Cross River State governor, Prof Ben Ayade has disclosed that plans are underway to reposition the annual Calabar festival and transform it into a veritable platform for African discourse.
The governor who described the carnival as Africa's biggest street party stressed that he had a burning desire to see Africans speak in one voice.
Ayade was speaking during the unveiling of the theme for the 2018 edition of the Carnival Calabar which included a short video presentation on illegal mining exploitation across Africa by a few rich foreign aristocrats held at the state executive chamber, Calabar.
He expressed optimism that this year's edition of the tourism event will go a long way in righting the wrongs done to Africans by foreigners, especially colonial overlords, by portraying the continent and its people as the true owners of the real wealth in the world.
Ayade: "Because Nigeria's foreign policy is Afrocentric, the unification of Africa has become critical, let the carnival speak to power, speak to Africans that the African Union must rise and defend Africa."
The governor who said he was elated by the theme of this year's carnival, "Africanism" , further remarked that " time has come when Africa must start thinking as a country and provide a shoulder for weaker African countries to lean on."
He said he made a choice of using the carnival as a platform to tell the African story as well as remind the world that civilization started in Africa and that Africans are the greatest semblance of God.
The governor further disclosed that he intends to bring intellectualism as a more rewarding adventure to the Calabar carnival and indeed African heritage to represent every sector of African structure in the global space.
Ayade charged the band leaders of the 2018 carnival to make Africa proud by talking big about the continent as according to him, "Africa has grown and will war no more", adding "make the streets glitter with things and colours that truly represent Africa as only this will show we have come of age."
Ayade said he was of the view that youthfulness and vitality of Africa must be expressed in their dance, story precision and sub- themes as these will bring about the reverse of immigration to assure young men and women that Africa had realised itself and on the part of restitution and enhanced growth. "Let the carnival tell the reverse hypothesis of these stories and create a new cortosis that create a direction and focus that accentuates and celebrates the African man and let's use this year's platform to tell the true story that the real wealth lies in Africa and that Africa is indeed the leader", Ayade stressed.
Speaking at the event, Chairman of Cross River State Tourism Commission, Gabe Onah said the Calabar carnival remained the main factor that had changed the narrative about Cross River and put the state and Nigeria on a global map.
Onah praised Ayade for introducing international carnival, Bikers' parade, Miss Africa Beauty Pageant among other innovations into the Calabar carnival thereby taking the yearly event to unprecedented height.