La­gos Govt Says Awo’s Statue An Art­work, Not Pho­to­graph

• Sculp­ture Did Jus­tice To Papa’s Mem­ory, Says Se­gun Awolowo

The Guardian (Nigeria) - - CONTRIBUTORS - By Gbenga Salau

THE La­gos State Gov­ern­ment yes­ter­day clar­i­fied the on­go­ing in­sin­u­a­tions and di­verse in­ter­pre­ta­tions given to the re­cently un­veiled new Awolowo statue claim­ing that “It is a piece of art­work ex­press­ing the Artist’s im­pres­sion of the late Sage and not a pho­to­graph.’’

The state gov­ern­ment there­fore said it can be sub­jected to sev­eral in­ter­pre­ta­tions. This clar­i­fi­ca­tion was made by Mrs. Ade­bimpe Akin­sola, Spe­cial Ad­viser to the Gover­nor on Tourism, Arts and Cul­ture, who while re­act­ing stated that many sculp­tures have been made to il­lus­trate the other essence of the late sage, par­tic­u­larly the ones that por­tray him as a ‘dogged fighter’ stand­ing with his pop­u­lar vic­tory sign, but the new bust, de­pict­ing him in an en­tirely new mode, sim­ply al­ludes to his multi di­men­sional stand­ing.

“The re­al­ity is that Chief Awolowo was a colos­sus who can­not be stereo­typed. Stereo­typ­ing such a highly in­trigu­ing per­son­al­ity only ex­poses the lack of depth of the to­tal­ity of what the late sage rep­re­sents,’’ she said.

She stated fur­ther that great men all over the World, such as Abra­ham Lin­coln, whose statue was sculpted by Daniel Ch­ester French (1850–1931) and carved by the Pic­cir­illi Brother, have been de­picted in a sit­ting po­si­tion.

She said that rather than con­cen­trat­ing more on the artis­tic de­pic­tion of the Awolowo bust, what should be con­sid­ered is the de­sire of the State Gov­ern­ment to in­spire the un­born gen­er­a­tions about his lega­cies, adding that im­mor­tal­iz­ing our he­roes is surely one way of spurring present and fu­ture gen­er­a­tion of Nige­ri­ans to ef­fec­tively con­nect with our past with a view to com­mit­ting them to the vi­sion and ideals of our found­ing fa­thers.

The Spe­cial Ad­viser ex­plained that the State Gov­ern­ment un­veiled the new statue to cel­e­brate the late sage who has a larger than life im­age, and whose shoes till date have yet to be filled.

Fur­ther re­act­ing to the con­tro­versy, the Spe­cial Ad­viser posited that the late sage has be­come an in­sti­tu­tion, whose lega­cies should not be al­lowed to die, as such it should be daily cel­e­brated to serve as in­spi­ra­tion to the un­born gen­er­a­tion, which was why the La­gos State Gov­ern­ment, un­veiled this new statue in line with the pol­icy of the cur­rent ad­min­is­tra­tion to im­mor­tal­ize and ac­cord ref­er­ence to per­son­al­i­ties, he­roes and hero­ines who have con­trib­uted to the de­vel­op­ment of the State in par­tic- ular and the coun­try in gen­eral.

She listed such he­roes and hero­ines that have also been recog­nised and cel­e­brated by the State Gov­ern­ment as late Chief M.K.O Abi­ola, Prof. Ay­o­dele Awo­jobi, Chief Gani Fawe­hinmi, Late Kudi­rat Abi­ola, among oth­ers.

“Chief Obafemi Awolowo is one of the na­tion’s na­tion­al­ists, in which the La­gos State Gov­ern­ment be­lieves in his ide­olo­gies, poli­cies and pro­gramme and as such will con­sider noth­ing too much to prop­a­gate his ide­olo­gies,’’ she said.

Mean­while, the Awolowo fam­ily have ap­plauded the statue and com­mended the La­gos State Gov­ern­ment for the hon­our done to the fam­ily. Mr. Se­gun Awolowo (Jnr), in his re­ac­tion de­clared: “I love the statue and I think Hamza (the Sculp­tor) did jus­tice to his mem­ory.

“As for the large boot, I be­lieve the sym­bol­ism is that his shoes are still too big to fill af­ter all this while,’’ he said.

Sim­i­larly, Wale Ade­banwi, Di­rec­tor African Study Cen­tre, Rhodes Pro­fes­sor of Race Re­la­tions, African Stud­ies Cen­tre, Ox­ford Univer­sity said,

“As an Awo Scholar, par­tic­u­larly one who has writ­ten about the pol­i­tics of Awo stat­ues, I find the statue un­veiled by the Gover­nor and his state­ment dur­ing the un­veil­ing very sig­nif­i­cant.

“In an age in which most of our key play­ers pay lip ser­vice to Awo’s ideals as well as the sym­bol­ism around his life and ser­vice, it is re­fresh­ing to find some­one in such a crit­i­cal po­si­tion as the Gover­nor who not only ex­em­pli­fies Awo’s com­mit­ment to pub­lic good, but also rec­og­nizes the value of sym­bolic mem­ory”.

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