It was huge. It was colourful. It was glamorous. Indeed, for the indigenes and tourists alike, the Carnival in Rivers State (CARNIRIV) that rocked the Garden City of Port Harcourt for four days last week, could be described as a mega carnival of fun and entertainment.

The carnival, which ran from Monday, December 14 through Sunday, December 20, 2009, had gone on a peaceful note. In spite of the fear nurtured by most people, especially tourists that anything could happen in the state, the whole event went smoothly, without recording an ugly incident. This had prompted the Commissioner of Culture and Tourism, Hon. Marcus Nle-Ejii to round off the carnival with a thanksgiving service at St. Jude Anglican Church, GRA, Port Harcourt on Sunday.

The CARNIRIV had kicked off with a cultural exhibition that paraded all the 23 local governments including Abua/Odual, Eleme, Okrika, Ikwere, Obio-Akpor and Andoni among others. For four days, they all came out with their best display of culture and aesthetic. The event, which held at the specially constructed CARNIRIV Village, where Governor Rotimi Amaechi welcomed all the participants and stakeholders, had in attendance important dignitaries, tourists and members of the business community. Here, all sponsors, supporters, local governments, corporate organisations and government agencies had their floats, booths and tents to showcase their products and services.

“We are happy with this innovation of African Cultural Exhibition Village, it has afforded our people and visitors from the across the world a first-hand assessment of our cultural values, norms, tradition and our beautiful ways of life. We welcome you all to the Garden City for this year’s CARNIRIV; it promises to be exciting and interesting,” the governor said while declaring the carnival open.

On Friday, Governor Amaechi, dressed in a Superman costume, led other state executive officials in a carnival float, and trailed by a huge crowd of indigenes and tourists, round the nook and crannies of the city. It was the great carnival in motion. The following day, a concert featuring international music star Beanie Man and top local acts like Tuface, MI, Wande Coal, P-Square, Duncan Mighty, Timaya, Daniel Wilson and J. Martins thrilled the audience at the Polo Club Ground in the city.

M.I had a great time dishing out the best from his current album. Duncan Mighty also took his turn and was able to communicate with the crowd being a home boy. While Wande Coal mesmerized the audience with his hit songs like Bumper to Bumper and You Bad among others, it was the turn of the dancing group, Dance Na The Main Thing (DNMT), who thrilled the audience with their dramatic dancing steps and varieties that stood them out in the night.

Tu Face was a delight to watch as the African Queen singer led his live band to a spiritual level of musical rendition. However, before Bennie Man took the stage, his fore-runner, Troublesome, gave a little hint of what to be expected from his boss. Later, the Jamaican super star was at his best as a dance hall artiste, having his hands full when he invited 2face for a collabo on “Ufunnie Banga” remix. It was something else as the duo unleashed a free style and powerful delivery that could easily pass as the highlight of the show.

Timaya and his boys equally had a brief intervention before P-Square duo took the show to the wee hours of the day. The twins as usual displayed a rare vigour and energy that they are known for as they almost stole the show with their new hit E No Easy, a song that got the crowd singing and dancing. The concert came to an end around 4.05am to the admiration and delight of the teeming crowd.

Indeed, for four days, it was an avalanche of the very best of African cultural display from the 23 local government areas and other cultural groups from all parts of the state. It was indeed an assemblage of colour, beauty and tradition.
This year’s CARNIRIV was initiated by the Ministry of Culture and Tourism, Rivers State, sponsored by International Energy Insurance (IEI) Plc, Total E&P, Oil and Gas Freezone Authority, and with support from SPDC while Yibs Ensemble emerged the Event Consultant and ZMC, a leading agency based in Lagos, the marketing and communication consultant for the event.

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