Monday, 9 November 2009

Culture returns to Abuja streets

JUST as the curtain for the FIFA U-17 Championship is being drawn, Abuja, the nation’s capital, is set to host yet another great feast, as events of the 2009 Abuja Carnival opens in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT).
Beginning from the third week, culture workers, producers, artistes, art and craft makers, entertainers and administrators from the 36 states of the Federation, FCT inclusive, would converge at the Eagles Square and other venues, where the event of the 5th Abuja Carnival are scheduled to hold.
Expectedly, tourism will enjoy a boost, considering the attendant benefits that an event of this magnitude portends, especially for the hospitality and entertainment businesses. But how the administrators of FCT, organisers of these various events and businesses in the city are primed to take advantage of this carnival is something that would be known at the end of the festival.
However, the organisers of the cultural feast have assured all is set for the broth that has taken them such a short time frame to cook. The four-day cultural showpiece is scheduled to hold between November 21 and 24, as revealed by Prof. Rasaki Ojo Bakare. He said, this year’s carnival would be remarkably different from previous editions. To begin with, the carnival is being returned to the streets of Abuja just as it was done in 2006 when the opening ceremonies and other cultural display were held in Area Two and its adjoining environs.
Residents of Abuja will also have opportunity to participate in the festival as the first day, Saturday, is devoted to street show with the carnival float taking off from Garki Village, Area One, Festival Road to Eagle Square. The formal opening ceremony is billed to hold in the evening of the same day at the Eagle Square. The reason for taking the carnival back to the streets of Abuja, according to Bakare, is to ensure the massive involvement of the public in the cultural feast, considering that carnival is a people oriented event with all the glitz, rhythm and celebration.
Besides, some of the traditional events for the carnival have also been re-designed in an attempt to enrich the context, as well as performance and artistic contents of the yearly show. Apart from the 36 states of the federation and Abuja, troupes from countries such as Egypt, South Africa and China are expected to grace the fiesta.

Attractions of Abuja
FCT is home to many tourist attractions and places of both historical and political interest that visitors to the city will find appealing. Visiting any of the four districts of the city, namely Asokoro, Maitama, Wuse and Central Business District and about the six local councils – Abaji, Kuje, Municipal, Gwangwalada, Kwali and Bwari – will no doubt bring new experience.
Abuja’s landscape remains one of its most compelling attractions with Aso Rock (Asokoro), a massive undulating rocky plains, a perfect place to see. Its backdrop overshadows the Presidential Villa, which is Nigeria’s seat of government.
Some of the spots to visit include:
• The Three Arm Zone, which houses the Presidential Villa; the National Assembly; and the Supreme Court.
• Tomb of Unknown Soldier is located close to the entrance of the National Assembly complex and is colourfully adorned in the national colours. One of the attractions here is the Brigade of Guard on parade.
• Eagle Square is the centre of activities for the carnival.
• National Children Park and Zoo is a theme park with sections for both children and adults.
• Millennium Park is a plush and luscious outdoors garden park for leisure seekers of different flavours.
• Maitama Amusement Park, located in the Maitama district of the city, is a theme park for leisure.
• Abuja Wonderland is another theme park in the city but with different flavour. It is located near the National Stadium.
• National Mosque is a religious worship centre for Muslims and is a beautiful edifice to behold. It comes alive every Friday of the week when Muslim faithful are gathered for the Jumat Service.
• National Ecumenical Centre is another religious worship centre devoted to Christian faithful use. It is equally an enduring and attractive structure to behold.
• Zuma Rock is at the fringe of the city. It is a massive rocky range with an intriguing and awesome appeal.
• Nigeria Tourism Village is a privately run tourist centre that is devoted to the promotion of Nigerian culture and traditional values. It is located opposite Zuma Rock.
• NTDC Tourism Village is the head office of the Nigerian Tourism Development Corporation (NTDC) and has on display a rich repertoire of Nigeria’s vast cultural and tourism products. It also has a restaurant and craft shop that should be patronised for best of Nigeria’s cuisine and art work collections. Others spots to see are Julie Useni Park, Arts and Craft Village, Nu Metro Cinema, The Dome, National Stadium, ECOWAS Building, IBB Golf Course and International Conference Centre.

Places to stay

Abuja is one of the cities in Nigeria with a growing number of hotels ranging from budget to luxury hotels. The list include: Nicon Luxury Suites, Transcorp Hilton Hotel, Angeles Hotel, Rockview Hotel, Abuja Sheraton Hotel and Towers, Mediterranean Resort, Grace Point Hotel, Chida Guest House, Savannah Suites, Bolingo Hotel, Agura Hotel, Day Spring Hotel and Hotel Rosebud. Others are Bolton White Hotel, Chelsea Hotel, and Crystal Palace Hotel.

Dining out

For a taste of Nigerian dishes and other continental flavours as well as a place to cool off after the day’s work, the following places should arouse one’s interest – Jenivik Restaurant, Shagalinku, Salamander Café, Chopsticks, Thai Hi Royal, Ciao and Sinoni Restaurant. Southern Fried Chicken, Capital Bar of Transcorp Hilton Hotel and Coconut Beach, Elephant and Lobby Bar and Italian Restaurant of Abuja Sheraton Hotel. Blakes, De Grand Mirage Nite Club, Octagon Nite Club, Nigerian Tourist Village and Bolingo Bar as well as Two – Four – Seven, Mama cass, Mr. Bigg’s, Sweet Sensation, Wakkis, Chez Victor and Chase Continental. Others are Bolingo Bar, Savannah Suite Garden and bar, British Council Roof top café, Kesthern Garden.

Shopping out

Wuse market, Garki market, Grand Square, Banex Plaza, Amigos, Park ‘n’ Shop and Ceddi Plaza.

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