‘We Want LIMCAF To Bring The Whole World To Enugu’ – Kevin Ejiofor

L – R: LIMCAF Art Director, Dr. Ayo Adewunmi; Chairman LIMCAF BoT, Elder Kalu U. Kalu (wearing red cap), (extreme right with hands akimbo), Executive Director LIMCAF, Mr Kevin Ejiofor during the opening of the Grand Finale Exhibition at IMT, Enugu…yesterday

By Tony Adibe

The grand finale of the 15th edition of Life In My City Art Festival (LIMCAF) ’22 has opened at the International Conference Centre, Institute of Management and Technology (IMT) in Enugu State with 105 pieces of art works on exhibition.

This is even as the LIMCAF Executive Director and former Director General, Federal Radio Corporation of Nigeria (FRCN), Mr. Kevin Ejiofor has said that the vision of the organizers of the festival is to pull the entire world to come and witness the event in Enugu State every October.

LIMCAF is an annual festival for the celebration of creativity among young Nigerian artists and this year’s grand finale opened officially with great expectations from art enthusiasts and scholars, who attended the opening event 

Declaring open the event, which commenced from Saturday 22 to Saturday 29 October 2022, the Chairman, LIMCAF Board of Trustees (BOT), Elder Kalu U. Kalu described the event as a “God-driven festival” which has consistently lasted for over 15 years despite mounting challenges it has faced.

Elder Kalu, lauded the management of LIMCAF for creating a most consistent platform to discover and support youths with passion for Arts. Kalu, who is the chairman of LIMCAF, described the management of the festival as ‘very strange’ people, who never gave up despite the financial challenges that the festival had had to pass through.

“We have had consistent management and supporters in LIMCAF who have virtually succeeded from nothing in promoting visual arts. We will continue to succeed,” he said.

He expressed happiness that LIMCAF had been able to promote young artists in the country, advising the young artists to take full advantage of the platform to achieve their desired goal in art.

“I want to say that this management is a very strange one in outlook, because they make the festival succeed despite several challenges. But we thank the good lord for sustaining it so far,” said Elder Kalu, who was a former Chairman of the Union Bank Plc.

Explaining further the situation LIMCAF has had over time, Elder Kalu said: “I don’t know of any other group that has consistent supporters as we have in LIMCAF. Year in and year out, these gentlemen struggle on their own to make things happen, and when they are about to give up, something good would happen.

“I think the LIMCAF is God-driven and since it’s God-driven, it will continue to succeed enormously in Jesus’ name.”

Also speaking, the LIMCAF Art Director, Dr. Ayo Adewunmi explained that the grand final exhibition comprised a “mixture of entries from Lagos, Ondo, Ibadan, Port-Harcourt, Uyo, Enugu and Abuja; the regional centres.”

Dr. Adewunmi said that the theme for this year’s exhibition is “Paradox of Muted Echoes,” which literally means that things are not always as they are imagined, adding that the idea is to bring young Nigerian artists together to be able to showcase their skills and talent. 

The Art Director recalled that the event has been holding since its commencement in 2007, though except in 2020 when it was put off due to the Covid-19 Pandemic during when “we were all affected by the lockdown.”

He said that 105 young Nigerian artists will attend this year’s grand finale otherwise known as the Top 100 Works but added that the figure is rather a shortfall compared to previous festivals when 400 to 500 entries were recorded.   

Adewunmi stated: “I’m delighted to say that it’s been a good experience and the impact on the young Nigerian artist is quite huge.

“Again, I would like to thank the Board because this year we are bringing 105 artists from across Nigeria to participate in what we call the Top 100 works. They are coming from all over the country. I was quite excited to hear from Sir Kevin Ejiofor that the artists who are coming from Ondo State are coming with a chartered Coaster Bus to attend the event.

“I was excited because the idea of LIMCAF, which is a festival, is actually getting nation-wide awareness. So we expect the entire country to be coming to Enugu to witness this.”

He further said: “I want to thank the LOC and the Board of Trustees, in particular, because Mr. Kevin Ejiofor, who is my guide, at one point, would tell you that ‘we are running the event with our blood!’ But now, we are beginning to be comfortable. We’re crawling and walking but now, I think we are running. And I hope we will fly one day.”

In his brief remark, the Executive Director, Mr. Kevin Ejiofor, said it was not easy to host the festival after the breach caused by the Covid-19 and the current challenge caused by the nation-wide industrial strike embarked upon by the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) due to the failure of the Nigerian Federal Government to fulfill its part of the agreement.

According to Ejiofor, who was a former Director General of Federal Radio Corporation of Nigeria (FRCN), “It’s a very great pleasure to have this in 2022. After the COVID-19-year 2020, and now the ASUU-FG year 2022, we’re still able to have this event.

“I’m mentioning that because we have on the whole just about 270 entries which is quite low compared to what we have built up to over the years; we used to have up to 400 or 500 entries from all over the country in each year.

“But because the schools are shut down due to the ASUU strike. And the teachers who used to guide the students on how to go about the entry for the LIMCAF competition were not available, so that might have affected the number of participants. But we are looking forward to getting many more people.

“However, our vision is that we want to get to a time when the whole world will be converging in Enugu in October and all our activities would be built to a certain level.”

NewsBits reports that after the zonal exhibitions, a Top 100 Works would be made, leading to the grand finale exhibition of the 100 best art works from the zones which is currently going on in Enugu during when the overall best will emerge.

 However, parts of the activities slated within the period of the grand finale include LIMCAF 2022 Festival Lecture which will be held on Friday October 28, 2022. The lecture topic, “Art And Its Pedagogy: What Contemporary Nigerian Artists Teach Us With Their Visual Narratives,” is to be delivered by Prof. Chike Aniakor, a veteran Painter and Art History.  Also, the Top 100 Artists will arrive in Enugu on October 28.

But there will be a tour of four historic sites by the Top 100 Artists, jury and journalists after which the gala and award night will be held on Saturday, 29 October at the International Conference Centre, IMT, Enugu.

One of the works on exhibition included a large-size tortoise and a life-size crocodile, sculptured with discarded plastic bottles measuring 410cm/210cm in dimension by Dalong Fwangle Peter.

There is also a work by Mbaeri Stephen entitled “Denialism,” a sculpture depicting a labourer who has been milked and badly exploited by his employer, who according to the artist, “does care about me.”

In a verse that is crafted like a poem, the artist explains that the work is also a depiction of the political leaders in high and low places all over Nigeria, who ask the electorate for their votes only to forget the voters soon after the elections.

An image of a wealthy and haughty looking man, wearing “Agbada” or “Babanriga” is seen sitting comfortably inside a head-pan which the poor labourer is bearing its heavy weight on his right shoulder as he carries it along sweating. The fact that the wealthy man is also holding the Nigerian flag tells volume about the rot that is the Nigerian condition when it comes to poor treatment of some labourers/workers whose rights and benefits are grossly denied by their employers.  

“I have been betrayed/ By deceivers parading themselves as leaders/Liars who embrace me with a knife/ I thought they cared but all they want is piece of me/ No doubt my little right-hand muscle has expanded to its last…” wrote Mbaeri Stephen.

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