From beautiful clean and decorated streets; colourful ladies with assorted designs and costumes; elegant dance steps, and lovely children on parade, the curtains for Calabar Carnival were eventually drawn at the end of 32 days of festivities.
The media, radio, television and the print, were all over the Canaan City recording the events throughout the duration of carnivals. Days after the event, analysis of media coverage of the event still goes on.
There are arguments, for instance, that the excitement and frenzy that went with the climax of the event on the 26, for the Children Carnival, and its Adult version of 27, has not been properly reflected in the media.
For Kufre Ekanem, Corporate Affairs Manager of Cadbury’s Nigeria Limited, the spectacle that was the Calabar Carnival was not seen in the media at all. According to him, it was mere sketchy reports and scanty photographs of the event that have appeared in the media.
“I have not seen anything of the spectacle we witnessed at Calabar. It is as if nothing happened, going by what we have seen in the media. There is not yet a reflection in the media, as far as I am concerned.”
His company, Cadbury, solely sponsored the children’s carnival of December 26.
He was not alone, other tourism experts also made the same observation. They also observe lapses in the pre-carnival build-up, arguing that sensitisation was very poor.
But media experts argued that the promoters of the carnival may have mismanaged the opportunity they would have made of the media in celebrating the exercise. They argued that journalists may not have been properly mobilized for the coverage either by their respective outfits or the organizers of the carnival. They also argued that private sponsors of some of the events may have relied solely on the management of the carnival to handle the arrangement of media coverage of the event, without making their own private arrangement.
Critics, however, insist that whatever it takes, the Calabar Carnival must be seen as a national event and given publicity as such, especially this time that the nation’s image is at stake. They insist if the country must move away from its mono-economy status, which it currently has with oil, it must begin to embrace tourism, and do all that is necessary to develop it.
They claim that tourism has the potential to outstrip oil as the country’s revenue earner, and as such should be made to take its pride of place in the country, by being celebrated in the media. Speaking specifically of the Calabar Carnival, they insist that it has enough class and colour to add glamour to any media outfit and make it lucrative.
It is on record that the vision of the founder, former Governor of Cross River State, Donald Duke was to make the state a “hub of tourism and hospitality in the country, the west African sub-region, and in Africa as a whole.” This is the reason why critics hold the opinion that the press coverage ought to be heavily national.
However, Patrick Ugbe, Chief Press Secretary (CPS), who doubles as Special Assistant to the governor on the carnival disagreed that the media coverage was not adequate. He stated that for the first time, Cable News Network (CNN) covered the month-long celebration without invitation, which was the result of the amount of work put in. He also said that Channel O network and HITV were equally on ground for the event, while Nigerian Television Authority (NTA) and Africa Independent Television (AIT) beamed it live. He said that a good proof that their pre-carnival media preparations were focused was because all hotels in the city were fully booked before the event. He said that the carnival was not designed for tourism alone. According to him, it consisted of the three elements – tourism, travels, and arts and culture.
The carnival started in 2004, and the incumbent Governor Liyel Imoke, who took over in 2007, has continued to hold it with added varieties and momentum