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Calabar’s pre-climax with the Carnival Kings and Queens

It was a night of fun and dance as residents and guests in Calabar were treated to music and dance on Christmas day at the…

It was a night of fun and dance as residents and guests in Calabar were treated to music and dance on Christmas day at the U.J. Esuene Stadium.
The month-long Calabar Festival which began on the 1st of December pre-climaxed with the Carnival King and Queen competition.
The night kicked off with an unusual puppet performance like has never been witnessed in the state before. Gigantic sized male and female puppets ‘danced’ on stage as some audience members were invited to join them in a competition.
The momentum was increased as the Rwanda Ballet Dancers also gave guests a new thrill to folk music and dance.
Their exhilarating performance thrilled guests the East African way in costumes, well choreographed dance steps and musical instruments which all blended with melodious tunes that appealed to the very responsive crowd.
For guests like, Aisha Umar a Kaduna resident who was attending the festival for the first time, “It’s so nice to see that dancing with the upper part of the body is as beautiful as dancing with the lower body as we are accustomed to here in West Africa.”
Although the group performed for no less than twenty minutes, the audience cheered them on to continue as they left the stage.
This ushered in the business for the day, which was the contest between the kings and queens
The contest which was in two categories featured junior and senior kings from five carnival bands. They included Bayside Band, Freedom Band, Seagull Band, Masta Blasta Band and Passion 4 Band.
Each one tried to outdo themselves as they showed off beautifully and intricately designed costumes.
The regalias were built around themes and messages each of the five carnival bands had individually chosen as they were finished off in brightly coloured materials. They ranged from the culture and history of the Efik people, to the power of self-awareness, knowledge acquisition and the value of team work
Giving it some tonic was a 21st century appearance by the senior king of the Masta Blasta Band in his Iron Man costume and Robocop movement.
Wowing the audience some more was Seagull’s senior king and junior queen costumes. The brightly coloured fiery orange and black combinations of petals, coconut shells and eyelids which were carefully hidden and dramatically revealed at the right time, and showed a mastery of art and depth which went into its production.
Giving it some feminine touch was the gorgeously designed hibiscus flowers of the queen’s regalia which she carried about with the elegance befitting true royalty.
The audience in no time had decided who the winners were and had began voicing their speculations.
The evening came to an exciting end with a thrilling performance by the Trinidad and Tobago Steel Band. Bringing it home they began with popular Nigerian tunes like Iyanya’s ‘Kukere’ as the crowd went wild in admiration and surprise at how well they rendered the song instrumentally without losing the various levels and tempo. They went on to render tunes by Fela, D’banj and reggae legend, Bob Marley.
Present at the event was the state governor, Liyel Imoke, and his wife, Obioma as well the Minister of Tourism, Culture and National Orientation, Chief Edem Duke.
Visitors like Mary and her husband, Edward Osuohor from Benin City were completely impressed. “[This is] more than we expected and has given us reason to stay on for the rest of the festival,” they said.

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