Uzoma Nzeagwu – Awka.
The 4th Anambra Book and creativity festival (ANBUKRAFT) held in Awka, Anambra State was dedicated to the memory of Christopher Okigbo and Uche Okeke. Organized by the Anambra Book and creativity Network, the event featured presentation by prominent artists, educationist, writers, publishers, literacy and art critics, craft makers, actors and poets, as well as exhibition of books, art and crafts.
Awardees at the event included Prof. Benjamin Chukwuma(vice chancellor UNN), Dr Ferdinand Anikwe(DG CBAAC), Prof. Stella C, Okunna (Dean faculty of social sciences, Nnamdi Azikiwe University, Awka.); Greg Mbajiorgu, Tajudeen Sowole (The Guardian Newspapers), Hon Bob-Manuel Udokwu, Moses Ohiomokhare, HRH Igwe A.I, Ofuebe(Ogidiga of Ifite Ogwari), Hon Ifeanyi Aniagoh, Chukwudi Udoye, Chinyere Odinukwe, Chukwudi Ike-Okoye and Titus Aborate.
The Festival Director, Prof Chuu Krydz Ikwuemesi in his speech expressed concernthat Nigerians have lost the reading culture and wastes their time on irrelevant matters. He said successive governments have been toying with education, and have turned it into a humanitarian venture. “You don’t toy with education”. Creative people find themselves in the minority today in Nigeria”, he said. According to him, the country is a barren society and we need art to selvage the society that has been dehumanized by those who should save the people.
In this contribution, Greg Mbajiorgu lamented that with over 150 Professors in theatre arts who are alife today; the theatre is ding in Nigeria. He wondered why nobody can today boast of having a theatre moving around the country like Prod Wole Soyinka did. He pointed out that upon all Soyinka’s contributions in creative arts, he has no Phd. He said “we don’t have to force artists to become scholars and vice versa. William Shakespeare did not go to school, yet he was one of the best writers today.
Presenting his ‘Utilitarian Art of African origin, Tony Akudinobi described it as works reflecting the contemporary African highway. He said they are works reflecting the contemporary African highway which connotes an African working on a highway and on that work, there are cultural bombardments. The chairs displayed,.. the contemporary highway simply connotes how we live and move. Even though we’re living in changing times, we need to change with time. There is a town in Anambra called Abba, and there is a saying that they mould pots but still eat from ‘epekere eju’.
They are mostly pot makers, pottery artist and ceramics artists. But because the application of knowledge has been overtaken by event, they were making pot before which was to preserve water and keep it cool. Some of the pots here are purely decorative and cannot be used to fetch water, hence more expensive than the native pot. One thousand of these pots are a whole lot of money abroad. The reason is simply because you are not expressing knowledge through it, but art and other decorative things, you are expressing Africa.
Akudinuobi who is the chief executive officer, Hammer Head Integrated limited, said, "That is why when you look at those chairs beyond the fact that they are seats; they speak Africa wherever they are. They speak the language and the culture, and that is the work of the contemporary African highway. The pot maker can’t use it to fetch water again. One through this art redefines himself in content and context and move forward like in American & China".
|A Plaque of the ANBUKRAFT Award given to Tajudeen Sowole|
According t him, The materials we use are not different from that of our forefathers. Some of them are firewood. I represented Nigeria during the world expo in Dubai 2009 and I told the emirates, I don’t care, you may have 20 or 100 barrels of oil per square meter, you can’t grow an Iroko tree. But if you go to Owerri, iroko abounds everywhere. These are what we have and pride on. Before, people can’t even make a shirt with African material. But I know someone who lives in England and makes shirt with African Agbada, which makes a whole lot of difference and once the difference is sustained, it becomes a brand.
"Market is everywhere. Many people have not seen these things. So many of these products, carry stories recycled for the future generation to learn from.
If in the nearest future we can produce these things in thousands, don’t you think that all this unemployment could be addressed. The language here is gradually redefining Africa culture. These chairs, though same, but the story is different. If it has three legs, it is Ikenga, which reflects the trinity, and nother one is Ahianano", Akudinuobi noted.