By Tony Adibe
The Enugu State Governor, Chief Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi has assured youths in the state of his government commitment to uplifting their creativity, skill and talent through various platforms existing in the state.
Governor Ugwuanyi gave the assurance during the grand finale and award night of 2022 Edition of Life In My City Art Festival (LIMCAF) Art Exhibition, which was held at the International Conference Center, Institute of Management and Technology (IMT), Enugu.
The theme of this year’s edition is: “Paradox of Muted Echoes,” which, interpretatively, means that things may not be as they seem or appear on the surface. “The theme suggests that things may not always be the way they are perceived. It also seems to suggest that sometimes, silence being a vital part of sound, may be a potent device, to enable us to hear from within, but it still presents a paradox,” according to the LIMCAF Art Director, Dr Ayo Adewunmi.
However, represented on the occasion by the Enugu State Commissioner for Lands, Chief Chidi Aroh, Governor Ugwuanyi also said that the state government would continue to give hope to the youths by supporting their creativity, talent, skill and zeal to bring out the best in them.
He said: “As a government, we will continue to create enabling environment for creativity of our youths to be heard and seen clearly and sustain our support for various platforms in this direction.
“The state government will continue to support youths’ creativity and this particular festival to greater heights since it serves as a springboard to showcase their artistic creativity to the entire world. I will want to commend the organisers for making this festival an annual one since 2007 and taking pain and resources to teach and bring the very best out of our talented youths.”
But in his speech which was delivered through visual platform or Zoom, the traditional ruler of Onitsha in Anambra State, the Obi-of-Onitsha, Igwe Nnaemeka Achebe, advised the in the country to be hard working and be determined to get to the zenith of anything they had passion for, as “there lies the future for you.”
Igwe Achebe, who is one of the two patrons of LIMCAF, expressed gratitude to the sponsors of the festival – MTN, Ford Foundation, HELIU RESIDENCES, Alliance Francaise, the Enugu State Government, AutoStar, IMT, ROCANA, Pinnacle Oil and Gas Limited, TachiStudio, Digital Dreams, The Pan-African Circle of Artists (PACA) and numerous others – for sustaining the festival and “making it a global brand notwithstanding its very humble beginning.”
He said: “LIMCAF Art Festival within 16 years has grown to become the largest and highest running art festival in the country collecting hundreds of art works yearly. It is time to take and expand LIMCAF beyond Nigeria to an African scope and magnitude.”
Also in his remark, the Chairman of the LIMCAF Board of Trustees, Elder Kalu U. Kalu, said that LIMCAF was able to send overall winners in its past 16 editions for an African art exhibition in Dakar, Senegal to get exposure and learning more about art.
According to Elder Kalu, for this year’s edition, a total of 270 art entries were received from eight zonal/regional centres throughout the country. He said: “We follow up on career development of our youths especially those that have won various categories of awards as well as our yearly overall winners.
“Hundreds of youths have found livelihood through arts, some have become international artists while others have discovered themselves by participating in this festival, which indicates that our investment is yielding fruits.
“I must appreciate MTN Foundation, Ford Foundation, Pinnacle Oil and Gas Ltd and a host of others as well as families and individuals that have endowed prizes at the yearly grand finale.”
However, Prof. Jerry Buhari of the Department of Fine Art, Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria, Kaduna State who led a 6-man jury for the art work entries, urged all the young artists to continue their hard work even if they were not among the first 25 that would be given prizes.
Prof. Buhari, who was also chairman, LIMCAF jury in 2009, said that the work was judged individually by the different jury, before overall collation of the individual results, based on creativity, originality, work presentation/explanation or interpretation and some other factors.
The Chairman of the grand finale, Elder U.K. Eke, said that the festival provided opportunity for the society to truly connect with the youths and share in their hopes, aspirations, and struggles.
“When you look closely at the entire art works, you will observe that each of them has a peculiar and vital message to the society,” Elder Eke said, adding that all the challenges facing the country and the present generation of youths are captured or reflected by the young artists in the works.
Also in his brief speech, the representative of the Ford Foundation, Mr Dabesaki Mac-Ikemenjima, also said that the artistic works of the young artists were a reflection of the society and its “pain and agony.”
He said: “The artistic works speak volumes of the reality within the society and its shows that the youths are much aware of societal issues.” In a goodwill message, Mr Dennis Okoro, who represented MTN Foundation, said that the telecommunication giant (MTN) was sponsoring the festival as part of its civic social responsibility and educational support in the country.
Okoro noted that the foundation was impressed with the yearly outcome of the festival and its focus of enhancing capacity and providing platform for artistic excellence among youths in the country.
“Sponsoring this art festival remains a wise decision as it brings hope and gives platforms to hundreds of youths from different parts of the country yearly and creates an enabling environment for youths to learn from renowned art scholars.
“In MTN Foundation, our mandate focuses on education, health and human empowerment; while presently we have over 5,000 medical and science students under our scholarship,” Okoro, who is also a teacher, said.
NewsBits reports that specifically on the award, four school children drawn from within the Enugu metropolis, received N50,000 cash prize each in the children category while some schools were given art textbooks.
A total of 14 artists among the final 25 artists got N20,000 consolation cash prizes each while five artists got endowment prizes from notable individuals and families.
NewsBits also reports that for the remaining six, Abiodun Emmanuel won the Best Textile Art/Fashion and received N250,000; Segun Adebayo won Best Photography/Video and was given N250,000; Idowu Abayomi won Best Graphics/Digital Art and received N250,000 while Joy Onyiri won Best Ceramics and got N250,000.
Still, other winners include : Hector Udoka who won Best Painting, (mixed media/drawing) and got N250,000, and the overall winner of LIMCAF 2022 (15th) Edition and also winner of the Best Sculptor/Installation Art was Samson Ejiofor, who got N500,000 cash prize.
In a brief interview, Ejiofor revealed that it was his seventh year of sending his entries to the festival, adding that “I am grateful to God for rewarding my persistent’’.
“My story of struggle to make it is just like the one of many youths out there; but there is hope of a better future and success if we remain focused to our passion and pursuit in life.
“I thank the organisers, the sponsors, the judges as well as my family and friends that believed in me and kept encouraging me. Thank you all,” he added.
NewsBits was reliably informed that Samson Ejiofor is not in any way related to the Executive Director of the LIMCAF, Mr. Kevin Ejiofor, who was also a former Director General of the Federal Radio Corporation of Nigeria (FRCN). The LIMCAF 2022 overall winner is from Anambra State and has, before his victory, made seven previous attempts in the competitions, while the veteran radio journalist, Mr. Kevin Ejiofor hails from Udi, in Enugu State.
This explanation became necessary because curious and anxious newsmen had inquired from this writer to ascertain if there’s any relationship between the two. “No relationship between the two. It’s just that the two individuals share similar surnames. It’s only a coincidence,” NewsBits was told.