It was a night full of emotions and nostalgia, as veteran musicians of Akwa Ibom origin take the center stage on the 30th day of the 32 days Ibom Christmas Celebration, holding at the Ibom Christmas Village, Uyo.
The 2021 edition was held on Thursday, December 30, 2021 featuring 11 veteran musicians; Sir Etubom Rex Williams, Chief John Okon Inim (Inim Eto), Chief Ubang Akpanette(Uncle JB), Chief Edet Essien Akpan (E.E Akpan), Chief Anietie Etuk-Udo Ekpo (Unity Star), Mr. Patrick Peter Udo (The Doves), Mr. Etuk Willie Bassey (leematex), Mr. Lemmy Jackson Otu, late Chief Emmanuel Ette Ntia, late Chief Okon Etuk Ibok (Udo-Abianga) and Tex Ubong Henry, all of whom were honoured with an endowed Lifetime Achievement Award.
The night witnessed a guest performance by Afrikaman Ekpotu, who led the pack of special performances by late Chief Emmanuel Ette Ntia’s son, Israel Ntia and late Chief Okon Etuk Ibok (Udo Abianga)’s son,Mendie Udo-Abianga, performing alongside the veterans who crooned hit tunes of yesteryears.
The governor of Akwa Ibom State, Mr Udom Emmanuel who was represented by his deputy, Mr Moses Ekpo (MFR) commended the Orman Esin led Ministry of Culture & Tourism for the initiative and stressed the need to continually and frequently interface with the music icons and other great entertainers in the state.
The Veterans Night has become a constant feature in the schedule of the state’s events, as it parades great musicians of yesteryears who had thrilled the older generation of music lovers with their hit songs. The night helps the older ones to relish those good old days, just as it seeks to recognize and celebrate the music icons, some of whom may have been forgotten or abandoned to fate and ill health.
‘It is pertinent to celebrate our living legends’, the Akwa Ibom State Commissioner for Culture & Tourism, Rt. Hon. Orman Esin had said during a chat at the Ibom Christmas Village, while emphasizing the importance of a night as such, he explained the need to curate contents that appeal to all demography in the 32-Day Ibom Christmas Celebration event calendar; from the games arena, to the children park and the daily event activities designed to ensure that Akwa Ibom people of all age brackets find something amusing at the Ibom Christmas Village.
The Ibom Christmas Village is set up in a conducive environment, home to the Ibibio Unity Museum and Park, which is serene and refreshing with lush green grasses spread across the vast, 11-acre beautiful landscape. The venue is very much accessible even by first-time visitors to the state, as it has always been a melting point for tourists and people from across the country, who want to enjoy the friendly climate and air that come with the last month of the year.
The village, which is set on a huge spread of land at the expansive Unity Park, allows for effective social distancing and respect of COVID-19 restrictions opens on the 1st of December each year “is a statement to show that Akwa Ibom is ready for the business of tourism”. It is reputed to be the biggest Christmas event of its kind in Africa with the size of its location and potential for growth. With over 300 vendors this year and attracting thousands of visitors every evening, the village has become a must-visit place in Nigeria every December, and with lots of musical events, drama, games, and outdoor catering services, the village has been keeping the bustling spirit of Christmas high in Uyo.
One area that featured prominently on every speaker or visitor’s lips was the need to sustain the annual Akwa Ibom Christmas Village celebration, which to many, is an emerging force in the country’s tourism calendar. The village, attracting more than 2,000,000 visitors and which despite the restrictions of the COVID-19 pandemic last year still held due to popular public demand.
The Culture and Tourism Ministry has always put everything in place to provide maximum security for the teeming number of fun seekers to the Ibibio Unity Park. Security agencies are always on standby to ensure lives and properties are safe and protected. The commissioner stated, “It has always been a lovely and engaging experience for Akwa Ibom people, and there is no point considering travelling outside the state for the celebrations, as we always have lots of amazing activities lined up to entertain guests, while keeping the place busy for 32 days non-stop.
See photos below
Nelson NseAbasi ©