Bole Festival 2019 Review: How Port Harcourt people are getting over CARNIRIV.

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By John Kpoobari Diidi

The 2019 Bole Festival tagged “our taste, our culture” which held at the Obiwali Cultural Center, on Saturday the 3rd of August 2018 was one event that showed that Port Harcourt people have now gotten an event to replace the erstwhile CARNIRIV.

Well, those who missed the event have been given a second chance by the review here on theportcitynews.com.

Bole is the umbrella term for a meal of roasted plantain, yam and fish with special sauce, and it is unarguably, the number one street food that a visitor would notice first upon entry into Port Harcourt.

Bole has equally refused every attempt to package it as that would distort its street credibility. The king of street foods has refused to be tamed come what may.

The meal has become so synonymous with the city that an idea like the Bole Festival became the biggest event in the city and something everyone craved for as part of the desire to create a new brand for the thriving city.

That is why I was excited to be part of the event and had to travel from outside the state to grace the third edition, which has become unique and quite symbolic.

I got to the Obi Wali cultural centre at about 4 PM with a friend and I got the shocker of my life. The crowd at the gate was massive, and it took me about 30 minutes to struggle through the crowd and get my ticket for a thousand five hundred Naira, and push my way into the venue, with a near stampede scenario almost playing out. This time there was no free beer.

Touring through the stands, I noticed that the quality of vendors where not as it was last year, which made me disappointed. But that didn’t still deter me to move to a Bole stand to get our delicacy for a friend who was attending the event for the first time.

Ese Okorare the Big guy, was present to ensure that beer and flesh were available to enjoy and keep body and soul together.

The event which wasn’t just about the food created an avenue for networking, observation of new trends, hairstyles, clothes, body structure, and general appreciation of life.

I met some friends at the event whom I hadn’t seen in a while, and also met some Facebook friends for the first time physically e.g Best Bonn Robbin Hood.

Also, I observed that the new dress culture among young Port Harcourt women, who have eradicated the very idea of putting on braziers and allowing their breasts dangle freely, is something to has come to stay for a long time in the city.

The Chief of staff to the Rivers State Governor, Chief Emeka Woke was also present at the event, I think to have an on the spot assessment of the event which has gained wild publicity in the state. An indicator that the state Government are thinking of buying into the idea.

The crowd was massive, people came out in their summer attires to have fun irrespective of their religious and political affiliation.

The attendance also laid to rest the notion that Port Harcourt people do not appreciate creative events, as the organisers definitely smiled to the bank.

This time the presence of Access Bank as a corporate sponsor, was a fulfilment of my last year prophecy that the idea is now a sellable one.

The crowd which was two times that of last year, certainly overpowered the organizers, as this year’s organization wasn’t top-notch.

For those who lived in Port Harcourt Pre 2015, the CARNIRIV event was one epoch event that united every Rivers person, both indigenes and non-indigenes and made the city lively, with different displays from cultural dance groups and top-class entertainment from both Port Harcourt based and Lagos artists.

I don’t blame the organizers that much, because Port Harcourt people who have been starved of this kind of entertaining event, since the end of the CARNIRIV, have now come to the agreement to using the #BOLEFESTIVAL as a replacement.

And on Saturday, Port Harcourt people made it obvious that the event had outgrown a festival to become a Carnival. Thus there needs to be a repackaging, from the choice of venue to the overall organizational structure of the Bole festival, something I think the present Rivers State Government can help become a reality by Sponsoring the event.

Aside from the near stampede situation at the gate which almost marred the event, I was happy that once again Port Harcourt people were able to comport themselves in a civilized manner.