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By Kabir Alabi Garba
09 November 2016   |   4:39 am
Two events gave distinctive colour to the grand award ceremony of Life In My City Art Festival (LIMCAF) held last weekend in Enugu. It was first time in 10 years ...
Governor of Enugu State (third from left) with Oba Otudeko (third from right), Urum Kalu Eke of First Bank Plc; Elder K.U. Kalu; Chief Loretta Aniagolu and Ifeoma Agada-Igboji at the grand finale of LIMCAF 2016

Governor of Enugu State (third from left) with Oba Otudeko (third from right), Urum Kalu Eke of First Bank Plc; Elder K.U. Kalu; Chief Loretta Aniagolu and Ifeoma Agada-Igboji at the grand finale of LIMCAF 2016

Two events gave distinctive colour to the grand award ceremony of Life In My City Art Festival (LIMCAF) held last weekend in Enugu. It was first time in 10 years that a sitting governor of the state would grace the occasion. Also, the International Conference Centre of the Institute of Management and Technology, Enugu, hosted the award night.

The event paraded notable personalities such as the Chairman, FBN Holdings, Dr. Oba Otudeko; Managing Director, FBN Holding, Mr. Urum Kalu Eke; Obi of Onitsha, Igwe Nnaemeka Achebe; Consul-General of France to Nigeria, Mr. Laurent Polonceaux; renowned sculptor, Prof. El Anatsui; Chairman, LIMCAF Board of Trustees, Elder Kalu U Kalu; Prof. Peju Layiwola who chaired the jury among others. Before now, Nike Lake had been traditional home of the grand exhibition and award presentation ceremony.

As chairman of the occasion, Dr. Otudeko commended the handlers of the project for sustaining it thus far despite all odds. He underscored the need to explore art and tourism industry in the bid to diversify the economy.

According to him, a fully developed art industry will not only promote careers and economic empowerment of many young artists and the art and culture industry, but also the prosperity of hoteliers, souvenirs producers and vendors of all kinds of goods and services, including entertainers and other culture workers. He noted that beyond the economic benefits of a developed art industry, there are tremendous socio-cultural benefits that festivals such as LIMCAF can promote.

His words: “LIMCAF is great example of the many prospective areas of growing the economy, and also recreating and consolidating the past through visual history, strengthening cultural understanding and national cohesion.”

He therefore, urged all persons connected with the festival to keep it going, saying, “I see great promise and opportunity in the fact that such a nationally revered and highly exposed traditional ruler as the Obi of Onitsha is Patron of this festival. It represents a most sensible synergy of the ancient and the modern, which can only benefit all undertakings. All areas of activity in our country must consistently be galvanized and synchronized for growth to achieve the overall greatness of our country.”

Otudeko referenced glory and pride that art had brought to Nigeria through the literary exploits of giants such as Prof. Wole Soyinka and the late Prof China Achebe, including the latest efforts of the young generation of writers represented by Chimamanda Adichie among others.

But for LIMCAF to attain its fullest potentials for the benefit of the youth and the country, the finance expert underscored the need for the government and the people of Enugu State to work with the National Gallery of Arts as well as the Federal Ministry of Information and Culture.

He said, “It is no longer news that our fortunes from petro-dollars have diminished significantly, thus presenting a compelling case for us to hurriedly diversify our nation’s revenue base. There are many examples from other parts of the world that indicate that fully developed art and tourism industry has contributed to economic growth and development. For instance, the Louvre Museum and Gallery in Paris, France, hosts over nine million visitors per year.

“Can anyone imagine the economic impact of that? If yes, then can we also imagine the economic possibilities from a fully developed art and tourism industry in Nigeria, which would include festival such as LIMCAF?”

What gladdened the heart of the Patron of the festival, Igwe Nnaemeka Achebe, the Obi of Onitsha was the capacity of the festival’s organising committee devising strategies that have ensured consistency and sustenance of LIMCAF in the last 10 years in spite of challenges. According to the monarch, 10 years of art promoting and sponsorship in Nigeria at this time is not a joke, adding that he was not sure the founder of the festival, Chief Robert Oji knew what the festival would become 10 years on.

Indeed, the Obi of Onitsha cherished the unifying quality of artistic enterprise as it cuts across boundaries and brings forth the best in human creativity. This, he said, is one of the reasons that endeared art to his heart. He, therefore, canvassed the need for art to be supported, especially among the youth. He said, “Art should not be the preserve of the elite but should be made available to all. Art shouldn’t be concentrated in a single location, but spread around as typified by LIMCAF. It should be made affordable and accessible to all. LIMCAF meets all this criteria, hence my support. But on my personal level, I have done the ground breaking of a world class museum in Onitsha, and the museum has endowed a prize at the University of Nigeria, Nsukka. This will be followed in three institutions of art soon,” he noted.

Managing Director, FBN holdings, Mr. Urum Kalu Eke pledged his organization’s continued support while expressing joy that LIMCAF has crossed the Rubicon having existed for one decade. “The festival is here to stay,” he said, adding that the FBN Group will sustain the support is giving LIMCAF which is to empower the youths. He urged the organisers of the festival not to restrict the exhibition of the works to local venues but they should explore other bigger opportunities. This, Eke said is the new challenge, but his firm would be willing to assist in overcoming the challenge.

For the Chairman, LIMCAF Board of Trustees, Elder Kalu, 10 years have been like a ride on roller coaster stretches of good years and not so good years, anxious years and years of devising answers to tricky logistic and funding challenges all of which make it all so worthwhile.

But before the roll call of the winners and presentation of cash prizes and certificates, the head of jury, Prof. Peju Layiwola underscored the rise in the standard of entries for the award this year.

“For the theme, Riches Within, we made our selection from 94 entries from all the geopolitical zones of Nigeria comprising relief sculptures, sculptures in the round, textiles, paintings, photography, installations and ceramics. The criteria used in selecting the winners we’re faithfulness to the theme, creative use of materials and presentations,” said Layiwola.

She, however, observed that some entries were really creatively executed and could have earned higher prizes, but that they did not address the theme. She also noted that in some cases, the titles were the exact opposite of the subject matter.

“We therefore suggest that in subsequent competitions, artists should think of apt and more creative titles, rather than use simplistic ones or produce over flogged themes which we regard as cliches – Fulani milk maid, palm wine tapper, bicycle rider to mention just a few,” she said.

The anxiety and suspense that trailed the assemblage of all the finalists on stage began to fade, as winners of each category of the awards were being announced and presented with their prizes.

Graphic Art graduate of the Institute of Management and Technology, Miss Oyinye Mary Rose Ezennia won the best overall prize of N500,000 through her work entitled, Bleeding Rose, which was a creation from thread, nails on board.

Izundu Lucky’s Faded Pictures won the best in sculpture while Badru Taofeek’s Ile Olora won the best in textile and Oloyede Michael Onyekachukwu’s The Pit of Plenty won the best in painting and mixed media with a cash of N250,000 each.

Other winners were Ayogu Kingsley (Best in experimentation, Enugu zone); Ani Izuchukwu (Vin Marin’s Iloh prize); Ejiofor Samson (Art is everywhere prize); Rashidat Ibrahim (Best entry, Ibadan zone); Ugwu Ifeanyi (French Embassy Young Talent award); Brenda Emmanuel (Most Promising artist – posthumous by Lawrence Agada); John Samuel Nnoron (Justice Aniagolu prize); Ibrahim Afegbua (Bisi Silva’s CCAL prize); Alohan Henry (Thought Pyramid, Abuja zone); Usoro Utobong Emmanuel (Uyo/Calabar zone); and Ilori Samuel (Pius Okigbo prize).