Saturday 21 April 2012

Sustaining Wangboje's legacy through art competition

(First published Tuesday, November 04, 2008)             

By Tajudeen Sowole

QUITE a number of activities have been organised in the past in memory of the late art teacher and administrator, Prof. Solomon Wangboje, but an art competition held over the weekend in Lagos might best represent what the man stood for.
  Organised by Wangboje Art Foundation in collaboration with Wangboje Art Gallery, Ikoyi, Lagos, the event, Wangboje Children Art Competition held at the gallery on Saturday, November 1, 2008, had 150 school entries from nine schools participated. Spread over a period of about three months, the competition was strictly for primary school children.

Under the theme, Romance of the Head-Load, four students emerged winners of the three top prizes at the end of the grand finale while seven others got consolatory prizes.

First Prize went to Uchenna Okeke who was in Primary 6 at the Home Science Association Nursery and Primary School, Ikoyi, Lagos when he submitted his work. He is currently in JSS-1 at Daywaterman College, Abeokuta, Ogun State.

Kamara Ihekweme, a Primary-6 pupil of Corona School, Victoria Island, Lagos clinched the second prize while Bola Salami of Home Science and Osahale Ojo of Meado Hall School both emerged as joint Third prize winners.

At the event, Mrs Iwoje Wangboje Eguavoen, shortly before the presentation of prizes, announced that the "first prize winner will get N100, 000; second prize, N50,000 and the third (joint winners) receive N40, 000". Stating that the event is aimed at promoting art appreciation among Nigerian students, Eguavoen said the maiden edition though started with schools in the Lagos and Victoria Islands as well as the Mainland, there is a future plan to spread to other parts of the country.

On children art as the focus of the competition, she said it is in the spirit of late Prof. Wangboje. "Specifically, the organisers of this event are driven by the spirit to sustain the cherished legacy of the late Prof. Wangboje who lived, worked and died 10 years ago for the arts, sowing the seeds of art education in children across the continent. During his days at the University of Benin, Prof. Wangboje's Children Art Workshop was a monumental attractions to most houses in Edo State."

However, the event appeared to offer an opportunity to start building financial discipline in children as the Union Bank's product, Union Kiddies is being used to open account for the winners. Eguavoen said the idea is to encourage financial management and saving culture among the children, noting that parents often spend such money as they take advantage of the children's innocence and ignorance.

Using the event to educate parents and children on the Union Bank Kiddies Account, the Foreshore Towers branch mangers, Uche Obasi said with a minimum of N1, 000.00 an account can be opened, attracting tax free interest and enjoy one percent interest above the prevailing savings rate.

Also, as part of activities marking the 10th year memorial anniversary of Wangboje, a commemorative seminar in his honour was organised by Culture and Creative Art Forum, CCAF with the theme, Wangboje - 10 years after: State of Art Education in Contemporary Nigeria in Lagos recently.

The issue of art education was the focus of the event. One of the resource persons at the occasion, Dr. Kunle Filani, Provost of Federal College of Education, Osiele, Abeokuta, Ogun State in his submission warned that, "we must understand that there is a problem with our art education today."

The school system, he advised, should stop producing ordinary artists, but those who can impart art knowledge as well as contribute to the technological growth of the nation working in such areas as engineering, architecture, among others.

On the art education legacy of Wanbgoje, another speaker, Dr. Peju Layiwola of the Creative Department, University of Lagos, UNILAG, revisited her mentor's administrative activities. She said: "He elevated the art school of UNIBEN by bringing his American friends to the school; established jewelry and metal design units; tapped into the traditional casting environment and brought them to the school to teach students. Today, the standard in Benin art school has dropped."

Perhaps the new initiative of the Wangboje Children Art Competition under the leadership of his daughter, Eguavoen could help bring back art education. She assured that "it is going to be an annual event."

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