Sunday 10 January 2016

After Hit-And-Run, Artist May 'Never' Walk Again

By Tajudeen Sowole
If artist and mother of three, Bunmi Oyesanya-Ayaoge's state of health does not receive the deserved urgent attention, she may not walk on her feet again. Oyesanya-Ayaoge has been bedridden for almost one year after she was knocked down by what appeared like hit-and-run by a LAGbus in February last year.

Oyesanya-Ayaoge is waiting for help to walk again.
 The artist who had her last solo art exhibition titled Symbiosis at Terra Kulture, Victoria Island, Lagos in 2014 seemed to have been abandoned to her fate by the LAGbus driver and the transport service company as she currently struggles to meet bills for surgeries at National Orthopedics Hospital, Igbobi, Lagos.

 Though currently at home, the artist has been going through pains and financial challenges to continue her treatment at hospital. "I have broken bones and multiple injuries," Oyesanya-Ayaoge narrated her state of despair over phone conversation few days ago. "I can't walk, I can't stand up to paint; my career is on hold."

What was to become a horrendous interruption into Oyesanya-Ayaoge's passion of blending studio career with family challenges started in a night of February when someone alerted her of an oncoming passenger bus. But it was too late for her to make any possible escape from the spot at Benson Bus Stop, in Ikorodu, she recalled.   "The driver sped off after hitting me, without waiting, while I was groaning in pains by the roadside," Oyesanya-Ayaoge said.

 The Accident and Emergency Service of LAGbus Assets Management eventually showed concern, the artist explained. In fact, "they (LAGbus management) promised to pay my hospital bills till I recover from the injuries." But midway into her treatment, LAGbus appeared to have reneged on the agreement. "After few visits to see me in the hospital, they stopped communicating with me." All efforts to get in touch with LAGbus, she disclosed, has been met with "rudeness."

With her two legs still in bandaged and supported by metals, clearly there are still more treatments to be done. Many surgeries, she said, have been prescribed for her to improve the situation. "The problem is I do not know how many surgeries are remaining." Since the accident happened on February 3, 2015, she has "been to the surgeon three times already." The hospital, she explained, "said the surgeries have to come one after the other." 

 While efforts by the writer of this report, via calls to reach Mr Alamu at the Accident and Emergency Department, LAGbus did not yield any response, the community of artists were already coming to Oyesanya-Ayaoge's rescue. A master painter, Abiodun Olaku started the rescue journey by calling on colleagues to swing into action.

Olubunmi Oyesanya-Ayaoge

“Now, Bunmi needs our assistance to walk again, so her life can continue as a gifted artist, a dedicated wife and mother," Olaku posted on his facebook. "For more information on this relief project please continue to watch my Facebook space or contact Abolaji Alaosa on Facebook too."

For over ten months, the effect of being bedridden has been taking its toll on the artist's career.  Her husband, Christopher Ayaoge, according the wife has been doubling as mother and father.

 Oyesanya-Ayaoge has been a consistent career artist and family woman as she reflected this much in exhibitions. Before the 2014 show at Terra Kulture, she had a major  solo outing in 2008 when she showed Artforms at National Museum, Onikan, Lagos. She explained the six years-break during her last solo:“The break was unavoidable; taking care of the family front is as important as creating art,” she argued. Six years is not exactly long, but in art it could me a huge gap between the artist and the art. “I was never cut off from the art during the six years,” she quipped. Her works have been featured in several group exhibitions just as “I always worked at home, squeezing out time from the children to sketch and paint.”

 The artist has a passion for feminism, which must have been influenced by her first contact with the public when, In 2001, she made her debut in a group show tiled Feminine Touch, at the National Gallery of Art (NGA) Iganmu, Lagos. It was a year before she bagged her Higher National Diploma (HND) in Fine Art from Auchi Polytechnic, Edo State.

 Oyesanya-Ayaoge has shown her works in group exhibitions titled Spain Through Nigerian Art at the Spanish Embassy, and at Commonwealth Arts and Crafts, Marlborough House, Pall Mall, London, UK, among some of her past outings.

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