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By Florence Utor
28 January 2018   |   4:06 am
History was again made during the Christmas festive season, as Idoma International Carnival, which was in its fifth year, revved up Otukpo streets as Idoma sons and daughters...

History was again made during the Christmas festive season, as Idoma International Carnival, which was in its fifth year, revved up Otukpo streets as Idoma sons and daughters, both at home and in the diaspora and visitors from different parts of Nigeria, came out in their thousands to participate in the electrifying activities of the 2017 edition of the carnival.

In Nigeria, Benue State is known as ‘The Heart Beat of the Middle Belt’ and the entertainment hub north of the Niger. The Tiv and the Idoma people are the major inhabitants, alongside the Igede people. Otukpo, the traditional and administrative headquarter of the Idoma people, is also famous for being the heart of the lion and the land of the brave.

It was more than just a carnival as men and women, the young and the old, traditional rulers, academics, politicians, business stalwarts, captains of industry, opinion leaders, and students gathered to celebrate a common cultural heritage and chart the way forward for the Idoma nation. It was, indeed, an emotional sight to behold. The carnival was held in collaboration with the nine local governments that make up Idomaland, Idoma National Forum, Benue State Government through the Ministry for Arts, Culture and Tourism and Idoma National Youth Forum.

Highlights of the 2017 edition of the carnival were a football tournament, Idoma Achievement Awards, where the legendary musician, Bongos Ikwue, among several sons and daughters of the land were honoured. The street carnival was colourful, glamourous and full of glitz. It was carnival at its best, with its perfect blend of cultural heritage and the sights and sounds of Idomaland. Among the activities were Ogbureke traditional wrestling, musical concert and comedy night that had Harrysongs, Seyi Law, Arinze Baba alongside Benue’s finest from home, Abuja, Lagos, Port Harcourt.

The grand finale was Face of Idoma International pageant, where a brand new car was the star prize among other mouth-watering prizes for the runners-up. The philanthropic side of the carnival saw the President and Chairman, Board of Trustees of the carnival, Prince Edwin Ochai, donating over 180 bags of rice to some widows in Ado Local Government Area and renovating parts of St. Mary’s Primary School, Otukpo, venue of the annual event.

The carnival signalled the break of a new dawn, as the Idoma people, for the first time in decades spoke with one voice. The carnival is also gradually drawing the attention of the world to the rich tourism potential of the land. It is serving as a vehicle for bringing peace, unity and development to Idomaland.

Proud supporters of Idoma International Carnival include Hero lager beer, Access Bank, MTN, Skye Bank Plc, Radio Benue, Fidelity Bank Plc, Ragolis Water, Joy FM, and Peaches Integrated Services Nigeria LTD.

Already, organisers are gearing up for the 2018 edition of Idoma International Carnival and are reaching out to receive the entire world to Idomaland for yet another fiesta of fun and unity.