CALABAR CARNIVAL AND THE PROMOTION OF INDIGENOUS CULTURE IN CROSS RIVER FROM 1999-2013
1.0 Background of the Study
In a bid to develop cultural tourism in Nigeria, a number of states of the Federation have recently developed carnivals in which they showcase aspects of Nigerian and popular cultures in street performances. Cross River State, Rivers State, Lagos State, and the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja are at the forefront of this initiative. Carnival Calabar in Cross River State is probably more popular than the rest, judging from the organization, publicity, patronage, utilitarian thrust and artistic profile of the carnival. In terms of organization, the carnival held every 26th and 27th December, it is run by a commission made up of technically competent members who are either drawn from the performing and visual art industry/academia or are connoisseurs of the arts1. The commission also collaborates with and draws technical manpower from the well-established carnivals of Trinidad and Tobago and Rio in Brazil. As part of technical manpower development for Carnival Calabar, workshops and series of interactive sessions have been held over the years for creative personnel involved in costume production, float construction, headgear production and other technical activities. In 2012, a detachment of a band from Brazil participated in Carnival Calabar probably to strengthen the technical partnership, while also providing a different variety of cultural performance. Moreover, varieties of promotional jingles are shown in numerous national and international media networks prior to the carnival. The ripple effects on the indigenous culture are remarkable, particularly in cultural dances, arts, local craft and musical performances3. The thrust of the carnival appears to be utilitarian to a large extent, and this feature is unique. This is exemplified in the fact that every year, the carnival theme addresses a particular development issue within society. The fact is that Carnival Calabar has been developed to become a medium through which societal shortcomings can be addressed.
Carnival is define as a public celebration or parade combining some elements of a circus, masks and public street party. Carnival, creates room for organization and expression of thoughts towards improving the lots of the society. Carnival Calabar shares the burden as a theatrical form to find links and connections to all committed to the power of theatre in making a difference in the human life span. The carnival is in the mould of applied theatre, about which creates a practice that seeks to debate vital issues and see those concerns transformed into new stories, to provide people with a means to work their way through difficult periods. The acclaim of the carnival also arises from the nature and quality of artistic display or performance. The carnival is an assemblage of visual and performing arts displayed as costumes, make-up, dance, choreography, props, carnival float on wheels, special effects and sound production. Many of the presentations are products of complex creations usually put together by groups of artistic and technical personnel with the aim of depicting indigenous culture. Therefore, this study will examine Carnival Calabar and the promotion of indigenous culture in Cross River State from 1999 to 2013. The study systematically lays out the general themes of the carnival through the period of study (1999–2013), and the band’s interpretation using the float as an index throughout the years under review. The float is so chosen because it is the most dominant singular visual art form in the carnival train and can be described as ambulatory scenery that embodies the theme of the production in aesthetic and functional units that depict indigenous culture.
1.1 Statement of Research Problem
The Cross River State government has mapped out some strategies to conceptualize and implement an integrated tourism master plan that will give a unique tourism flavor to visitors and residents of the state. The unique festivals and recreational facilities that abound in the state have not been fully developed to international standards and adequately utilized in order to enable them showcase the rich tourism potentials of the area. This under development as in the case of festivals and recreational facilities could be traced to inability of both the government and private sector to invest sufficiently in these tourism sub-sectors. This could also be linked with inadequate information on the tourism potentials that are inherent in the development of festivals and recreational facilities. To a large extent, little is known about the vote of this festivals and investment in recreational facilities in the development of tourism. This study therefore examines the influence of Carnival Calabar on the development of indigenous culture of Cross River state.
1.2 Objectives of the Study
This research evaluates carnival Calabar and the development of indigenous culture in Cross River State. Secondly, the study systematically lays out the general themes of the carnival through the period of study (1999–2013), and the band’s interpretation using the float as an index throughout the years under review. Thirdly, to examine the effect of Carnival Calabar, on organization and expression of thoughts towards improving the lots of the society. Finally to provide a base for further research adding to existing literature as well.
1.3 Scope of Study
The scope of the study is narrowed down to Cross River State. Cross River State is located in the southern part of Nigeria, It has 18 local Government Areas richly endowed with wonderful indigenous culture.
1.4 Significance of the Study
This study will be relevant to government, organizations, communities and private individuals who are event managers. The findings of this study will enable government to make policies that will enhance the development of the carnival as well as create enabling environment for the carnival to thrive. The study will also be of importance to organizations to invest and market their products during the period of carnival. It will also help communities to showcase their cultural heritage as well as develop them. Individual will also have opportunity to display their talents and other theatrical abilities during the carnival float.
1.5 Research Methodology
The research work employs a library based methodology as emphases will be laid on primary sources to include; Oral interviews, reports, articles, unpublished works etc. The Secondary data will be obtain from materials such as Newspapers, Internet resources, seminar papers, Textbooks. These will in no doubt give a holistic approach to achieving the objectives of the study.
The study is divided into five (5) chapters, chapter one the chapter one is about the introduction of the work that is background of the study, aims and objectives of study, scope of the study, research methodology, literature review, chapterization. Chapter two gives a detail account of the establishment of Calabar Carnival, chapter three focuses on Carnival Calabar and socio-economic development, while chapter four discuses the impact of Carnival Calabar on indigenous culture and Chapter five will be conclusion, recommendation and bibliography.
1.7 Literature Review
In recent times Festivals and events have been view by various scholars as having a range host destinations, and they in most cases are divided into economic, socio-cultural, environmental and political impacts (Baugh, C., 2005). Many researches on event has it main focus on assessing the economic impacts of events with less empirical research on socio-cultural impacts. Even less attention has been paid to environmental impacts of events. It has been observed that many scholars have placed more emphases on the economic impacts partly because of the need of event organizers and governments to meet budget goals and justify expenditure, and partly because such impacts are most easily assessed. (Agnes, K.,2004)
Recently, it has been recognized that the economic aspect alone is insufficient, and awareness of the need to measure also the intangible socio-cultural impacts has been increasing in recent years ( Taylor P., 2005).The locals have most often been the interest group that is taken into accounts. Today socio-cultural impacts of festivals are very difficult to measure and as a result, some frameworks and scales have been developed to effectively evaluate their impact on the people and the environment (Thompson, J. 2001).
Much work has been done in an attempt to develop standardized measures for economic and non-economic impacts of carnival events. The lack of standardized approach has limited the comparability between events evaluation across economic, environmental and socio-cultural criteria. Equal emphasis must also be placed on evaluating both event. (Brockett,O and Ball. R.,2004). Recently, an attempt towards a holistic approach in impact evaluation has emerged, and comprehensive work has been done to weave together all the different components of event evaluation into a single framework so that overall assessment can be made (Olapade, W. 2011). An evidence of this holistic approach is tripple bottom line borrowed accounting and finance, and it brings together the social, economic and environmental aspects of events into one framework (Taylor, P., 2006).However, many researchers have been conducted in a global perspective but none has highlighted the cultural impact of these two leading carnival events with specific reference to Cross River State which is the gap in literature that this work wish to bridge.
Carnival and culture have a whole lot in common. Just like carnival is an integral aspect of human life, culture too is the totality of human life and culture is seen in the eyes of carnival. Carnival is a product of culture and one cannot do without the other. The centrality of carnival to cultural sustenance of Trinidad and Tobago has been stressed in the various Carnivals, Calabar pre-event publications. However, these publications have opened a new window on carnival, highlighting carnival as a space in which history as memory and national heritage are continually being made and remade. This explains why most countries that organize carnival do it in a way that it can teach young people about their roots and culture; and one of the best ways to teach young ones, is through the performing arts, as it provides the avenue for young people not only to see physically socio/cultural features of their society, but it offers them the privilege to practically experience the working of their culture.
In the carnival and event brochure 2010, in a bid to make carnival a cultural event, the former Governor of Cross River State, Donald Duke has ensured that communities work together to develop stronger friendship and greater love for their respective cultures and the other cultures of the world. (Carnival, Calabar preview 2010, 35), declares that carnival is an art, and as an art, it offers as all dynamic arts, the tool as self expression and exploration which helps us go out in search for our roots which is our cultural heritage, and this ultimately, helps us celebrate what make us different from the rest of the peoples of the world. Carnival like culture creates a sense of value and belief in individual or the culture of a community. It helps the people to appreciate what they have as a people, it enables visitors to interact with the host community and helps the people enjoy and meet with others. Carnival provides both the host community and visitors alike with a unique vibrant and valuable culture.
1.8 Theoretical Framework
The Calabar Carnival is a tourism and a recreation project. Demand as well as supply of recreational and tourism facilities is directly related to higher living standards, higher income, greater education, improvement in transportation facilities, political stability longer vacations, etc. These issues have been dealt with by many urban and regional planners. In general, recreation and tourism are viewed as service industries (Eglash, R., 2005). What this means is that not so much of economic benefits should be expected from it as it is a bag of mixed blessings.
Two theories which have captured the place of tourism in the development of third world economies are the functional approach and the political economy approach (Lea, 1995). The functional theory according to Martins (2011) and as amplified by Packer, W. O., et al (2003) is an analytical approach to the complex issues of tourism. This theory sees tourism as an activity or a process which can be broken down into three main sub-divisions. The first he called the dynamic phase. This covers the movement of the tourist to and from the destination. The second phase is the static element which focuses on the ‘stay’ of the tourist and the third is the consequential element which involves the description of the impact of the tourist on the economic, physical and social environment of his destination. The functional approach is a model for looking at tourism as an interconnected process or a system with inputs, and outputs, links and feedback mechanisms. The functional view pays little or no attention to issues of profitability, economic exploitation and inequalities preferring rather to focus attention on how to provide a description of the attributes of the industry in terms of the tourists, their destination and various impacts.
On the other hand, the political economy approach clearly states that tourism perpetuates many existing inequalities despite its considerable benefits to poor countries . Unlike the functional approach, the political economy approach probes beneath the mere surface characterization of the industry. This theory views tourism as emanating from the desire of the affluent middle classes in metropolitan countries to travel abroad. It contends that the companies which have emerged to service the tourism industry have organized themselves in a manner to best exploit the tourism demand. And such companies include hotels, airlines and tour guides. For the Calabar carnival, we may add the costume designers and a litany of middlemen and women. The consequence is that a bulk of the tourist expenditure is retained by the above cabal. In addition, these agencies ensure that the tourist is confined to isolated enclaves separated from most of the local population. And finally, the tourist package makes it impossible for host countries to gain adequate control over their own visitors. In fact this approach sees nothing economically or socially beneficial in engaging in tourism. Rather it views tourism as an extension of imperialism and a reflection of patterns of trading links and spheres of influence which must have been established over time.