Unical Blazes Trail in Carnival Studies

-Unical Blazes Trail in Carnival Studies-
University of Calabar (Unical) has blazed a trail as the first University in Africa to offer a degree programme in carnival studies. This was disclosed yesterday by Dr (Mrs) Brenda Akpan, Head of the University’s Department of Theatre and Media Studies, when the 1991 class of Theatre Arts graduates paid a courtesy visit to the department.

The Head of Department told the class that the Department of Theatre and Media Studies plays a major role in sustaining the Calabar Carnival and in replicating similar carnivals in other states of Nigeria. She said:

“Calabar Carnival is one that you cannot put aside. You cannot talk about carnivals in this country without mentioning Calabar Carnival. In fact they take us to go and build carnivals in other states.

Our staff form the foundation of carnival workability in other states. Management in its wisdom decided that we have not had Film studies fully. We were teaching it. But it was not in our nomenclature. So, they decided that we should have Theatre, Film and Carnival Studies. It is the first in Africa. There is no other university in Africa that is offering carnival studies”.


Dr (Mrs) Brenda Akpan, Head of the Department of Theatre and Media Studies, University of Calabar.

Dr (Mrs) Akpan stated that the Media perspective of Theatre Arts has been moved to a newly established Department of Mass Communication which would resume in January, just like the Department of Theatre, Film and Carnival Studies.

She said that her department is moving in “leaps and bounds” as exemplified in its collaboration with the Notting Hill Carnival in the United Kingdom and in its rebranding of the University of Calabar Performing Company (UCPC). According to her, UCPC is now a well packaged entity that has administrative officers, computer operators and a Public Relations Officer, along with the usual professional dancers.

The Department of Theatre and Media Studies was simply known as “Department of Theatre Arts” when the 1991 class of graduates were students of Unical. It was sited at the main campus of the university, at that time.

Dr (Mrs) Akpan expressed joy at the visit of members of this class, describing them as ambassadors of her department. She urged them to serve as mentors of her students, saying:

“This mentorship is what is practiced outside here. It makes the work of the department easier because you go out of the university as ambassadors and you bring back your level of expertise to those in the department. It helps them to make their choices. They take decisions based on what they have seen…. I believe in the role of the alumni…. As an ex student, you can react to issues in the institution. You are part and parcel of your university, even beyond your stay in your department. That is what we should do.”

Dr (Mrs) Brenda Akpan (seated second from left) with some members of Unical’s 1991 class of Theatre Arts graduates. Others are: Dr (Mrs) Chichi Ojeme (seated extreme left), Hon Eteng Jones Williams (seated), Dr (Mrs) Nancy Irek (seated right). Standing from right: Henry Anyanwu, Victor Necus-Agba, Lilian Agwu, Ubong Bassey Nya, Yvonne John, Cornelius Ellah, Mary Jane Onochie-Nworgu and Chibuzor Iheagwam.

Dr (Mrs) Brenda Akpan was the first National President of National Association of Women Journalists (NAWOJ) in Nigeria. She is also the first female Head of Department of Theatre and Media Studies in the University of Calabar.

Responding to the Head of Department’s message, Dr (Mrs) Chichi Ochei Ojeme, spokesperson of the 1991 class of Theatre Arts graduates, said:

“This courtesy call to our beloved department is part of our corporate journey back in time to the place where our dreams were formed, our aspirations fanned and our hopes received substance”.

She acknowledged the role of collaboration and mentoring in every successful endeavour, adding that:

“You can never be an island. It is not possible. You need to network. Not just engaging negatively, you need to impart positively. All of us in our various areas of responsibility have mentees…. Individually, we have been doing things. But I think that this reunion calls for us to come together. There is strength in numbers. We can only do so much as individuals. So, we need to pull our strengths as a class. We need to stand in the place of support”.

She enjoined the department to work towards using her strengths in carnival studies to create wealth for the department and for the University of Calabar.

The courtesy visit featured presentation of gift items to Dr (Mrs) Brenda Akpan and to the Department of Theatre and Media Studies. The event was graced by some Lecturers of that Department as well as the Head of Department of Linguistics and the Sub Dean of Faculty of Arts, respectively.

Meanwhile, the reunion of 1991 class of Theatre Arts graduates continues today with a city tour of Calabar Metropolis and other events. Members of that class include seasoned movie producers/directors, famous actors and actresses, university lecturers, journalists, prominent politicians, consultants on security matters, nutritionists and others. 46 students graduated from that class.

  • Cornelius Ellah
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Please See Related Post: (In Pictures) Former Classmates Reunite after 26 Years

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