By Kelvin Obambon
As part of activities slated for the 2023 Carnival Calabar, the Cross River State Carnival Commission on Saturday 18th November, 2023, organized an essay writing competition for students from secondary schools and tertiary institutions in the state.
Speaking with journalists at the West African People’s Institute (WAPI), venue for the Calabar center, the Executive Secretary of the Commission, Mr Austin Cobham, said that the essay writing competition was holding in five different centers across the state.
According to him, “the annual Carnival Calabar essay writing competition is running simultaneously in five centers in the state. This is WAPI center in Calabar. We have in COE, Akamkpa. We have in Ikom, Ogoja and Obudu.”
He said the exercise was a comeback and a huge contributing factor to the academic works of carnival, adding that “we have had it before, like 10 years back. You must also know that University of Calabar as a school created the carnival studies department because of Carnival Calabar. This is a complementary effort to boost the academia.”
The Executive Secretary, however, hinted that there are prizes for students who would emerge winners of the competition and also for their respective schools, ranging from laptops to cash prizes.
He said the reintroduction of the essay writing competition aspect of the Carnival Calabar was greeted with enthusiasm, which further indicated the impact the exercise have had on the academic development of the students, since it essentially deals with reading and writing.
While assuring that the essay writing competition this time around will be sustained in subsequent editions of the Carnival Calabar, Mr Cobham disclosed that there are lots of organizations who are willing to support and invest in the academic aspect of the carnival.
“There are lots of support groups, organizations and sponsors out there that will be willing to invest in the academic work. We’ve started reaching out, though the timing for this year’s programme was too short for such collaborations. Yet, we still have one or two collaborations for this project which we will make mention on the prize giving day,” he said.
On his part, the chairman of All Nigeria Conference of Principals of Secondary Schools, ANCOPSS, Cross River State chapter, Comrade Etim Nsa Essien, commended the Cross River State Government for coming up with such a laudable initiative.
He affirmed that apart from the prize award that will be given to the students, the Carnival Calabar essay writing competition “is going to help them to be prepared at all times on how to read and write. It will also prepare them for future competitions. It is a very good idea. I love it and I urge the state to sustain it.”
Comrade Essien who is the principal of NYSC secondary school, Calabar, disclosed that his school has five students that are taking part in the competition, and therefore expressed optimism that they will come out top.
Similarly, other principals and teachers who came with their students said they are anticipating spectacular performance from them. They, however, called on the organizers of the competition to improve on the lapses observed in this year’s essay writing competition, such as short notice to school managements.
Meanwhile, some of the students who spoke with journalists shortly after the essay writing competition, expressed delight for taking part in the exercise. They said the essay writing competition has broadened their knowledge on the concept of culture and development, particular as it pertains to the Calabar Carnival.
They also said that the competition has given them the opportunity to think creatively and express their views and as well as interact with students from other schools.
The theme of the essay competition is, “Repositioning Our Culture for the Development of Cross River State.” The 2023 Carnival Calabar is in its 19th edition. 107 students from secondary schools and tertiary institutions took part in the essay writing competition at the West African People’s Institute, WAPI.