The 2012 Carnival Calabar was a beauty to behold. No wonder it is still enjoying generous mention in the media weeks after. Almost everyone who was in Calabar for the event, including tourism practitioners and writers, was left drooling for more. Curiously, while the traditional mass media was singing the praise of the carnival, some persons with the obvious intention of de-marketing it, took to the social media, splashing pictures of near naked revelers, supposedly taken at the Carnival Calabar.
A close scrutiny of the pictures however, indicates that they were not taken at the Carnival Calabar. The pictures were taken at the Sao Paolo Carnival in Brazil. For instance, the pictures on the social media showed that the carnival took place on streets with cobbled stones. There is no road in Calabar that is made of cobbled stones.
And the colour of the costumes was glaringly different from what the Brazilians wore in Calabar.
Despite these obvious inconsistencies, Omolola Itayemi centered her piece in last Saturday’s edition of Thisday on the supposed nude dressing of the Brazilian and Trinidad and Tobago bands at the Carnival Calabar. And for her, bringing the two bands to town means that the Carnival Calabar was slowly losing the plot. Amazingly, these are the views of someone who, in her own words, did not watch the event live this year. And I guess that is why her opinion article was fraught with half-truths and outright mis-representations in some instances.
First, the Trinidad and Tobago band, which like the Brazilians, she claimed put on “far from decent attires” was just a steel band made of only men, who were fully clad in trousers and shirts.
So, where did the writer see ladies in the band, who “jiggled raw flesh?” The Trinidad and Tobago steel band played from a truck on carnival day and there was no issue of dancing on the streets in G strings. Beside the bands from Brazil and Trinidad and Tobago, the 2012 Carnival Calabar witnessed the participation of troupes from some African countries including Ghana. Korea Republic sent the K-Pop dance troupe wit it’s cultural attaché. The Chinese contingent with their dragon dance could not make it to the event after issues bordering on logistics made it impossible for it’s troupe to be in Calabar. For the Carnival. Similar reasons hampered the participation of the Chinese and their dragon dance at the event. So contrary to the writer’s opinion, the Brazilians were not invited by the organisers to “re-invent” the Carnival.
Rather, the growing reputation of the Carnival Calabar has been the pull, the reason why several bands, even from outside Nigeria want to be in Calabar every December 27.
Tellingly, about 19 states in the country attended this year’s Cultural Festival, a prelude to the Carnival a day earlier. The Brazilian band that performed at the Carnival Calabar had a few outings in Lagos State before making appearance in Calabar. Indeed, pictures of those events in Lagos have been published by several national dailies. In one of the pictures, the Brazilian ladies who were in their costumes shared the stage with our inimitable Nobel Laureate, Professor Wole Soyinka. So the question: what makes it right for the band to perform in Lagos and yet so wrong when it performs in Calabar?
It is a trite in journalism that while facts are sacred, opinions are free. It is therefore, wrong when opinions are masqueraded as the truth. The Guardian, the flagship of Nigerian media had a full-length photograph of a member of the Brazilian band on Carnival day two days after the event. Will it had published it if it was “soft porn” as the writer claimed? Again, what should we make of the two pictures the writer herself splashed on her article showing the Brazilians in their G-Strings? Should we assume that there is now restriction on the ages of those who read her articles, or it is a case of a preacher not practicing what she preaches?
Almost all major TV stations ran the carnival live and it has been repeated over other networks and every major newspaper has published pictures from the carnival. For those who did not attend the carnival to criticize what they did not see is unfair.
•Christian Ita is a member of Festival Committee