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COMEFEST: A potpourri of culture and tourism

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Colours of Mkpat Enin Cultural Festival (COMEFEST)

By Dennis Udoma, Senior Correspondent, Uyo

Colours of Mkpat Enin Cultural Festival (COMEFEST), is simply, a potpourri of culture and tourism. It is usually hosted during the yuletide to showcase the rich indigenous cultural endowment of Mkpat Enin people, sponsored by the Local Government Council, as an attempt to re-write the cultural heritage of the area in the national and global tourism map.

It is an event that has come to stay courtesy of the Council Chairman, Mr Ekanem Brown. Colours of Mkpat Enin Festival was first debuted in December 2018, with avalanche of indigenous cultural displays spiced with African cuisines and other side attractions, which impression necessitated the forthcoming edition slated for December 15 – 3 this year, at the Council headquarters in Mkpat Enin Local Government of Akwa Ibom State.

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Prominent sons and daughters from the local government are expected to be part of the ceremony, while top government functionaries, academia and political bigwigs amongst others will also be in attendance.

The cultural festival is aimed at creatively harnessing the enormous culture/tourism assets of the people of Mkpat Enin for export through World tourism market, as well as repositioning the local government in the culture and tourism map both nationally and globally.

As usual, it will serve as the curtain raiser for this year’s Christmas, by presenting participants the opportunity to showcase their God’s given talents, cultural endowment and artefacts, while guests savour the ceremony.

That is why, experience from last year’s edition necessitated the 2019 cultural festival, now an annual event in the local government tagged, ‘‘Our Cultural Assets’’, was unveiled recently at Wart Bridge Hotels, Uyo on September 27, 2019.

Stakeholders from the culture and tourism sector spoke glowingly at the ceremony given the socio-economic impact the 2018 edition brought to bear in the small scale businesses and well-being of the people. Among them were; Akwa Ibom Commissioner for Culture and Tourism, Mr Oman Esin, Commissioner for Environment and Petroleum Resources, Ekong Sampson and Ubong Ekpe who saw the festival as a huge market for economic activities.

They added that, about 150 open shops would be provided for business operators and called on them to take advantage of the show to transact their businesses.

The Council Chairman, while unveiling the theme a head of the festival in December said, the day was significant as, it coincided with the celebration of 2019 World Tourism Day; set aside by the United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO), to review global tourism activities with the hope of accessing its impact both on the global GDP, environment and humanity.

Mr Brown, who described Mkpat Enin and its people as best kept secrets in Nigeria said, the local government is known for its rich cultures, abode for the ancient African Elephants, where over 500 years old virgin forest reserve tucked in medical biodiversity, the mythical Ndedeng Stream provides cure to all manners of deceases ever known to man. A land of warriors, where maidens are made by sheer hard work and exceptional intelligence, would be shown to the world at the event.

According to him, ‘‘Mkpat Enin is a land of African Queens (Asian Ubaikpa/Mbukpo); African best in beauty and intelligence. It is on this note that, I have been given the mandate to unveil the signature of her cultural pride that made its debut in 2018.

‘‘This cultural signature of Mkpat Enin people, catalogued in consultations with the custodians of our cultural history, had since inception reflected the historical essence of Mkpat Enin people.

‘‘It is our modest effort at strategically re-positioning our cherished Local Government, in Nigeria’s culture/tourism calendar. This noble initiative represents avowed commitment to creatively harness the enormous culture/tourism assets of the people for export through the World tourism market’’.

Other ingredience that would make the festival thick include;

Colours Parade/Cultural Carnival:

Colours parade and cultural carnival will be the curtain raiser for this year’s festival with more than 5,000 beautifully coloured costumed artistes, cultural troupes and revellers with story-telling props, will be showcased with the enthralling and charismatic cultural displays to the delight of guests.

The Christmas, Arts/Crafts and Games Village:

The Christmas Village is conceptualized to provide all round entertainment and satisfaction to tourists, guests and families within and around Mkpat Enin during the yuletide. The Arts and Crafts section shall have on display, an array of souvenirs and irresistible creative works of arts to meet the needs of arts enthusiasts, while the Games Village with children game items are designed to provide comfort for the recreational needs of children and youth during the festival.

Night of Awards: 

Night of Awards will offer an opportunity to openly express our appreciation to all those who have significantly added value to the lives of Mkpat Enin people through their patriotic and selfless (philanthropic) gestures.

Queen/Brains pageantry (Mbokpo Mkpat Enin)

The beauty queen’s contest otherwise called (Mbokpo) Mkpat Enin will emphasize more on beauty in the African context. Panel of Judges shall consider less of the “Figure 8 Shape”, but more of the true African beauty and intelligence deserving maidens will be crowned as Mbokpo Mkpat Enin.

Mkpat Enin Total Lock-Down:

This will be a night of musical rendezvous featuring; Nigerian artistes and a great number of them would be the upcoming artistes and Stand-Up comedy shows from Mkpat Enin, Akwa Ibom and beyond. Interestingly, other activities shall include; visits to historic sites, fishing expedition, canoeing and seafaring, Palm tree climbing competition, traditional cycling, talents hunt etc. These events have fantastic prizes to be won at the end of the programme.

GOSPEL NIGHT:

The event will be rounded – up with a praise and worship session at Mkpat Enin Township Stadium, and will also feature word administration, songs, dance and prayers for God’s blessings for the year ending and guidance for a prosperous New Year 20-20.

COMEFEST, just like the Community Festival (ComFest) in Columbus, is Mr Ekanem Brown’s initiative born out of a desire to use the cultural show as a bait to bring out the creative ingenuity of his people to be showcased to the World. It is observed by many to be the first ever cultural/tourism show since the creation of the Local Government some decades ago.

In the words of the Chairman, ‘it is our bold attempt at leveraging on the abundant natural endowments, and valuable heritage in the ancient land of African Elephants (Mkpat Enin), and innovatively packaging them to attract global appeal and patronage.

He called on the corporate organizations to take advantage of the event and sponsor it, as the cultural festival would be money spinner for business operators, generate employment and empower the locals grow their economy.

 

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