The well-decorated Ajose Adeogun Street on Victoria Island, Lagos, came alive in a different form penultimate Sunday. People dressed in red, white and green-coloured props lit up the decorated street. It was an interesting sight to behold.
It might be unusual for the street to be barricaded on a Sunday morning, yet residents of the posh neighbourhood are used to such at the end of the year. It’s the yearly Zenith Bank’s end-of-year youth street party. This year’s edition was tagged ‘Build the youth, build the nation’. As early as 9am, staff, school pupils, the young and old decked in red-coloured T-shirts with the bank’s logo boldly emblazoned on them lined up, raising high their schools’ banners for the commencement of a spectacular yearly carnival.
The event was kicked off by two renditions of the national anthem by the students of Baptist Boys’ High School. By noon, the festival fully commenced after the bank’s current managing director, Godwin Emefiele, declared it open.
Emefiele welcomed all the participating schools to the eighth edition of a carnival started by the former managing director, Jim Ovia.
“The signals we have received are that the carnival is accepted by everyone. In order to ensure that we make the youth happy, we will continue the event every year as it is part of our corporate social responsibility,” he said.
The managing director further explained that the carnival was in partnership with the youths and the old who work in the bank so that both groups could interact and draw inspiration from one another.
“The carnival is a partnership between the youths and adults,” he stated. “It is for the youths to draw inspiration from the adults. They can aspire to be the bankers and prepare themselves for it.”
Ovia, who initiated the yearly carnival, said: “At Zenith Bank, we believe that the youths are the foundation of society and constitute our real hope for a great future. Their energy, vitality, character, creative talents and orientation define the pace of progress from which we find motivation and aspirations on an assured future.”
Later, Emefiele with some children and key members of the bank’s board led the carnival to the end of Ajose Adeogun. Of course, Basketmouth, the comedian, was on hand to cheer up and introduce each participating school as the parade moved on. Some of the participating schools were Adrao International School, Christland School, Christ the King International School, Grace High School, among others.
Earlier, there was a dance competition amongst children in different age groups with the winners going home with tablets.
The carnival did not just end with a parade along Ajose Adeogun to Adetokunbo Ademola Street; there was also a rich display of dance performances by the different cultural groups. Nearly all the ethnic groups were represented – Yoruba, Benin, Hausa, Igbo, Efik, Ibibio, among others. Football jugglers and Agere masquerades were not left out.
“I always look forward to the carnival every year,” said a student of Adrao International School. “It is a carnival that sets the right mood for the season. I like it so much.”
Another participant, a pupil of Grace High School, said he was thrilled by the bright colours of the carnival train. “Red is my favourite colour. A combination of white and red makes the carnival colourful. Hence, I look forward to another Christmas so that I can be a part of this again,” he said.
By: FUNKE OSAE-BROWN