The Arts

June 17, 2024

Olagoke to extend British honour gains to Nigeria

By Onyeka Ezike, edited by Osa Amadi

The Minister of Arts, Culture and Creative Economy, Hannatu Musa Musawa, has described the latest Order of the British Empire (MBE), Nigerian-British artist Lanre Olagoke as a visionary professional.

The Minister who joined other Nigerians in the UK at a post-award gathering organised in honour of Olagoke also assured the artist of Federal Government’s support.

Few weeks ago, Olagoke was honoured with MBE by King Charles III, at a ceremony in Windsor castle where Prince William represented the British monarchy. At the post-award party, Olagoke assured Nigerians that he will formally present his MBE to Nigeria, through the President, Bola Ahmed Tinubu-led Federal Government. Olagoke was merited for his Art-Alive Arts Trust (AAAT), in what the British government said stands “for services to charity and young people.” 

During the award ceremony at Windsor Castle, U.K, Prince William described Olagoke’s activism in art as “great things” in “long service” as well as “considerable achievements.” The prince noted that the youths that went through Olagoke’s Art-Alive Trust activities have made “selfless commitment to their communities.”

After Olagoke formally received his MBE Award from Prince William, select Nigerians in diaspora joined others to celebrate the awardee. “It is my honor to celebrate the remarkable achievements of an extraordinary artist, visionary, and founder of Art-Alive UK, Sir Lanre Olagoke, MBE,” Musawa stated. “We not only appreciate his incredible art but also commend a man whose contributions to the world of art and community have earned him the prestigious recognition of being conferred by King Charles.”

The minister who was represented at the Nigerian event by her Deputy Personal Assistant, Amira Ibrahim, noted that Olagoke is a name that resonates with passion, creativity, and a commitment to making the world a better place through art. She recalled that Olagoke’s journey has been one of relentless dedication, transforming the artistic landscape and touching countless lives along the way. She explained that the MBE honour represents a testament to Olagoke’s significant impact and the high regard in which he is held.

Disclosing parts of his immediate plans, Olagoke hopes to extend AAAT’s activities to his Nigeria, working in partnership with the federal government. “Art-Alive had done quite a few activities outside the UK, including one in Lagos, empowering less privileged youths with creative knowledge,” Olagoke recalled. “With the support and encouragement coming from the Minister, Hanatu Musawa, I am further energised to do more, working with the Federal Government of Nigeria.”

 Bisi Ilaka, former aide to Oyo State Governor, Seyi Makinde, and renowned illustrator and artist, Bob Murdock, among others, attended the post-award party. Musawa who is expected to lead the FG’s creative agency in welcoming Olagoke back in Nigeria later in the year agreed that Olagoke’s honour goes beyond his personality. “His recognition by King Charles is not just a personal accolade but a celebration of the power of art to make a difference,” Musawa said. “It highlights the importance of nurturing creativity and supporting artists who strive to bring positive change to society.”

Early in the year, the British government announced over 1,000 diverse recipients to receive the king’s honour, of which Olagoke seemed to be the only artist on the list. “The New Year Honours List recognises the exceptional achievements of people across the country and those who have shown the highest commitment to selflessness and compassion,” British Prime Minister, Rishi Sunak, said in his announcement of the awardees. “To all honourees, you are the pride of this country and an inspiration to us all.”

 Olagoke founded Art-Alive Arts Trust, as a charity in the UK, in 1997, as a platform to help young people in various settings from primary schools to prisons access the arts. Olagoke’s AAAT has been engaging participants in various art workshops within and outside the UK.