*Culture at its best: Akaraka cultural troupe entertaining the guest

…as Victor Olaoye wins N500,000 overall prize

By Japhet Davidson

IT was indeed a great feast, or what can be described as banquet as the glory of arts rose from the east at the grand finale of the annual Life in My City Arts Festival (LIMCAF) held penultimate week at the International Conference Centre, Institute of Management and Technology (IMT), Enugu  as guests, art lovers and others were treated to a potpourri of visual experiment, songs and intellectual exposure by the organisers of  festival.

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As one entered the auditorium, one was greeted with the massive art works produced by the 100 artists. With the theme, The Other Side which afforded the participating artists unhindered freedom to explore beyond their banal, the array of works presented by the artists provides different narratives to them, so it was arts at its best as the works speak volumes of the untapped talents of Nigerian youths and an indication that more Ben Enwonwus, Prof Bruce Onobrakpeyas are in the making.

Other artistic displays that announced the coal city at the night were the performance of Enugu Chamber Choir that rendered special songs in honour of the late Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe, the cultural display by the Akara Cultural troupe and the intellectual feast by Prof Ola Oloidi that opened the eyes of many especially the younger ones of the contributions of the great Zik of Africa to arts.

The event which was chaired by veteran print maker, Professor Bruce Onobrakpeya with the art loving governor of Enugu State, Rt. Hon. Ifeanyi Ugwuayi as host also witnessed the presence of the Obi of Onitsha, Igwe Alfred Achebe, HRH Igwe Lawrence Akubuzo, chairman of Enugu council of traditional rulers, Denis Okoro, Prof Ola Oloidi, Justice Ume Adi and a host of others.

It was a night of commendations galore for the organisers of the festival which is in its 13th year for its determination to change the life of many Nigerian youths through the annual competition, especially for bringing the 100 finalist to Enugu for the finals, and as fate would have it , the festival really turned Enugu to a mecca of sorts as people from all walks of life converged in the city to be part of history.

At the end of the night, it was young Victor Emmanuel Olaoye, a 400-level student of Adeyemi Federal University, Ondo who confessed that he felt so nervous and scared when he saw the massive art works produced by the artists that emerged the overall best at this year’s Life In My City Art Festival (LIMCAF) in Enugu with his work,  Angel among gods, which was adjudged the best entry of the final shortlist of 100. No fewer than 550 entries from across the country made it to the first round of the competition.  He got a prize of N500,000 and a sponsorship to attend an international exhibition.

*The winner, Victor Olaoye flanked by HRM Igwe Nnaemeka Achebe, Obi of Onitsha(r) and Mr Dennis Okoro.

Other winners of the top four prizes were Samson Ejiofor Madubuchi (Best Sculpture/Installation /Ceramics); Fagorusi Folashade Rashidat (Best Textile Art) and Clarke Toritseju Favour (Graphic/Multimedia/Digital art). Winners of the endowed prizes were Chukwuma Doris Onyinye (Justice Anthony Aniagolua Prize for originality), Idowu Emmanuel Dare (Dr. Pius Okigbo Prize for technical proficiency), Lamie Atonye (Lawrence Agada Prize for the most-promising young artist) and Nnorom Samuel John, (VinMartin Ilo Prize for best overall entry from Enugu State).

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Seventeen other artists got consolation prizes.

An elated Olaoye, who could not hide his joy, said the cash would be utilised to build and invest in his capacity as an artist, especially in the area of sharpening his skill.

Earlier in his opening remarks, the chairman of the occasion, Prof Bruce Onobrakpeya who likened  what the organisers of the festival are doing to his Harmattan Workshops which is to discover  and nurture the ‘artist child within’ commended LIMCAF  for the great job they are doing toward the promotion of art in the country. He enjoined the contestants to make good use of the opportunity provided by the organisers.

On his part, Enugu State Governor Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi, who described LIMCAF as a true representation of the Biblical injunction that thou should not despise small beginning as the festival has grown from strength to strength assured the organisers of his continued support and collaboration.

He said: “Enugu State is particularly grateful to you for bringing this annual event to the state. We appreciate how much your presence alone contributes to the economy of the state. You can be sure that I will keep hosting and collaborating with you. I thank you for creating workshop for the children and for helping to catch them young.”

The art loving monarch and Patron of the festival His Royal Majesty Igwe Nnaemeka Achebe, Agbogidi, the Obi of Onitsha. called on governors of Southeast to declare the month of October for the celebration of arts in the region.

He disclosed that this year’s festival was conveniently fixed to coincide with the post-humours birthday celebration of the late Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe, Owelle of Onitsha, who turned 115 on Saturday, November 16.

“Today, we started at Onitsha with the opening of the new office of Okpalanze in honour of Nnamdi Azikwe. As I stand here, I feel completely fulfilled… My own idea is that the month of October should be declared for creative arts in Southeast region. We have the Oreze at every Ofala festival, which features over 140 artworks by 140 artists from Nigeria, Africa and outside Africa at this year’s edition.

“This year, we started with a symposium as part of the activities and I’m sure so many people who were at that symposium are here. We have LIMCAF, Oreze and Anambra Book and Creativity Festival and others. Creative art is not just visual art. It involves art, literature, music, dance, masquerade etc. October is for Southeast. Let the whole world come here to savour the rich culture of the region,” he said.

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Chairman, LIMCAF Board, Elder K Uke Kalu, who welcomed all to the occasion disclosed that the top six winners at this year’s edition would join the six of last year’s edition on an all-expense paid visit and participation in Dak’Art Biennale in Senegal next year, courtesy of Prof El Anatsui.



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