Thursday, November 24, 2005

utterly surreal: Abuja Carnival

The carnival started this morning - floats representing each state of the Federation. At 9am in the morning, people in magnficent costumes, face paint etc were singing and dancing. All the sonic complexity of Nigeria was on display - beguiling Northern snake-charmer-esque flute music, the skittering rhythms of fuji etc.

Trouble is, the Ministry of Tourism and Culture has done the usual balls-up on advertising the event. So there was no one watching this morning as the dancers sweated their way along Shehu Shagari way. And no one seems to know what the programme is, or why there is a carnival in the first place (what are we celebrating?)

Some groups are anti-festival: a Northern muslim group who does not want "fetish" practices to be associated with Nigeria (as if hausa culture has no such). Meanwhile, the musicians union is boycotting the event because some anti-copyright govt person was sacked recently.

The Tourism minister defended the event (which has cost many hundreds of millions of naira) by saying that it is the centrepiece of Nigeria's tourist calendar. He boasted that "several families from America" are travelling over. Should we laugh or cry?

Its a real shame because the floats and costumes and music were quite something this morning, as cars whizzed by. The only spectators were okada drivers (pics to follow later)


Pilgrimage to Self 11:44 am  

Should I laugh at or cry for my Country? I love it and hate it at the same time.

Chxta 12:47 pm  

They swung by my office this morning... What a waste!

uknaija 7:07 pm  

You know why there was no local publicity? They were busy advertising on BBC World in order to entice foreign tourist with their dollars and pounds, not realizing as always that charity begins at home.....

TRAE 4:53 am  

i'm not suprised at all. i was in town some days to the festival and the only info i know that was available to the public was that a carnival was going to hold. no venue, carnival route or words of encouragement to get odinary people to participate. right then i knew it was going to be f*cked and just full of cultural troupes doing their thing. oh well i hope they've learnt their lessons. we await the day we can witness a Nigerian version of the notting hill carnival.

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