By Prisca Sam-Duru & Vera Samuel Anyagafu
The just concluded US Fulbright scholar, Erica Licht’s You and I Teach Each Other (UNITE) initiative which kept youths across Lagos busy in diverse genres of art, for four months was a huge platform for promoting justice as well as the need to adopt the non-violence approach to conflict resolution.
Painter Duke Asidere and video artist, Jude Anogwih mentored 30 young participants from each community, in the visual arts, weekly at Licht’s workshops in Ogudu, Ajegunle and Lagos Island.
Apart from lessons in painting and video arts, the project also utilised other creative genres such as Yoga, music and performing arts.
Asidere who was at the workshop with film practitioners, Aondofa Saaka and Ralph Anire, described his experience with the youths as fascinating adding that the core of the workshops, was to encourage people to put their best in whatever they do.
UNITE according to Licht is a justice program that engages youth in Lagos, from age 15, in an experiential learning project using criminal justice, environmental and life skills curriculum.”
“The project teaches positive behavioral skills to youth through education on security and justice issues in Lagos, and for the youths to learn and cultivate decent attitude, supplemental programming in nature provides a classroom to teach conflict resolution practices such as stress management, personal development and interpersonal group skills free from the distractions of the urban environment”, She explained.
The choice of Asidere as artist for the workshop according to the American scholar was because he is a talented “artist who creates an art piece within an hour and a half”.
For Anogwih, a member of Video Art Network, Lagos, sharing amazing views on creativity, art and technology with the youths during the workshops, was an amazing experience that helped him change his myopic view and stereotypes of Ajegunle.
His introduction of unfamiliar application of video as a different form of art and showing of some works of other artists who have used video to make statements about their environment, were a delight to the participants who were also taken through Yoga with expert, Dayo Adegoke conducting.
It was however, not understood why yoga was included in the project but Litcht explained that “I see yoga as a particular art form; for relaxation and self-control”. In another session of the workshop termed Alternative to Violence Project (AVP), performing art was implored to create dramas that inspire “solving problems non-violently”.