The Benikrukru Cultural Festival is indisputably the biggest and longest multi-dimensional, multi-faceted tourism leisure and entertainment programme in the riverine areas. One day of exciting event, colourful activities and unprecedented yearly participation by close to 7,000 people from all over Ijaw nation.
A festive season that started at the turn of the millennium has grown in popularity, scope and participation year in, year out.
A cultural festival that started ten years ago has become a brand in the whole of Delta State. A carnival that initially started as children’s party has grown to be the biggest event in Delta State.
This is an annual, special and popular cultural festival that displays the Ijaw culture and heritage by means of music, dressing, drama and other cultural creativities of talented persons.
Today, it is arguably Ijaw nation’s strongest tourism brand. The Benikrukru people has employed this Festival/Carnival over the past years to drive its tourism efforts and provide exposure for its vast tourism sites and infrastructures such as the Crocodile Lake.
The Festival starts with the Tree-Lighting ceremony. In between, there are musical concerts which have featured renowned national artistes like Timaya, Barrister Smooth, etc who have all at one time or another graced the festival with their rhythms and lyrics.
There are also awareness campaigns and seminars on contemporary issues of global concerns, children’s Christmas Camp, theatre performances, vocational training for youths, fashion and food fairs to celebrate Ijaw nation, and so many other side attractions.
Benikrukru Carnival is a unique display of Ijaw heritage showcased through music, dance, drama and visual creativity which is reflected in the design of floats, costumes, and make-up. Despite the fun and relaxed atmosphere around the carnival, a great degree of thought, creativity and discipline go into the interpretation of the carnival theme under a strict adjudication process.
The result is pure magic – an outpouring of colour, sound, and spectacle, unmatched by anything else on the continent.
As part of the side attraction, during the celebration, free school bags, books, and other educational materials are given to over 1,000 children.
The carnival which is presumed to be the largest in the whole of the riverine areas is highly costumed to reflect the cultural heritage of the people. The traditional ruler is known as Pere in Izon language and his cabinets will also participate in this unique cultural carnival.
Again, traditional title holders and worthy illustrious sons and daughters always partake in the carnival that attracts over 7, 000 spectators from various parts of the country who come to watch the great cultural display of this rare kind that is largely covered by GbaramatuVoice Newspaper and other media industries. The Pere, his cabinet members, and other traditional title holders dress in their traditional regalia to reflect on the cultural carnival.
Benikrukru cultural carnival is not for only Gbaramtu indigenes and the Ijaw tribe; it is for all who are lovers of cultural carnival. Spectators who participate in this unique annual festival are always filled with enthusiasm.
It is proudly organised by a Niger Delta leader and philanthropist, Mr. Matthew Tonlagha and is scheduled to hold on December 25, 2017.
By Jacob Abai