|African Artists’ Foundation through YECA trains young Nigerians|
By ADA DIKE
Over 100 students gathered at Freedom Park last Saturday for Youth Empowerment for Contemporary Art (YECA) programme organized by African Artists’ Foundation (AAF) and supported by The Ford Foundation.
According to a visual artist who works with African Artists’ Foundation as the Gallery Manager, Mr. Olayinka Stephen Sangotoye, YECA aims to empower the youth, giving skills to young students that love Art and teaching them contemporary art to earn a living and sustain them in the course of their studies.
The Coordinator of YECA also hinted that the programme began last year with Euba Secondary School, Mushin, Lagos for three months every Saturday. From there, they went to Community Senior Secondary School, Mushin, Lagos to train 20 students about contemporary art everyday for three months. From there, they moved to Senior Girls Academy, Lagos concurrently with Isale Eko Senior Grammar School, Lagos for three months as well, teaching them art and bringing in both local and international artists to teach them different topic such as craft, contemporary painting, print making and so on.
The students were taken round the Freedom Park to see LagosPhoto exhibition before they moved to Falomo Roundabout, Ikoyi, Lagos to an exhibition as well. From there they went to Quintessence in Park view, Ikoyi.
Sangotoye is optimistic that the students are showing much zeal to learn and apply what they have learnt through YECA. “Some of them have made some artworks and showed us,” he added.
On how YECA can help in nation building, he said, “If you ask me, the best course to ever read is Art because it is a universal language everybody understands. It is a means for self expression which is always very audible and clear and if these young students could have a skill they can rely on, they don’t have to run to their parents for school fees. If they face the future with art, the sky will be their limit because they will contribute their quota to the economy of Nigeria, train others like we have trained 120 students across the country.”
During an interactive session with the students after their outstanding performance of an adaption from one of her books, ‘Trapped In Oblivion’ a writer and author of “My Daughter and I”, Mrs. Ifeoma Theodore Jnr, E. said different social vices like rape, drug abuse, teen pregnancy, cyber bully, unemployment, death, cultism came up in ‘Trapped In Oblivion’. She pointed out that, “We are in a society whereby when a girl is raped, automatically, she is the cause. How about the person that raped her? Let us change our psyche. If you know someone that has been raped, help her, don’t carry the news around. Let the person that committed the crime be the one that is shamed. That is the way it should be. In the book, a girl was raped by her teacher and the student who saw it reported to the principal. Imagine how beautiful our environment will be when we lend a helping hand.
“If you look at ‘My Daughters And I’, it is unfortunate that most parents don’t know how to engage their adolescent. We all went through it. When I look at you I look at great Nigerians, that is what I see. Please channel your energy into solution to the social vices to make our society safe and better,” She advised the students.
Ifeoma urged them to believe in themselves and noted that she observed that some schools hardly endorse books on sexuality education, and revealed that her own was the first.
According to her, she wants the society to first of all appreciate the things she had penned down. “Let it serve as a mantra for them.”
Theodore’s books are endorsed nationally and internationally including the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), the National Agency for the Control of AIDS (NACA and so on. It has received great reviews from publishers. She informed Newswatch Times that the Federal Ministry of Education has included her book in the national curriculum.
A Senior Secondary (SS2) student from Isale Eko Senior Grammar School, Lagos, Master Kehinde Bashorun, 14, who participated in a play was glad to be part of the students selected for the programme. “In the story of ‘Trapped In Oblivion’, I acted as Mutiu. I learned from the story about how to avoid some ills in schools such as rape, bullying, cultism and so on.” Bashorun criticized rape and promised to correct those that are committing such crimes if he comes across them.
Another student from Girls Senior Academy, Lagos, Miss Adama Rachael, 16, said she learnt more about art including how to create works like Valentine cards and how to take care of herself as a young lady.