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Nigeria At 50: A Generational Statement Arts Review

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Nigeria is indeed a country of heterogeneous ideas and visions. This explains the reason behind the cacophony of voices that trail the humongous  N10 billion, now reduced to N6.5 billion, budgetted for Nigeria’s 50th independence anniversary. While many Nigerians rail at the amount, some others see the commemmoration of the nation’s golden jubilee as a long-awaited opportunity to celebrate Nigeria’s 50 years of political independence, and square with some other African countries like Ghana, Senegal and Cameroun.  

 The Thought Pyramid Art Gallery owned by Jeff Ajueshi  is one of those who share the optimistic view.  In preparation  for this, it has assembled a variety  of captivating  art works from seasoned artists to project Nigeria’s image in visual representation to the whole world.                   The art centre located in Wuse 11 Abuja   recently held an exhibition of the art works which captured some of the political and socio-economic happenings in Nigeria since independence.

  Mufu Onifade, one of the 50 exhibiting artists takes a look at  the one -week event which took place in Abuja last week. The exhibition cannot be better  described than a generational statement. He writes:

From now till the end of the year and probably beyond, various artistic nay cultural celebrations would bubble up the space, at various venues across the country. But more importantly, the visual art sub-sector is expected to chronicle the country’s social, economic and political experiences in visual form; and this is one of the thrusts of  the exhibiting show titled Generational Statement. This long-awaited 50th anniversary of independent nationhood exudes a multitude of celebrations, which cuts accross all strata of the society. As a nation of multi-cultural diversity and surplus natural resources, Nigeria is reputed to be practically flowing with milk and honey. These are  visible in some of the creations packaged ready for public consmption.

Since 1960 when she got her independence from colonial masters, Nigeria has constantly and delicately operated as a nation in transition, even among the comity of other nations. Her post-colonial period has brought on her people from various shades of inconsequential imbroglio ranging from politics to enonomics.

The civil war, the recurrent coups and counter-coups, the internal strife and different shades of struggles among her people of many nationalities are characteristic of experiences culminated in the modern day nascent democracy. Such experiences  visually recorded in various media were on display.

In view  of prevailing circumstances, the visual art sub-sector, which has been constantly constrained to the lower ebb of food chain, has, within the purview of robust cultural development, provided unequalled succour to both the nation and her numerous immigrants and visitors. The richness of Nigeria’s aesthetic legacies is re-embossed in the variety and diversity of creative outputs engendered by flourishing generations of Nigerian artists.

Ever since Aina Onabolu, the doyen of Nigerian art took the bull by the horn and transplanted visual arts into the school curriculum in Nigeria, academic training has combined effectively with informal training to produce a profoundly rich sub-sector. By extension, various generations from that era through to the era of the modernist artist, Ben Enwonwu to this contemporary times, have engraved their impressions on the artistic sand of time.

That the Thought Pyramid Art Gallery, Abuja founded and run by its curator, Jeff Ajueshi, has generously assembled an astonishing variety of art works from seasoned practitioners for a commemorative exhibition titled Generational Statement is a bold statement on the volume of creative products on the Nigeria’s creatively fertile soil.

As Ajueshi proudly, but succinctly puts it, this one-of-its-kind show “ parades accomplished artists whose works are capable of telling the story of Nigeria from different perspectives of themes, mediums and aesthetics”. These works, as he explains further, are captured in exquisite paintings and sculptures rendered in an array of mediums and concepts. The exhibition  also addressed “recreation, pre, post, and neo-post freedom of the Nigerian essence” while not losing sight of attracting expressive visual art forms and scholarly critique and commentaries on Nigerian art.

Bruce Onobrakpeya, in recognition of his masterful antecedence and historical relevance to contemporary Nigerian art, was selected as Guest Artist for the show. His catalystic approach to art development is more than enough qualification to play this noble role in the midst of other 50 exhibiting artists including Ben Osawe, Sam Ovraiti, Duke Asidere, Bob Aiwerioba, Enotie Ogbebor, Sam Ebohon and Mufu Onifade. Others are Donald Onuoha, Ogaga Tuodeinye, Rotimi Akinere, Tony Enebeli, Toni Oshiame, Ayodeji Agboola, Nelson Edewor,  Raji Olanrewaju, Ajibade Awoyemi, Ola Balogun, Suraju Adekola, Stanley Dudu, Chukz Okonkwo,Tolu Aliki, Emmanuel Dudu, Ada Godspower, Olumide Oresegun, Klara Nze, lyke Okeyin , Uche Onyishi, Francis Umoh and Stanley Agbontaen.

Chinedu Onuigbo, Moses Zibor, Nelson Okoh, Frank Beli, Joe Essien, Tyna Adebowale, Prosper Akeni, Emmanuel Ozugwo, Babalola Lawson and lke Francis also joined Chike Obieagu, Bob Nosa Uwagboe, George Edozie, Victoria Udoidian, Olufemi Kayo, Oyerinde Olotu, Oviri Aleric, Uche Uzorka, Aldophus Opara, Tom Sater and Godswill Ayemoba to make the show padded with unassuming creativity. These artists are representative of a cross section of generations of contemporary Nigerian artists and their diverse works speak volume about the Nigerian identity in visual form.

Thought Pyramid is one of the few galleries holding the forte in a credible manner in Abuja. It is named after the iconic postulations of one of Nigeria’s political giants, Mallam Aminu Kano whose composite image in the country’s socio-political consciousness, “his unblinking patriotism, his positive iconoclacism, his enlightenment and fervent desire for a strong, united and prosperous nation, through ventilation of progressive and execution of ideals for a respectable visibility in the comity of nations”, are reminiscent of his unequalled legacies.

According to Ajueshi, “At the Thought Pyramid Art Gallery, these qualities and aspirations (for the nation) are shared with the late great patriot”. As a gallery in the promotion of visual arts and culture and the inalienable magic mirror of the sector, the Thought Pyramid goes further to serve as a public space for the singular vision and creativity of thinking heads that create the arts.

As an art centre with untainted world class consciousness, it tells the stories through research, documentation and publication, while, in practical terms, promoting art through exhibitions and providing marketing opportunities within a space conducive for art collectors to comfortably view and acquire rare art works from the nation’s capital city.

All efforts are geared towards the promotion of Nigerian art and culture and one hereby hopes that as Nigeria prepares for her 50th independence anniversary, all these aspirations and operations will, on the long run, rub off on Generational Statement as an avenue to positively project Nigeria’s image in visual representation to the world at large.

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My Advice To Other Children

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Children are blessings  to their families, they are the joy of mothers because no mother wants to be barren.
When God blesses a man with children, He gives duties and responsibilities to both parents and their children.
First and foremost, children are to obey their parents in the Lord for this is right. And also honour their father and mother and people in the society, school and church.
Children are expected to perform their duties to their parents  by helping them in house chores, running errands for them and accord them respect.
Children should learn to keep away from bad influence in the society and at school because evil communication corrupts good manners.The bible says,” show me your friend and I will tell you who you are”.
As a child, your life is in your hands,you are 100% responsible  for how your life turns out.Therefore, feed your mind with good thoughts about your future. Think big and think well.  You should always strive to be the best person you can be. Never shake a person’s hand while sitting down or using your left hand.
Children should form the habit of reading their books and studying their books rather than  surfing the internet for things that are not edifying, chatting, playing video games and watching different kinds of movies, that is why children, especially teenagers should put a stop to all these activities because the time they use in doing all these at least they might have used it to read books and do well in examinations with flying colours and become  leaders who will lead Nigeria into becoming a better place in the future.

By: Flourish Christopher
Flourish Christopher is a Senior Secondary student of Methodist Girls High School, Harbour Road, Port Harcourt.

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‘Robots Can Be Used To Assess Children’s -Mental Wellbeing’

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Robots can be better at detecting mental wellbeing issues in children than parent-reported or self-reported testing, a new study suggests.
Robots can be better at detecting mental wellbeing issues in children than parent-reported or self-reported testing, a new study suggests.
A team of roboticists, computer scientists and psychiatrists from the University of Cambridge carried out a study with 28 children between the ages of eight and 13, and had a child-sized humanoid robot administer a series of standard psychological questionnaires to assess the mental wellbeing of each participant.
The children were willing to confide in the robot, in some cases sharing information with the robot that they had not yet shared via the standard assessment method of online or in-person questionnaires. This is the first time that robots have been used to assess mental wellbeing in children.
The researchers say that robots could be a useful addition to traditional methods of mental health assessment, although they are not intended to be a substitute for professional mental health support. The results will be presented today (1 September) at the 31st IEEE International Conference on Robot & Human Interactive Communication (RO-MAN) in Naples, Italy.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, home schooling, financial pressures, and isolation from peers and friends impacted the mental health of many children. Even before the pandemic however, anxiety and depression among children in the UK has been on the rise, but the resources and support to address mental wellbeing are severely limited.
Professor Hatice Gunes, who leads the Affective Intelligence and Robotics Laboratory in Cambridge’s Department of Computer Science and Technology, has been studying how socially-assistive robots (SARs) can be used as mental wellbeing ‘coaches’ for adults, but in recent years has also been studying how they may be beneficial to children.
Source: University of Cambridge.

By: Ibinabo Ogolo

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Workshop Participants Task Govt On Adolescents’ Needs

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Young people in Rivers State have urged the government to be more sensitive to their needs by providing enabling environment in the health centres and more enlightenment programmes to curb drug abuse, cultism, violence and other vices in the state.
Speaking in separate interviews to The Tide on the sideline of a workshop Monitoring of Priority/Annual Implementation Plans  of Adolescents organised by the Rivers State Ministry of Health in collaboration with the Federal Ministry of Health and United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) in Port Harcourt  recently, some adolescents who attended the workshop noted that a greater attention to the needs of adolescents and young people will aide societal development.
Mr Okwua Ezekiel stated that the three health facilities at Orogbum, Ozuoba and Mgbudunku that were visited during the adolescent programme had very limited free space and no easy access for young people to receive counselling or treatment since they would want their privacy to be maintained.
Ezekiel, who is a youth champion of the state Ministry of Health  representing Port Harcourt Local Government Area further noted that government should help create adolescent free space in these health centres so that more adolescents will be willing to visit these centres to receive treatment and counselling.
He also noted that the health care providers in these centres should be young, friendly and accommodating unlike the elderly ones who oftentimes are harsh in their attitude towards adolescents, adding that the centres only concentrate  in teenage pregnancy, conception and rape cases, no counselling for drug abuse, cultism and services for their male adolescents and access fee of N800 for card/folder may not be affordable by adolescents.
He however pleaded that government should maintain the building provided for adolescents by the Charlton Adolescent Health Initiative at the Orogbum centre which has been converted to family planning back for adolescent use.Also,rehabilitation centres for male adolescents that are into drug abuse and cultism should be provided nusy like the one for rape cases for female adolescents.
He also tasked government to do more with information dissemination to adolescents in schools, both government and private schools on the consequences and effects of these vices which adolescents indulge in, adding that, government can partner with brand companies, especially during festive seasons to talk to adolescents about these vices.
According to him, “the ministry should concentrate action in the Diobu axis and other sensitive areas of the state that have high rate of cultism and substance abuse among adolescents and youths. Also, the Police should be trained not to abuse adolescents, especially around Mile One area. He noted  that the actions of the Police sometimes drive these young boys into  joining cults”, he said.
Another youth, Miss Catherine Dasosi said that, there is urgent need for government to reduce the incidence of substance abuse by adolescents which is the basis of crime and violence in the state.
Dasosi, who is also a youth champion representing Gokana L.G.A also pleaded with bodies such as the United Nations International Children Emergency Fund (UNICEF) to help the adolescents more by providing funds to reach out to these young ones.
She also noted that, “parents were part of the problem as some don’t  have time for their children, they don’t know how to take care of them or even advise them”.
She also tasked religious bodies to devote more time to educate adolescents in their fold on everything they need to know, including sex education.
Dasosi, however expressed satisfaction with what the state Ministry of Health was doing concerning adolescents, though they need to do more to help the young ones.
She explained that as a youth champion representing the ministry in Gokana, L.G.A, she counsels young people from ages 13-24 in the three wards in Bodo city and Gokana.
“I go to churches on Sunday’s or youth days/programmes. By 2pm I visit student’s social clubs or elite groups. On Monday’s and Wednesday’s, I go to schools in the area for counselling to talk to them on abstinence from sex, issues of STI s, gender based violence, conception, family planning methods, cultism, alcoholism and drug abuse.

By: Ibinabo Ogolo

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