Says parents should stop choosing careers for their children
Ifeyinwa Okafor is the Chief Executive Officer of Homes and Landscapes, an interior decorating company. Interestingly, the company does this with recycled products. In this interview with Prisca Sam-Duru, Mrs. Okafor speaks about her company’s pet project, ‘Art Arise’ and more on the need for children to be allowed to choose careers based on their talents.
WE train children to obey and trust their parents, why then is it wrong for parents to choose careers for children?
In the case of choosing career, parents are not getting it right. We are to observe our children and find out what their talents are and then help them develop it by guiding them in the choices they make. A lot of children come to us and say how much they love arts but that their parents are asking them to read Medicine or Law and Engineering. Most of them love to write or draw but their parents see that as hobbies, so now our mission is to encourage those gifts in our children. If it is writing, send them to creative writing classes, if it is drawing, encourage them to enter for competitions or study Fine Art. A lot of us, having studied law or medicine, end up not practicing.
We find ourselves going back to using our talents in catering, designing or creative arts. We are trying to tell parents that can be a career. From this camp that is the just concluded Art Arise 2017 for instance, we got two children who love catering and we’ve seen what they served us during the closing ceremony. It was awesome. We are using this medium to tell our parents to expose their children to the area they can be nurtured in. Because of most parents’ up-bringing we stick to, oh! I want my child to become a doctor or lawyer. That should change.
Apart from parents’ upbringing, why do you think they choose careers for their children?
Job security. A lot of us are afraid that at the end of school, there’ll be no job for the children. So we think that by choosing a career for them, that once they are out of school there are jobs waiting for them. They feel if the child becomes a comedian for instance, when will he become an Okey Bakassi? But they should know that talents are natural which are developed afterwards through trainings, it endures and as long as creativity runs in the child’s veins, he will become even more successful than those already making it in the industry. We need to ensure our children’s destinies are set right.
Tell us more about the ‘Art Arise’ project.
Art Arise is a creative workshop for children. This 2017 workshop is the maiden edition. Our vision is to ensure that children should not be discouraged and also not to look at art as a hobby but that art can become a source of livelihood. We should inspire them to discover their hidden talents. Art Arise is a creative hub for any child who has a talent in singing, dancing or using their hands to make items. The idea is putting them in a room while they inspire one another. During the eight days, we had mentors in different artistic fields who taught them how to develop and use their talents.
Mentors such as Emmanuel Kuforiji taught the children how to make boxes, Emmanuel Ojeni took them through making beautiful baskets that can be used as hampers, Gaddafil taught us how to use the core of foil to make home decors, Bobby Udoh also mentored them, renowned artist, Henrimoweta mentored the children on painting as well as using art as a source of livelihood. Pat Lola Olofinjana who owns an art gallery in Ilupeju donated samples at the workshop while her daughter taught us how to make bags and other artistic items with local fabrics.
Why exactly did you choose to encourage children to take up careers in the arts?
Our company is about beautifying the home. Of course our clients usually want art works to decorate their homes and offices, so instead of continuing to import arts works, we decided to encourage more local production and we encourage our clients to look inwards as we have creative individuals in the art industry who make beautiful pieces. We also aim at discouraging wasting money through foreign exchange. In addition, we thought it wise to support children to take up careers based on their skills so as to find fulfillment and at the same time, make a living.
The age bracket?
This first edition we allowed 10- 16 years of age to participate but if we have nine year old and up to 18, indicating interest, we will accept them.
How do we make the art industry attractive?
Opportunities like Art Arise should be taken seriously. Even the traditional careers, if you pick engineering for instance, it has been broken down into many parts. Those who participated in the workshop and some parents who joined us listened to the opportunities that abound in arts, I’m sure they will want to encourage talented children.
Art Arise is here to expose how lucrative the arts are. The income line is enormous especially in these days of social media, internet services whereby artists are paid when their jokes, works or songs are used as ring tones or downloaded.