Akhogba in exposition of Esan treasures
Determined to preserve the rich cultural heritage of Esan people, renowned arts education scholar, Dr. Albert Ehi Akhogba, has unveiled the first ever solo show in Esan land tagged, Exposition of Esan Treasures. Akhogba said there are principles synonymous with art education, which distinguishes it from other areas of arts.
According to him, “in the absence of written records, traditional art forms such as, artefacts, symbolic objects, oral traditions, festivals, ceremonies, dance, wood carving, story telling, beads making, metal works and regalia form a veritable medium through which non-literate Esan visually communicate with the unborn, the living and the ancestors, as well as preserve their cultural heritage.”
The scholar, who noted that the Esan people are very sophisticated in artistic forms with diverse styles developed from creative manipulations of culture, time and practices, said it is a tradition and cultural legacy that the people still hold sacrosanct in the face of modern civilisation. He said traditional artists in Esan land produce works that are unique and have socio-cultural impact and philosophical background. To him, these objectives determine whether the materials are worth visual documentation.
Emphasising the need to show the world that Esan traditional art forms, ideas and materials are significant and have potentials for communication, the fine and applied arts teacher at the Ambrose Alli University (AAU) said the show is a reportage of his research on the impact of traditional art forms, ideas and materials on the coronation of Enijie in Esanland.
Akhogba said, “these traditional art forms, ideas and materials (Esan Treasures) speak volume, as well as create lasting memories.”
He said the Esan artistic ethos are facing extinction or disappearing from the minds of people, because they are not given enough attention. It is within this context that this show is holding to fill the gap.
“In this connection, it would also sustain economic development, strengthen Esan historical events, enhance National Museum, create awareness for job opportunities and appreciation of artworks. It is also meant for wealth creation and revitalisation of our cultural heritage so that it is not eroded by western culture.”
Extolling the rich cultural heritage of the Esan people, and the works of the artist, Curator of the National Gallery of Art, Benin City, Mr. Obuezzar Owolabi, said Esan culture is one of the major one within the Benin Kingdom usually referred to as the Edo people in general.
Commending Akhogba, Prof. Anthony Okoduwa of the Department of History, Ambrose Alli University (AAU) and Prof. Efemena Ononeme, Department of Fine and Applied Arts, University of Benin (UNIBEN), noted that Akhogba is blazing a trail in an attempt to open up the art profiles of Esan people that could be found in historical antiquity.
While saying the modest approach seeks to reinterpret goals, issues and principles of art education as it applies to the Esan people, Okoduwa described Akhogba as a man who believes in the past, present and future that are synchronised.“He is proving himself as a dedicated son of Esan who is interested in the expansion of Esan cherished cultural heritage,” Okoduwa said. Ononeme said the scholarly works and art show are to artistically visualize and document the Esan cherished cultural heritage for posterity.
The show attracted the Edo State Commissioner for Arts, Culture, Tourism and Diaspora Affairs, Mr. Osaze Osewingie-Ero, and his counterpart in the ministry of Wealth Creation, Investment and Employment, Barr. Emmanuel Usoh as well as the Chairman of Esan West Local Council, Mr. Patrick Aguinede, who extolled the qualities of Esan people and their rich cultural heritage.
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