Thursday, December 5, 2013
Olusola unddying love for art
Olusola’s undying love for art Ozolua UHAKHEME in Life (Midweek Magazine) November 6, 2013 What are the precious items in the late Ambassador Segun Olusola’s home? A flat screen television, luxury car, air conditioner and gold wrist watch? Sorry, you guessed wrong. Take a trip to the newly inaugurated resource library at the centre for Black and African Arts and Civilisation’s Headquarters on Broad Street in Lagos and see what caught the late art connoiseur’s fancy. Assitant Editor(Arts) Ozolua Uhakheme reports Except for the absence of furniture such as bed, table and chairs, the medium-size room could have passed for one of the rooms in the late Chief Segun Olusola’s home. Among personal effects in the room are plaques, ward robe consisting of several traditional dresses (aso-oke), book shelf, ayo game, miniature talking drums, paintings and a 1990 large-size portraiture of Chief Olusola done by Ethiopian artist, Lemma Guya. At the centre of the room is a scary leopard statue, which poses in readiness to pounce on its prey. These are some of the personal effects left behind by the late Olusola for keeps as legacies. Welcome to Ambassador Segun Olusola Resource Library, on the ground floor of the Centre for Black and African Arts and Civilisation (CBAAC) in Lagos. Last Thursday, CBAAC held a twin event- a memorial lecture and the inauguration of a library to immortalise the former Nigeria’s Ambassador to Ethiopia and founder African Refugees Foundation (AREF). Venue was the conference room, Freedom Park, Broad Street, Lagos. A short drama sketch led by Hafiz Oyetoro aka Saka (a prominent actor in the MTN portability advert) spiced the occasion that was chaired by former Minster for National Planning, Chief Rasheed Gbadamosi. Before the guest lecturer, Dr. Kunle Filani spoke on Leveraging on indigenous African culture and artistic creativity for development: legacies of Ambassador Segun Olusola, it was rain of tributes from guests. Tourism, Culture and National Orientation Minister, Chief Edem Duke described the late Olusoal as a man of many parts, saying that a dissection of his legacies shows that he meant different things to many people. “This is because the positive impacts he made while he was alive. Most Nigerians know him as the brain behind one of the most enduring television drama prograamme in Nigeria’s history: The Village Headmaster. Within the culture sector which I oversee, late Ambassador Olusola would be remembered as a diplomat that promoted the use of culture to facilitate and strengthen interactions among countries in Africa,” he said. The director-general of CBAAC, Prof Tunde Babawale said that the decision to immortalise the great African is to encourage both young and old to bequeath worthy legacies to posterity. He described the late ace broadcaster as a true hero of our land who deserves to be celebrated. “We believe that organising events of this nature would make many of our compatriots know that those who lead by worthy examples will always be celebrated even in death. Today’s event is also informed by the need for those of us left behind to decide how our epitaph will look like before the inevitability of death and what we wish to be remembered for,” Babawale said. He noted that unequivocally, late Olusola would be remembered for his impactful touch on many areas of African arts and culture. Among those present on the occasion were Tourism, Culture and National Orientation Minister, Chief Edem Duke, represented by Seyi Womiloju, Chairman, CBAAC, Senator Brimmo Yusuf, Chief Executive Officer of AREF, Mr. Jimi Olusola, Chief Tunde Oloyede, Mr. Dejumo Lewis, Cultural Affairs Officer, US Consulate, Lagos, Mrs. Bene Uche, Executive Director, The News/PM News, Mr Kunle Ajibade, Mrs Jimi Olusola, Chairman, Equity Assurance, Chief Tutu Buraimoh, Vice-Chairman, Mutual Benefit Assurance, Mr Akin Opeodu,Chairman NANTAP Lagos, Mrs Eki Eboigbe, Dr. Ademola Azeez, and chairman of Society of Nigerian Artists (Lagos State chapter), Mr Alabi Dotun. Guest speaker, Dr. Kunle Filani described the late Olusola as a man of measured taste and disposition, adding that temperance was a virtue he deployed in diplomatic missions and his oratorical eloquence stood him out in public debates. “He became a soothing patriarch to the dispossessed when he founded the African Refugees Foundation (AREF) in Nigeria. He also founded the Ajibulu Moniya Gallery to serve as support for the growing artistic activity in Nigeria,” he added. Continuing, he said: “Ambassador Segun Olusola was a polished and decent elder statesman; he was intelligent and talked with compelling convictions. His style of enunciation in speaking and his gestural emphasis evinced rhetoric. He was indeed a hero of African culture because he possessed and elicited characteristics that are highly prized in indigenous tradition. There is no better way to celebrate this true elder statesman than using his exemplary creativity and leadership to interrogate indigenous African arts and culture thereby suggesting strategies for national development.” In his paper, Leveraging on indigenous African culture and artistic creativity for development: legacies of Ambassador Segun Olusola, Filani said African countries must initiate mutual bonds of integration through culture and the 21st century should launch Africa as a continent into unique civilisation through proper culturalisation concepts. He said that African leaders cannot afford to underestimate the relevance of culture for national development, stressing that Africa must look inwards to tap her rich cultural resources by harnessing the potentials of indigenous science and technology. He noted that Western science and technology are not the only means of accessing civilisation and quality living. He said alternative indigenous methods must be further explored and made suitable for contemporary consumption. “African leaders must inculcate culture into development initiatives fashioned by interactive organisations such as African Union and NEPAD. Government must begin to implement UNESCO recommendations on culture and education. Government must implement cultural policies by effectively funding and empowering relevant ministries and parastatals. “Concerted efforts must be made by top government organisations to sensitise and encourage non-governmental and individual participation in culture development,” he added. Filani lamented that it is unfortunate that Nigeria does not have befitting national museums and galleries. This, he said, must be urgently attended to not only to preserve and conserve our cultural heritage, but also to serve as revenue generating organs through dynamic tourism policy. He charged economically viable states to bring mega-tourist monuments to accommodate cultural and modern creative structures. “Lagos State especially with her huge population and diverse economic potentials must lead the tourist initiative. Many African countries not endowed than Nigeria have huge cultural monuments to celebrate their origins, visions and heroes. For example, the Dakar bronze sculpture African Renaissance monument is a 49 metres tall bronze statue with expanded environment that accommodates varieties of cultural activities. It is sad that in spite of Nigeria’s strategic position in Africa, there are no befitting and well developed monuments and parks in our cities,” he lamented. He noted that African leaders must create dynamic economic and communication linkages in the regions and sub-regions, as Africa can explore cultural affinities for social, political and economic development. “It is certain that the deficits in political, educational, economic and social leadership can be addressed by embracing the dynamics of African culture concepts. Nigeria as the most populous country in Africa with the largest Black inhabitants in the world must take the lead in championing socio-economic and political liberation from the shackles of imperialism and neo-colonialism. This can only be done through cultural awareness of independent African countries and cultural integration of seemingly disparate states. For Africa to have a future, our present must creatively interrogate and engage the past,” he said.