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‘A society without art is one without heart’


Project Director, Foluke Michael (middle) with the schoolgirls at the exhibition

In a bid to aid the United Nations’ drive for the attainment of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by the year 2030, 17 schoolgirls drawn from 17 schools in Lagos State recently put their creative skills to use through drawing.

It was organised by child-centred Vision of the Child (VoTC) initiative of the Creative Youth Community Development Initiative (CYCDI), led by Foluke Michael.

CYCDI was in partnership with the Consulate General, Federal Republic of Germany, Robert Bosch Nigeria, the European Union an the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime to launch a project, CCB-Art for SDGs.

Tagged, ‘Change-makers,’ the girls exhibited their art works, which variously depicted the menace of drug abuse as it affects the actualisation of the sustainable goals. They thereby used their art to offer ‘solution seventeen’ to curbing the menace.

The exhibition, which held at Children International School, Lekki, Lagos, had in attendance Nobel laureate, Professor Wole Soyinka, Consul-General of German in Nigeria, Dr. Stefan Traumann, Nollywood actor and World Health Innovation Summit global ambassador, Eddie Watson, and a representative of Managing Director, Robert Bosch Nigeria, Mr. Ghislain Noumbessy.

The event also served as an avenue, where the distinguished guests reinstated the need for Nigeria to work towards meeting the 17 SDGs of which the 17 girls were representative.

The students consequently used the tool of SDGS to produce 17 artworks, which illustrate their comprehension of drug related issues that are of concern to young people in Nigeria as well as offer their solutions to the problems.

While declaring the exhibition open, the German Consul-General remarked on the importance of partnership in the fight against drug abuse while also maintaining that with half of Nigeria’s population below 25 years it was imperative that attention should be given to education.

“Half of Nigeria’s population is below 25,” Traumann said. “We need to support them and education is important part of that. That is why this project is important. We need to fight together, and we need to be creative in fighting. That’s why this project will go a long way to attacking the topic (drug abuse).”

Also principal of the school and event host, Dr. Adam England, highlighted the need to place premium on the arts in the country and the expediency of supporting creativity, which was on display through the works of the girls that exhibited.

He remarked, “Art is a reflection of our culture, and when art is wrong and when we’ve got a society without art then we have got a society without heart. No art, no heart. That’s why if we are to get Africa right, those pictures are very much representative of how we have to get it right.”

Project Director of VoTC, Foluke Michael, lamented that Nigeria was lagging behind in attaining the sustainable development goals, which will lapse in 2030. She consequently called for more efforts in attaining them.

“In Nigeria we are so backward in fulfilling these goals and if we don’t join hands together it will be difficult,” she said. “We feel and believe that by 2030 we should have healthy, prosperous, sustainable and just world. It is a dream; even United Nations knows that it is such a big dream. It means that everybody must do something in order to meet these goals.”

She also praised the zeal of the schoolgirls whom she revealed were now being recognised globally for their feat.

“These 17 change makers are being recognised globally because they have one voice to build a new world,” she continued. “Just about a few weeks ago, we were asked by the UN to come up with write-ups about what they have done and how they can impact not only Nigeria but all over Africa. Their faces will be all over Africa and they will be impacting their generation.”

A drug abuse sensitisation movie titled Trapped, which Michael said has been adopted by the United Nations, was also shown at the project launch. The movie featured some of the ‘change-makers’ as cast members.

There were also two panel sessions after the exhibition, wherein the change-makers spoke individually about their works and the solutions they were offering to curb the drug ‘monster’ among young people.

Soyinka, meanwhile, congratulated the organiser and the girls for their achievements and also urged them to continue in their works, noting, “I congratulated you for your enthusiasm and for your increasingly sharpened creativity.”

The event also marked the official launch of World Health Innovation Summit in Nigeria and its global ambassador, Watson, spoke about its activities in empowering communities whilst also creating impact and values.

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