For Naijatreks, By Nseobong Okon Ekong (Deputy Editor at THISDAY Newspapers)
The Port Harcourt Tourist Beach Waterfront was one of the hot spots for spectacular performances at the PortHarcourt Carniriv 2010 event. The boat regatta was a contest between the 23 local governmentareas in the state.
The regatta was one of the activities that attracted so much gusto from participants and the audience. Being a riverine community, every part of the state had something
to show. The competition was very keen. So participating teams sought to do the usual in order to get the attention of the judges. Their moves on the water were daring and
mesmerizing. The splendor and grace of the boats were breathtaking. The canoe types were pretty much the same.
There were wrestling boats, war canoes and coronation canoes. Top on the list of dramatic happenings at the regatta was the courageous move by the contingent from Bonny. Many in the audience did not recognize their manoveure as a deliberate ploy to earn a point or two, even the officials seemed lost on this score as the moderator kept announcing it as a disaster. Kalapapa Hart, Captain of the 55-man contingent in the boat said it was a move to test faith and their ability to rescue should anything go wrong. Observers who were not familiar with what was going on did not know that Hart and his team deliberately sank the boat midstream. To an unwary on-looker, it seemed as if there was a shipwreck and a hopeless situation was about to occur.
However, while everyone was glued to the spectacle,the process to salvage was started and completed in double quick time. What appeared to be a disaster was remedied.
The first to be saved was the chief, while some team members in the ‘sinking’ Bonny canoe swam ashore, others carried out the script by putting back the pieces of the ravaged boat. In no time, the boat was good and back in the waters. All the 55-crew members in their blue and white costume were intact, rowing the boat as their paddles
pushed back the waters; drumming, singing and dancing, the canoe was on course again! The Best Overall local government in the regatta event was Obio/Akpor, followed by
Okrika, while Eleme came third. The contingents were judged for Best Costumed Local Government Chairman, Best Costumed Contingent, Best and Display/Choreography and Best Float.
Apparently, display on water is an area of comparative advantage that Rivers state can build on to emerge with a show that will compel millions of visitors to Carniriv.
Perhaps, the future is in this direction. ‘Experience Rivers’, which is the theme for Carniriv 2010, is anchored on the realization that Rivers State, known as the Treasure Base of Nigeria has an abundant reservoir of cultural products and practitioners and we have a responsibility and commitment to properly harness these into a viable investment powerhouse.
Beyond showcasing their dynamic and rich heritage, structures have been initiated to ensure that Carniriv becomes a global brand.