The trend in the developing world now is the issue of tourism. The agenda is on the table of nearly every leader in the Third World. Some have made progress in that regard while some like Nigeria are just beginning. In pursuance of this agenda, the Nigerian government in 2006 held the Abuja Cultural Carnival to sell the colourful cultural spectrum of the nation.
Long before the Abuja carnival, the people of the Irigwe Chiefdom in Bassa Local Government Area of Plateau State have had a cultural carnival on the first day of every year since 1962. On that day, Irigwe sons and daughters from all over the world come home to Kwall and Miango towns to be part of the carnival that launches the New Year.
Irigwe dance groups from within and outside the land come prepared to join the cultural procession which is held at selected arenas in the two towns. Every dance group takes its turn to dance to the high table of the ‘Bra Ngwe’ and his dignitaries from not just Irigwe land but also friends and well-wishers from the whole nation and beyond. Before him, they dance and pay their respect before clearing for the next group.
The Irigwe dance is among one of the finest in Plateau State which was why a cultural dance group was part of General Gowon’s delegation to Germany during his time as the Head of State in the 70s. Furthermore, a large number of those who travel to Irigwe land on every first day of a New Year come from other ethnic groups within the country thus attesting to the tourist appeal of the carnival.
Foreign missionaries from the Kent Academy in Miango are never left out as the move down to the venue of the carnival with assorted recording devices to catch and preserve the flash points of the bliss. This they later take to their countries mainly the US and Canada. The annual event is thus one of the gorgeous cultural assets that can play a big role in pushing Plateau tourism to the international stage.
As has often been said, roads play a very vital role in the development of any community. The road leading to Irigwe land was constructed in the 1970s by Group Captain Dan Suleiman. Since then, it has not received any attention from subsequent governments. While travelling to Miango and Kwall you get the impression that the road was never tarred save for pockets of tar patches here and there. The dryness of January ensures that dust gets one messed up thereby defeating the goal of a pleasure trip.
The arenas hosting the carnival at Kwall and Miango are also dusty primary school playgrounds. Hence the rumpus of the carnival also stirs dust to mess up everybody who is there.
Anybody that once had the opportunity of visiting Miango or Kwall for the sake of the celebration will attest to the fact that if your are not at the dance arena your are usually lost as to what to do.
Driving along a beautifully constructed road is, in itself, a source of pleasure. Even the sight of a jalopy carrying agricultural goods on such a road is also another attraction that will tempt you to bring out your camera. A modernize arena built to certain standards for the sake of hosting such a carnival is not too ambitious for a State that wants to attract tourists, and recreational parks for those who simply want to be part of the multitude that usually throng into these two towns, will create a quintessential picture of a tourist delight.
Kwall and Miango are on two sides of a river but the expanse of land that stretches from the Miango side across the river to Kwall has been bought for the purposes of building the Nigerian film village. If the road linking these two communities to the rest of the world is reconstructed, it will no doubt serve as a catalyst for the development of the film village. The presence of the film village and the tourist show will trigger a conflagration of development that has never been recorded in the history of Plateau State.