CARNIRIV: Showcasing Rivers Culture

The word culture has many aspects. Culture involves music, art, theater, literature, and in science it includes cells, tissues, organs or organisms grown for scientific purposes, or the breeding and keeping of particular living things in order to get the substances they produce. Indeed, to cap it all, culture is the way of life, especially the general customs and beliefs, of a particular group of people at a particular time.
Rivers State is a home of diverse cultural heritage. All the ethnic groups that make up the state have their cultural values and beliefs that make them distinct and unique. There is no ethnic group without cultural belief in Rivers State; and in the light of this, there are countless cultural groups across the State. The masquerades display depicts the true nature of Rivers people as people endowed with creative talents. Every cultural display of Rivers people has it unique costume that appreciates nature in realty as most of the masks and sculptures show artistic display of creativity.
CARNIRIV right from inception in 1988 was to showcase Rivers culture to the outside world. And that is why the Rivers State government spends heavily to organize the festival. But the unfortunate thing is that creative art is not given it pride of place in the cultural festival. There is need for documentation of whatever that takes place during CARNIRIV. Many Rivers people and some Nigerians do not know that CARNIRIV has existed for about twenty four years now. There is need for museum to preserve some of the artifacts used during the festival.
Some of the materials and customs used in CARNIRIV are expensive and fascinating. That is why the government of Rivers State or Rivers State Ministry of Culture and Tourism must take proactive approach if really, there is need to preserve Rivers culture. The culture of Ikwerre, Kalabari, Obolo, Abua, Ibani, Okrika, Etche, Ekpeye and Ogoni people etc are unique and their culture and dances, they are easily identified. That is why cultural songs should be encouraged and used in the native dialects.
Indeed, more emphasis should be placed on Rivers culture in a bid to promote the cultural heritages of Rivers people to the outside world. The CARNIRIV village should be established in greater Port Harcourt to serve as tourist centre for revenue earning to the State. There is need for permanent CARNIRIV Village in Rivers State as this will help to sustain the festival.
Thus, CARNIRIV should be for pleasure and tourism and not to invoke the spirit of any deity. It should be for entertainment and not for libation to any deity. It is obvious that CARNIRIV has come to stay. But there is need for empowerment of artistes and artists during the period of celebration. Rivers people are ready to engage in this year’s CARNIRIV in a grand style. That is why the committee concerned must look beyond political, ethnic and religious inclination if maximum success is the expectation. CARNIRIV is beyond Rivers people festival; therefore there is need for proper conduct during the period of the festival.
The twenty three local Government Areas and some corporate organizations that show case their brand should understand the aim and objectives of CARNIRIV to Rivers people. There is need to use the period of the festival to preach unity, peace and progress of Rivers State in particular and Nigeria in general because the festival can never be staged in an atmosphere of rancor and acrimony. That is why every stake holder must imbibe the spirit of sincerity and transparency.
The culture of Rivers people can yield revenues to Rivers State, if properly harnessed by those concerned. In the true sense of CARNIRIV, every Rivers person is a stake holder irrespective of the ethnic group. Indeed, there is need for Rivers State government to use this period of CARNIRIV to promote and develop cultural attires of the people. And if there is any who should champion the cause, it is the incumbent governor of the State, Rt. Hon. Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi. Today mini skates and pants are worn by our people as a result of influence of foreign culture. And that is the more reason why CARNIRIV is the best and popular fiat form to show case the unique culture of Rivers people to the world that will come to watch the historical event. And in the true sense of CARNIRIV, let there be no abuse of culture by participants and observers. ###

Frank Eneawaji Ogwuonuonu

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