‘Why we preserve history using illustrations’
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