The Calabar Carnival also known as Carnival Calabar has been a game changer for the economy of Cross River state and its people since its inception in 2004, when the then governor of the state, Donald Duke, had a vision of making the state the hub for tourism and hospitality in Nigerian and in Africa.
Calabar has become the pride of Nigeria as far as tourism, carnivals and hospitality are concerned. Calabar Carnival is a unique display of African heritage, showcased through music, dance, drama and visual creativity, which is reflected in the design of floats, costumes and make up. Since inception, this festival has grown tremendously in popularity and scope.
It is not uncommon to now have families choosing Calabar as their tourism destination for their annual Christmas break which has made the carnival to grow in leaps and bounds.
The 2016 edition makes it the 12th anniversary with more bands being inculcated into the event. So far, there are 5 competitive and 7 non-competitive bands to participate in this year’s edition which is being tagged ‘Green Carnival’, a theme similar to that of last years’. As Cross River State being the greener state in Nigeria, Green Carnival signifies the effort the state is using to keep it large forest to help reduce global warming.
Below are the participating Carnival Bands, their origins and what they signify.
1. Bayside Band:
Bayside Band is one of the five Carnival Bands registered in the annual Christmas Festival of Cross River State of Nigeria. Membership in the Band is open to all Nigerians and foreigners. The Band is easily identified by its characteristic and distinctive aqua marine colour.
Bayside Band is a corporate body with charity and sustenance of carnival parade as its objectives. Its corporate structure comprises a 7-member Advisory Board and an administrative office headed by a Program Manager. The control and management of the Band is vested in the Advisory Board which meets quarterly to consider all transactions relating to the band. Funding of the Band is derived from membership contributions, gains of year round entertainment activities which includes but are not limited to theatre shows and orchestra.
Leader: H. E. Donald Duke (Former Governor)
Band Color: Blue
Contact Person: Austine Cohbam
Phone Number: 08037264860
2. Seagull Band:
Seagull band is one of the Carnival Bands registered in 2005 for the Cross River State annual Christmas festival. It is the most stylish and co-ordinated body with the main objective of promoting and sustaining the Tourism and Hospitality industry and at large, to enhance the status of the under privilege through charity. The band display the African Culture through aesthetics, talents and innovation, paraded annually during the Carnival.
Seagull Band is identified by its eye catching distinctive colour – red and maintains defined hierarchical structure it is the band that recognises and celebrates our own Nigerians and other artistes, movie starts and beauty queens. The band is under the dynamic and charismatic leadership of the vibrant distinguish Sen. (Princess) Florence Ita-Giwa (OON) who is ably assisted by Mrs. Affiong Effiom (Fulbright School) Lecturer in Theatre and Media Studies, University of Calabar, Nigeria.
3. Freedom Band:
Freedom band which is identified with the colour Yellow; was founded by Capt. Henry Brisibe and Mr. Larry Esin in 2005. Since its establishment, the band has consistently been among the best three in all previous editions of the Carnival Calabar event. His Excellency, Barr. Efiok Cobham, the Former Deputy Governor of Cross River State, is presently the grand patron of the band.
4. Masta Blasta Band:
The Masta Blasta Band also known as “The Orange Family“, is the largest & most entertaining of the 5 principal bands of the annual Carnival Calabar.
The Masta Blasta Band was established in December 2005. Also known as the “Orange Family”, the band has a membership base of over 10, 000 members from all over the world. They are the largest and most entertaining of all the 5 competing bands on parade during the annual Carnival Calabar (the largest street party in Africa).
The band has evolved over the years to become a brand name of choice and reference point, through the charismatic leadership of the band leader in the person of Chief Senator Gershom Bassey, Senator representing Cross River State Southern district. The Masta Blasta Band is the only band that accommodates and caters for the “belonging” need of all segments of the society. Their all-inclusive approach to the Carnival Calabar encourages an enviable synergy between family, friends and embraces the participation of both local and international visitors to the joys of taking part in an international carnival parade.
The Orange Family is currently the overall champions of the 2012, 2013, and 2014 Carnival Calabar. They are on record, as the only band that has won the most prices in all categories of the competition within a single year, in the entire history of the Calabar Carnival.
5. Passion 4
Passion 4 is the most successful band in Carnival Calabar, having been seven edition Champions and two editions first runners up in the twelve years of the existence of the competition aspect of the carnival. Passion 4 has been declared as Africa’s most outstanding band by all its adjudicators as the band continues to grow in creativity, organization and style in the Africa’s biggest street party.
Passion 4 whose former leader and founder’, Mr. Chris Agibe who also served as the former Executive Secretary of the Cross River State Carnival Commission has new band leader called Barr. Attah Ochinike, the Attorney general and and former Commissioner for Justice of Cross River State.
Passion 4 which is also the green band is the only band that creates a level playing field for children and adults to have fun. The band is every sponsor’s ideal platform for partnership and the mileage we offer is next to none.
The non-competitive bands most of which were introduced this year, include:
1. Wise Up Band:
The Wise Up Band was created in 2016 on the verge to take the HIV/AIDS campaign to the street and as to reduce the rate of catastrophic disease by 2030, a date range set by the United Nations and World Health Organisation.
The Band has top sponsors who includes; United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) and Meditrix Development Foundation (MDF), and other MDAs including the Office of the Wife of the Governor of Cross River State, Education for Vaccine (Eva), Excellence Community Education Welfare Scheme (ECEWS), State Agency for Control of AIDS (SACA), Cross River State Ministry of Health, Cross River State Primary Health Care Development Agency, UNICEF, fhi360, LOPIN 3, Medical Women Association of Nigeria (MWAN) and many others.
2. Hit FM Band
Hit FM band is a newly integrated band and with what they have in stock, they may be one of the most curative bands in the nearest future. Known for its Entertainment and Music, Hit FM Band is owned by Hit 95.9 FM Calabar and is among the registered bands in 2016.
3. CNS Band
CNS band is of the Nigerian Navy and is the first military/force band to participate in the Carnival Calabar since the event creation in 2004. The band is incorporated to show the love the service has for the development of tourism in Nigeria. CNS band was created in 2016.
4. Governor’s Band
The Governor’s band was created in 2015 and has it leader as Senator Professor Ben Ayade, Executive Governor of Cross River State. Members of the band consist of the Governor, his Wife, the Legislative Council all dignitaries of the Cross River State Government.
Calabar Reporters is yet to get the names and details of the remaining three bands, but we’ll keep you updated as soon as possible. Thanks.