So I made it to Calabar for the third time for the end of the year Christmas carnival. I was hoping to get a road trip vibe going and also be more mobile during my time there, so we drove down. The lingering petrol scarcity was at the back
of my mind though. Most things in Nigeria aren’t straightforward but the show must go on. Thank God I didn’t have to leave my car in Calabar.
Looking at the carnival, I think most people would say the organisation of this carnival was terrible (the sky was turning black and there were still people waiting to join the carnival procession). While I can probably agree with the sentiment that the organisation was terrible, this one felt like the best one I’ve attended. I’m not saying it’s the best of the lot O; just saying I prefer my experience in this edition.
Since we had a car and places to see, we decided to leave our hotels early in the day to beat the roadblocks. We ended up leaving the car at the Millennium Park/Eleven-Eleven which is the starting point for the carnival and also a long walking distance from the Marina and some other spots we planned to visit.
The two other times I came for the carnival, I did what most people do, wait somewhere along the route of the procession and wait for the carnival to get to you. Not good especially if you want to take pictures. By the time the whole carnival train gets to you, it might be 8pm and you might have even left in annoyance. So if I attend again, I’ll just get my advanced screening at the starting point and worry about how to get back to the hotel later.
This year’s event had Migration as its theme. Some bands had teams depicting the transatlantic slave trade and also had symbols of African-American civil rights activists. Others had installations depicting the slave trade in Libya. Many will disagree with the slave trade being portrayed under a migration theme though, but that’s a long discourse for another day.
So should you attend? Yes, if you’ve never been to one before. Hard to say if you’ve attended one in the past. If you choose to attend, do note that they jack up prices to astronomical levels in December, so plan accordingly.