By Ameh Comrade Godwin
For five days, the sky of Otukpo lit up in pink, red and black colours. Others flash like strobes. The night skyline of St. Mary’s Primary School, venue of the grand gathering glowed in a grandiose carnival of shade like the night skies at Christmas.
Albeit, it was Yuletide season, but the brilliant colours were neither sparkle from fireworks by jubilant kids, nor from crackers fired by adults celebrating the New Year. The sparkles were shimmers blazing forth from the galaxy of stars and colours of culture that were in attendance.
It was billed to be moments of glamour and excitement. And so it turned out to be. The city of Otukpo, the southern flank of Benue Valley will not in a rush forget the experience and groove in the air for a long time to come.
It was a moment that stars shone and nearly set the city ablaze by the sheer force of their brightness. Dignitaries from government, business, diplomatic circles, and of course, artistes, were all at the 2019 edition of the Idoma International Carnival, which drew its curtain on Friday, December 27.
This was the seventh edition of the annual festival.The 2019 edition of the Idoma International Carnival might have come and gone, but the memories still linger, especially in the heart of those who partook in the yearly ‘ritual.’
Dubbed the biggest street party in the northern end of the Niger, Idoma Carnival bore on its shoulders glitz, glamour and razzmatazz.
The 2019 edition of the five-day event tagged ‘Agbenu Kacholalo’ (Wealth of Our People) could only be summed up with the caption: optimis optimus.
Before the main event, there was a football tournament, which was won by Emirates FC of Otukpo.
‘Agbenu Kacholalo’ kicked started on December 22 with the jeans carnival, which literarily held residents and tourists in Otukpo, Africa’s acclaimed ‘Texas’ enthralled.
From Ogiri Okoh to Ojira Streets, Ajene to Ogwonu Igbahapa, streets of Otukpo were ‘jeaned’ from sun till moonlight.
The jean party over, drums were rolled out for celebration of people, whose public conduct and action helped to inspire hope for a better Idoma/Nigerian community with the award night.
Recognition for hardwok, sacrifices
Topping the list of the awardees were:
1. Idoma Man of the Year 2019 – – Dr. Pastor Paul Enenche.
2. Most Outstanding Legislator of the Year -Comrade Abba Moro
3. Legal luminary of the year
4. Lifetime Achievement Award
a. Mrs Rosemary Oganyi
b. Senator David Mark
c. AVM Monday Morgan Riku
d. Bongos Ikwue
e. AIG Wilson Inalegwu
f. Susan Peters
g. Chris Morgan Ochogwu
5. Posthumous Award
6. Public Servant of the Year
7. Artist of the Year (Circular)
8. Artist of the Year (Gospel) – Owi Abutu
9. Upcoming Artist of the year
-Emmanuel Olofu (Meddy)
-Emmanuel Abogonye (Chokoli)
11. Actor of the Year
– Lucy Ameh
12. Philanthropist of the Year
13. Local Government Chairman of the Year – Chief George Alli
14. Alumni Association of the Year
-OtukpoGovernment Secondary School Old Boys Association.
15. Entertainer of the Year
16. Idoma Sports Personality of the Year – Anthony Ujah
17. Idoma Diaspora Person of the Year -Barr. Emmanuel Ogebe
18. Most Idoma Friendly Person of the Year –Felicia Ijachi
19. Broadcaster of the Year
20. Youth Trail Blazer of the Year
– Hon. Barr. Aida Ojema Nat-Ogwuche
21. Idoma Inventor of the year – Engr. Michael Friday
22. Most Outstanding Transport Company of the Year – Joe Silver Travels
23. Most Outstanding Idoma Caterer of the year
– Jane Onyechi Ikpeme (Queen Restaurant Otukpo).
Beyond just a carnival
For the founder and brain behind the Idoma International Carnival, Chief Edwin Ochia, the yearly event is more than just a carnival. It is an umbrella to unite the Idoma nation. Bridge the gap between the elite and poor. Quash the enone, enochi dichotomy that has long divided the one united people of the Kwas ancestry.
These were part of his speech at the opening ceremony of the epoch-making event.
For seven consecutive years, Chief Ochai has single-handedly held high the Idoma red and black banner high in promotion of its rich cultural heritage through the carnival.
“To me, this is not just a carnival. It is beyond just a celebration or street party. Idoma International Carnival is a platform created to unit our people irrespective of status, religion or political affiliation. It is a platform of Idoma by Idoma and for Idoma.
“Why am I saying this? If you observe carefully, the rate of moral decadence in our land is alarming and our elite seem to have turned the other way. Our youths are including in social vices and are being killed on a daily basis, no one cares. Idoma International Carnival is aimed at changing this narrative and giving the community a new name.
“Today, we have many carnivals in every nook and cranny of Idoma land. We need to collapse them into one and tell the Idoma story with one voice.
“Idoma International Carnival is here to stay and together, we shall make Idoma land grate again,” Chief Ochai submitted amid cheers and applause from the mammoth crowd.
Day of strength, culture and more
DAY 2 23nd December, 2019 was a beehive of activities as the Cultural Day/Ogbureke Traditional Wrestling and Comedy Night/Rap Battle took centre stage.
The second day indeed witnessed the display of the rich cultural heritage of Idoma people, nay, Nigeria.
Masquerades and cultural troupes from the 9 LGAs that formed Benue South Senatorial were fully displayed.
On the other hand, the Ogbureke Traditional Wrestling recalled the strength of Iduh, the founder of the Idoma kingdom.
The contest left many people with mouth ajar as able-bodied men ‘danced in the dust’ for the star prize. At last, it was Yahaya Yahuza, who won the ‘golden arrow.’
Last activity of the night was a talent hunts tagged ‘Comedy Night battle.’ There, young people with budding talents wowed the crowd with what they know how to do best.
MC Obobo was the star of the night as he was garbed with the royal robe.
Texas City on fire
DAY 3: 24nd December, 2019 was the Carnival/Parade of the Bands and All Stars Party. Otukpo literarily went up in flames as the parade bands took over the red dust city.
Different bands and groups thrilled residents of the ancient city with never-have-seen kind of entertainment. The city stayed awake for A-list of Nigerian entertainers who mounted the stage to dazzle guests for the All Stars Party.
Christmas gift for Idoma people…a new queen is birthed
DAY 4 (25nd December, 2019.
Earlier on Christmas Day, organizers and contestants of Face of Idoma went on a courtesy to Och’Idoma Palace, where they received the royal blessing of the custodian of Alekwu K’Idoma, HRM, Agabaidu Elias Obekpa.
The night gifted the Idoma community a queen with the crowning of Abbah Margaret as the Face of Idoma International 2019 (a keenly contested beauty pageant).
Miss Abbah floored several other contestants to pick the golden crown. She won the star prize of a brand new Hyundai Veracruz SUV and other mouth-watering prizes.
The two runners-up, Patience Ahubi and Ruth Ene Brooks also went home with other consolation prizes.
No one was left behind, the children too
DAY 5 (26nd December, 2019 was a special day set aside to celebrate the Idoma child with the Idoma Children Party where the kids were treated to a sumptuous gala.
Roll call of entertainers
Dan d humorous
Naomee Oboyi was the host of the event.
In conclusion, the 2019 edition was truly a display of Agbenu Kach’Idoma.