Boat regatta is a major celebration to most communities in Rivers State. It forms part of their history and tradition. The Rivers man history, especially the riverine people would not be complete without the long canoe. It is a special place in the development of the communities.
This trade became defined by the interest of the mercantile business groups or trading blocks from European countries. The long canoe made economic sense in transporting palm produce and other locally made goods from the hinter land to the coast. This was in exchange for coral beads, gold and other luxury items or factory goods bought by European traders.
At this stage, the long canoe defined the scope of the business or a statement of the volume of trade between groups. It was the main economic venture of the indigenous coastal and hinterland societies.
Boat regatta is a celebration of such a statement of economic and political success. When decorated with buntings and flags as well as the proper number of paddlers in their set attire swinging in rhythm to the drumming on board, the long canoe becomes a regatta outfit. It is a symbol of the political …… and health of each chieftaincy or War Canoe House.
When it donned with canoes as a gunboat, the long canoe served to police the waterway or enforce the will of a city state on a trade route. In many communities in the state (Rivers), the regatta boats are displayed in boat sheds called aru-wari.
These boats are usually kept in the open without their full range of fittings. Tourists are free to take pictures of different kinds without interference from any person.
Boat regatta showcased achieved a popular niche with the emergence of the Opobo International Boat Racing And Regatta Festival (OIB). Culture and Tourism learnt that the OIB was launched on January 4-6, 2007 in Opobo Town as a canoe race and regatta competition.
The Opobo boat regatta now serves as both a water-sport and cultural fiesta. It also indigenised some features of long canoe races organised by the Dragon Boat International Federation, in order to cut its identity as an international attraction for enthusiasts of the sport.
Today, the Opobo Boat Regatta (OBR) is now incorporated into the annual festival (CARNIRIV) organised by the Rivers State Government. The OBR is now to serve as one of the approved floats to be displayed at this year’s CARNIRIV celebration.
Culture and Tourism, was informed that the state governor says it will partner with the Opobo people to make it an annual culture festival (CARNIRIV) if it meets the set standard required for this year’s edition.
The Tide On Sunday learnt that the Governor Amaechi made statement during his Town Hall meeting with the people of Opobo/Nkoro Local Government Area at the King Jaja of Opobo Town last week.
According to Amaechi, the state government would direct the committee for the 2010 CARNIRIV to incorporate the boat regatta into this year’s edition which could be of international ranking.
He noted that Opobo Kingdom possesses the right potentials to compete with any other city in the country, saying that the Opobo Boat Regatta was one of such events that could attract attention to the area if properly packaged.
He revealed that all the people of Opobo/Nkoro as well as other costal communities in the state need to drive the economy of the area were there is land and link roads, stressing that the state government was tackling these challenges one after the other.
On that note, he stressed that, that was what gave rise to the state government’s decision to carry out extensive land reclamation in the area and approve the diversion of the Unity Road from Asarama.
The ball is now right in the court of the Opoboans whether or not to keep the promise of the governor alive.
Culture and Tourism have over the years described by analysts that is (culture/Tourism) is the only venture that can replace the oil industry. The argument is that it brings a kind of excitement that brings back even the “dead”.
Some maintained that culture and tourism should be incorporated into the school system where the young minds will be taught the need to keep culture and tourism as a habit.
They regretted that some tourism sites in the state were out of form. According to them, if some of those sites were refurbished, it will, among other things provide jobs for the teeming unemployed youths in the state.
Though, they expressed satisfaction over the state governor’s decision to incorporate the Opobo Boat Regatta into CARNIRIV.
According to them, the inclusion of the Opobo Boat Regatta into the Rivers annual Festival (CARNIRIV) will provide both recreational activities and income for the Opobo people.
Earlier, they have called on Governor Amaechi to fish out more coastal communities that have similar culture with the Opobo people and co-opt them into the CARNIRIV annual festival.
Anambra Community Moves To Fight Crime, Declares Operation Know Your Tenants
Following a rising wave of crime, Uke community in Idemili South Council of Anambra State has declared what it called ‘operation knows your tenants.’
The community said the move has become necessary since it was discovered that some of the criminal elements in the state are non-natives.
It would be recalled that the state government and police had said they have intensified the fight against criminal gangs in the state, and now carrying the fight to their hideouts across the state.
The Publicity Secretary of Uke Development Union (UDU), Mr. Ubaka Onwuanibe, in a statement, made available to newsmen in Awka, yesterday, said the community has now made it compulsory for all houses, shops and land owners to ensure they know the identity and occupation of those they rent their property out to occupy.
The statement said: “It is with every sense of responsibility that UDU Executive Council reassures of total commitment to ensuring safety and security of life and property in Ukeland.
“It is also imperative to sound a serious note of warning to every household in Ukeland to be very mindful of strangers admitted and accepted as tenants in their shops, stores, houses and compounds.
“In no distant time, format of such admittance and accommodation shall be made available to all village Chairmen and strict adherence to the guidelines is expected.
“It is pertinent to remind ourselves, again, of the need for all hands to be on deck in everything concerning security in Ukeland.”
Commenting on the recent kidnap and rescue of their son, Mr. Chukwudiebube Modu, the union’s secretary thanked their President General, Mr. Peter Onyejegbu and the traditional ruler of the community, HRH Igwe Charles Agbala, for the synergy that moved security agents to act promptly.
IN another development, the state government, yesterday, announced that it has restored peace among the Nkwelle Ezunaka community in Oyi Local Council of the state after over eight years of crisis.
The Commissioner for Local Government, Chieftaincy and Community Affairs, Mr. Collins Nwabunwanne, who brokered the peace during reconciliatory meeting with the warring factions in his office at the Government House Awka, commended members of the community for allowing peace to reign.
Nwabunwanne reminded them of the need for peaceful coexistence, insisting that he reconciled the factions for progress and stability to return to their community.
Court Remands Men In Bonny Over Cultism
A Port Harcourt Chief Magistrate Court in Rivers State presided over by A. O. Amadi Nna has remanded four members of Yoruba Community in Bonny Local Government Area of Rivers State in the Port Harcourt Correctional Centre over charges of cultism and conspiracy offences
The four accused persons remanded by the court last Thursday in Port Harcourt included Aboluwge Sunday, (aka Douglas), Tope Alaska, Tao Feak Olayiwola and Bore Ayodeji
The presiding Chief Magistrate had on April 11, 2022 adjourned the matter to Thursday for bail considerations.
However, on the resumed date, Chief Magistrate, Nna declined to grant the accused persons bail after hearing the arguments from the counsel in the matter and ordered that they should be remanded in the correctional custody and directed that the case file be sent to DPP for legal advice .
The presiding chief magistrate later adjourned the matter to 25th of May, 2022 for DPP’s advice.
Speaking to journalists after the court sitting, the complainant and Chairman of Yoruba Community in Bonny said what the group wanted from the matter was justice and added that the accused persons and their gang members were hounding members of the association in Bonny.
He said most of them had relocated their families from Bonny to Port Harcourt because of various threats to life by the groups operating in Bonny Local Government Area and urged the state government and Bonny Local Government Council to ensure that those cult gang groups operating in the area were dislodged.
By: Amadi Akujobi
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