‘Why we pre­serve his­tory us­ing il­lus­tra­tions’

Sunday Trust - - ARTS & IDEAS -

to ex­ten­sively cover ev­ery­thing about North­ern Nige­ria his­tory and I am will­ing to take this walk. Now is the time to change Nige­ria’s nar­ra­tive and show the world how mag­i­cal our stories are. We have de­vel­oped a well-struc­tured SEO al­go­rithm help with this, and as years go by, when any­one goes on­line to search about any­thing from North­ern Nige­ria, what they would see would change their per­cep­tion about the Arewa states.

At the just con­cluded 2018 La­gos Book and Art Fes­ti­val (LABAF), ASIRI held an il­lus­tra­tion art ex­hi­bi­tion ti­tled ‘Colours of Our His­tory’: The 1851 Bombardment of La­gos and Other Stories’. What in­spired the ex­hi­bi­tion?

I think it’s about time we start hav­ing pub­lic ex­hi­bi­tions and show­cases, so that the pub­lic can see what the ASIRI brand is all about. I am a sto­ry­teller, and I tell my stories through the his­tory of this great coun­try called Nige­ria. The ex­hi­bi­tion is part of a pro­ject we launched last year called ‘Colours of Our His­tory’, which is a col­or­ful and more ex­cit­ing way of telling Nige­rian his­tory. Of­ten times peo­ple tell us our post on so­cial me­dia are a lit­tle bit aca­demic, so ‘Colours of our His­tory’ tells Nige­rian his­tory through bril­liant il­lus­tra­tions us­ing simple and apt lan­guage. Another thing that in­spired the ex­hi­bi­tion is the need to cre­ate works that peo­ple can in­ter­act and en­gage with off­line. Our Ul­ti­mate aim with the pro­ject is to ar­rest the at­ten­tion of mil­len­ni­als and get them in­volved in this jour­ney of pro­tect­ing and pre­serv­ing Nige­rian his­tory, cul­ture and arts.

The ex­hi­bi­tion fea­tured a per­for­mance re-en­act­ment of the 1851 In­va­sion, an in­stal­la­tion art piece and 20 il­lus­tra­tion works that show­cased other his­tor­i­cal stories across Nige­ria. How would you de­scribe the suc­cess of this ef­fort so far and what fu­ture plans do you have up your sleeve?

The ex­hi­bi­tion pro­ject is still on­go­ing. We are plan­ning a show­case, hope­fully be­fore the year runs out, if we get spon­sor­ship for it. But look­ing at the mileage we got dur­ing the one week that the ex­hi­bi­tion and the in­stal­la­tion art was on pub­lic dis­play, I would say it was a great suc­cess.

We had peo­ple that came in to view the works, chil­dren from Pri­mary and Sec­ondary schools came over and were in­trigued with what they learnt about Nige­rian his­tory in a short while. Suc­cess of what we do can’t be judged overnight, but if any of our works can cause a stir and im­pact just one per­son, I would say, yes, it’s been suc­cess­ful. We plan to have at least a well-planned elab­o­rate ex­hi­bi­tion and show­case three times ev­ery year, and most im­por­tantly, we have plans to kick off a se­ries of VR (Vir­tual Re­al­ity) and AVR (Aug­mented Vir­tual Re­al­ity) ex­hi­bi­tion art show­case around Nige­rian his­tory that would spark a se­ries of pos­i­tive change within and out­side the coun­try.

What as­pect of Nige­ria’s his­tory do you look for­ward to ex­plor­ing next?

Ba­si­cally, we are look­ing at cov­er­ing ev­ery as­pect of Nige­rian his­tory. For next year, I am look­ing at go­ing deep into the his­tory of North­ern Nige­ria, Benin and Niger Delta his­tory. These ar­eas have mind blow­ing his­tor­i­cal nar­ra­tives that would shock the world if pre­sented. Hope­fully with the right re­sources and spon­sor­ship, we would be able to do this.

The main ob­jec­tive of the ex­hi­bi­tion pro­ject was to cre­ate medi­ums for di­a­logue and dis­cus­sion around Nige­ria’s his­tory. To what ex­tent would you say this ob­jec­tive has been at­tained so far and how do you in­tend to push it?

The most im­por­tant thing is to cre­ate the medi­ums to start di­a­logue. Our ob­jec­tive hasn’t been achieved yet, but we have started and all we can do now is push harder and keep fan­ning the em­bers that will stir more fire for more dis­cus­sion, di­a­logue and a more creative ap­proach in pro­mot­ing Nige­ria’s his­tory. We are go­ing to cre­ate more works, con­duct more re­search, hold ex­hi­bi­tions, stage plays, on­line cam­paigns and so on.

You didn’t study any­thing to We are look­ing at cov­er­ing ev­ery as­pect of Nige­rian his­tory. For next year, I am look­ing at go­ing deep into the his­tory of North­ern Nige­ria, Benin and Niger Delta his­tory. These ar­eas have mind blow­ing his­tor­i­cal nar­ra­tives that would shock the world if pre­sented.

do with the art or his­tory. What at­tracted you?

I have al­ways been a creative per­son with an in­quis­i­tive mind for knowl­edge and his­tory. I was Edi­tor in Chief for Dy­namix Mag­a­zine when I was in 300 Level in Obafemi Awolowo Uni­ver­sity, ile Ife and held the po­si­tion even af­ter I grad­u­ated. Ev­ery­thing I have learnt has been a lad­der to where I am now. I be­lieve in learn­ing as much as I can. It pre­pares me for the task ahead, for to­mor­row. Also, I have al­ways had the drive in me and it was just a mat­ter of time.

A de­pic­tion of the In­va­sion of Benin King­dom in 1897 – il­lus­trated by ASIRI

The 1851 In­va­sion of Abeokuta by Da­homean Ama­zons, il­lus­trated

A scene in the doc­u­men­tary

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