“My Culture In All Its Magnificence!”: A Personal Account by Agbani Darego …

| January 16, 2013 | 0 Comments

It is so lovely to see the re-emergence of a sense of pride associated with our culture, heritage and natural landscape. In December 2012,  one of Nigeria’s iconic beauties, Agbani Darego journeyed to her home state Rivers where she has been chosen as the Face of CARNIRIV 2012. Agbani tells YOU all about her experience and how she relished celebrating her culture in all its splendour!

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There is really no place like home and returning to Port Harcourt as the Face of the CARNIRIV 2012 was such an amazing experience. A lot of my most cherished memories were made in Port Harcourt and it was a lovely honor and privilege to have been chosen as the face of the carnival. Not only did I appreciate the welcome I got from the people of the State, but it also gave me an opportunity to reconnect with my roots.

CARNIRIV is an annual week-long cultural carnival in Port Harcourt devised to celebrate our rich heritage and buoyant culture in all its splendor. It’s an event the people of the State eagerly anticipate. The carnival was comprised of an interesting line-up of activities which I truly enjoyed.

My week as the Face of CARNIRIV 2012, kicked-off with the opening ceremony – a colorful event filled with culture and powered by excitement of the people. From the “Dance of the Fireflies”, to performances from local and international artistes, it was an entertaining evening which also featured wonderful fireworks display.

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I was given the opportunity to read a poem titled “We Are” – the poem spoke of the Rivers ancestry, the beauty of its people, its heritage and welcomed the world to the carnival; to our home. I was touched by the emotions the poem drew and humbled that I was chosen to share something so meaningful with the rest of the world.

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Day 2 was the International Aquatic Fiesta, which was basically a boat regatta. The local government areas within the state participated in a competition that showcased their beautifully designed boats and showmanship in canoeing and other water sports. It really was a sight to behold! The color coordinated costumes, the masquerades and the synchronized movements as they paddled the boats – WOW! What I found most remarkable was the big grin on their faces expressing their delight to be there.  It was obvious they were putting all in showcasing the best representation of their Local Government Areas!

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Although I was warned, I will not forget how startled I was when a canon went off during one of the presentations, I literally had my hand to my chest – LOL- Never again or at least till next year!
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Day 3 was the International Heritage Parade.  The pageantry of the float parade was amazing! Here the LGA’s presented floats designed to tell a story of their area, while the people showcased the traditional attires indigenous to their area and of course there was dancing!

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Every LGA did a great job; the floats were very creative- all interestingly unique. Everyone took part in the parade; young, old, middle-aged, men, women, there was no discrimination. This is one of the things I love about CARNIRIV; it’s a festival for ALL! The big aunties danced as much as the young folk! It was a unifying experience; on that parade ground it was only about the people of Rivers in their varying shapes, colors and sizes celebrating their shared love for their culture.

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The final day was a culmination of all the week’s activities, starting with a parade that went round the streets of Port Harcourt. This was truly a fun day, with everyone on the street dancing and cheering on as I along with, the Governor, Deputy Governor, his wife and other Rivers State officials walked the city of Port Harcourt.  I was dressed for the part, in a pair of comfortable flats of course!  🙂

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There were smiles all around, the streets were buzzing with excitement, the energy was contagious! It was a wonderful day!

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I most definitely have tremendous respect for all the people that participated in the parade, as they walked miles and danced with every muscle in their body – I say “Ikorite!!”; my beloved Kalabari people will understand this!

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The carnival ended with the World Peace Concert. The results from all competitions were announced and there were more performances from local artistes, and as you can see, I managed to display a few dance steps of my own! You don’t want to compete with me on the dance floor! haha!

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CARNIRIV 2012 was a great success. It was a fun week filled of activities that showcased and celebrated the culture and heritage of the State and truly united the people. I enjoyed every bit of it. Thank You Rivers State for having me, it was truly an honor.

Photo Credit: Flash Paparazzi (PH)

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