,” he remarked.
Earlier, the Chairman, Cross River State Carnival Commission, Mr. Gabe Onah, noted that for the first time, three Asian countries, Bangladesh, Vietnam and Dubai will be present at the festival village come December.
“Today marks another cycle in the annals of the history of carnival Calabar. We have present, two embassies partnering with us on the business side. We are working behind the scene and the business behind carnival Calabar.
“As we continue to improve to create livelihood for our children and unborn generation, we believe that by the time these embassies continue to showcase and partner with us, they are taking us to the world”, he ended.
Several bands showcased at the dry run, displaying their beautiful attires and dance steps, which held the guest spellbound. This dry run is the first in the series of three, leading up to the main carnival in December.