Yinka Shonibare MBE (RA), “I be naija proper o, I still remember my broken English”
A cocktail reception was held in honour of Yinka Shonibare MBE (RA), at Ndubuisi Kanu Park Ikeja, Lagos. The event which was held on the 24 November was to mark Mr. Shonibare’s first ever exhibition in Nigeria.
The evening started with Mr Shonibare acting as the guide, by taking journalists and guests who had been invited for the reception, round his iconic sculpture—standing over 13 feet high, the Wind VI Sculpture, is simply beauty rollicking in the winds. Even the artist himself, could be seen admiring the work of his hands, and perhaps saying to himself, It’s nice to bring you home, now let’s wow them.
After this viewing, guests were ushered in into the tent for press briefing. Journalists from different media houses took turns to ask Mr Shonibare questions. He revealed that he had plans which will help transform the state of Nigeria’s visual art. In response to a question on the importance of art, Mr Shonibare said, “Government should realise that the arts can empower and enrich the nation to its fullest maximum”.
Then Ms Ojoma Ochai, Director of Arts British Council Nigeria, ushered the guests into the main hall for the event proper, which begun with the welcome address from Ms Louisa Waddingham, Director Programmes British Council. Ms Waddingham talked about how important it is for Mr Shonibare’s MBE(RA) work to come to Nigeria. Also, she said, Mr Shonibare has used his art to reshape the world’s perspective.
Mr Simon Shercliff, British Deputy High Commissioner, who was next to speak, started off by saying, “My Yoruba friend”, referring to Mr Yinka Shonibare MBE(RA). Mr Shercliff, in his short speech, spoke about the importance of arts in our present times and reiterated how great it was to have Mr Shonibare in Nigeria. Also, he said, culture and arts can change the fortune of any country if given the chance.
Mr Jide Sipe, a representative of Mr Segun Agbaje, Managing Director of Guaranty Trust Bank, spoke on the relationship between Mr Shonibare, arts, and the bank. Mr Sipe said, the bank will continue to do everything in its power to support and promote the arts, because the arts are central to growing any economy.
Then came the man of the hour, Yinka Shonibare.He started his short talk by being humorous, greeting everyone in Yoruba and in Pidgin-English. And when this was well received by the audience, he said, ‘‘I be naija proper o, I still remember my broken English’’.
He talked about how, against all odds, he beat his disability and achieved his dreams. He thanked Ms Bisi Silva of CCA, for the amazing job she is doing in Nigeria. He said, he had plans for Nigeria’s creative industry, and urged the government, powerful individuals, and organisations to support and help change the landscape of Nigeria’s creative arts. He finished by thanking his family and everyone for supporting him.
One of Yinka Shonibare’s plan, is to have a studio here, in Nigeria, and to bring international students over for exchange programmes.The Wind VI Sculpture, which has been installed at Ndubuisi Kanu Park, is available for public viewing till the end of the year.