A night before the World Children’s Day celebrations, Lagos State government, in partnership with Diamond Bank, had its own special feast, parading the best of the artworks from the VISION OF THE CHILD competition with the theme, ‘Past Winners’ Choice’. Yinka Olatunbosun, who witnessed the grand finale, reports

Dubbed the “Past Winners’ Choice”, the sixth season of the VISION OF THE CHILD (VoTC) was deliberately situated at the peak of the Lagos at 50 celebrations to showcase the rich intellectual resources of the children of the state on the eve of World Children’s Day. The shimmering chandelier and the soothing music from the surround system seemed to be all that the second floor of the Civic Centre had to offer before the arrival of guests including parents, guardians and teachers. Clad in same white t-shirts as well as ankara skirts and shorts respectively, the girls and boys occupied the front seat just close enough to where the Nobel Laureate, Prof. Wole Soyinka sat.

The year-long event had been flagged off by the Lagos State Governor, Akinwunmi Ambode during the Gala Award night of the 2016 edition of VoTC. The edition had a rather comical theme, “Sisi-Eko at 50: Ageing Gracefully or na so so pancake?” The contest has produced 50 student finalists who had emerged from over 250 contestants from over 50 participating schools in both literary and painting competitions.

This annual event was inaugurated in April 2012 with themes that addressed socio-political and cultural realities of the country. Over 2000 children from primary and secondary schools, ages between 8 and 12 years have benefitted from VoTC since inception. The project has produced over 173 paintings and drawings by the student finalists and these works are expected to be mounted in a permanent exhibition hall.

Asides the visual art, which was the staple for this annual contest, creative writers have been involved in this competition. Each participant in the literary category is expected to write an essay, story or poem to match the theme.

To bring the audience at the Grand Finale up-to-speed on the contest and how the finalists had emerged, a short video that was screened which showed how 50 past winners made their creative presentations in April. Having gone through a series of training, networking and group painting in form of a reality show, the contestants made their final presentation before a live audience on May 6 at the Federal Palace Hotel, Victoria Island, Lagos, through the medium of Painting, Literary Arts, Music, Dance and Photography.

The Project Director, VoTC, Foluke Michael who worked assiduously on the event said it was great to see all the past winners who had enjoyed mentorship between 2012 and 2016 at the same time.

“The motto of VoTC is being redefined by these winners,” she said. “The motto of Lagos at 50 is ‘Enhance the Heritage: Advance the future’. As you can see, they are no longer children. They are set of adults who have different creative ability and ideas on how they can enhance the heritage and look straight into the future of Lagos State.

“The first phase was for them to meet. The second phase was for them to be trained. We took them to the world of projects. We invited facilitators including architects, photographers and all sorts of professionals in the creative industry to talk to them in a-four day intensive training. They were later expected to showcase what they had learnt for two months into different medium such as dance, photography, painting and literary arts.”

The participants in the visual arts expressed their creativity in Information Technology, Architectural (Building or Landscaping), Street Decor, Transportation, Motor Park, Leisure Park, Public or Private Institutions, Public Facilities, government policies, Performances, Innovations, Educational models, Films, Campaigns, Market, Factory, amongst others. Participants also wrote individual essays or poems on the theme.

The participants in the visual arts expressed their creativity in Information Technology, Architectural (Building or Landscaping), Street Decor, Transportation, Motor Park, Leisure Park, Public or Private Institutions, Public Facilities, government policies, Performances, Innovations, Educational models, Films, Campaigns, Market, Factory, amongst others. Participants also wrote individual essays or poems on the theme.

The contestants presented their individual creative ideas before live audience on Saturday, May 6, as seen in the short video.

“Some of them have combined dexterity,’’ observed Michael. “Some can paint and dance. Now, they have defined the different sectors of Lagos in their own creativity and they have a word for the governor that- ‘listen to us. This is our idea of Lagos’. Lagos can actually be a mega city.

“Today is crazy. I am nervous and I don’t know what to expect. I don’t even have the results. I am excited.”
In the keynote address, Prof. Wole Soyinka congratulated the finalists in the competition and commended them for their creative efforts. VoTC began an as essential part of the Lagos Black Heritage Festival which was the brainchild of the literary giant who has inspired generations of artists all over the world.

While the audience was awaiting the results of the competition, the Head, Corporate Communications, Diamond Bank Plc, Chioma Afe revealed the reason for the bank’s unwavering support for VoTC.

“The core objective of VoTC is to activate the imagination of the child and channel their creative energies to develop art, prose and poetry that is socially impactful and also lifestyle relevant,” she said. “As such, we key into the vision of VOTC as one that also goes beyond the typical education and development of the child to enabling them channel their creativity towards a positive outcome.”

In the spirit of past winner, one of the past winners at the music reality show, Nigerian Idol, Evelle took the stage in her afro-centric attire to prove that she is still the voice to reckon with. Her retinue of songs included her own self-compositions which are rendered mostly in Yoruba language. One of her best shots that night was her cover of Lagbaja’s “Never Far Away” which features Ego on the vocals.

Under the literary category, Rebecca Sylvester won the third position while the second position was a tie between Ifunanya Obinwa and Nwaoke Ifeoma. The winner in this category is Princess Marinay who got the first position.
As expected, the painting category was very competitive as each contestant put the best foot forward. Three contestants emerged as winners of the second position in painting namely, Joseph Okey- Ogunmijiofor and Sophie Okwonkwo. In the special skill category, Titiloye Tobi came second in her Environment and Innovation painting while Nwaokorie Oluchukwu won the first position in Architecture and Design. Alli Bakare and Anjola Olanrewaju secured their first positions in painting amidst the cheers from the audience.

No fewer than 4,000 applications were received for this edition of VoTC which is a clear indication of the rekindled interest in art and cultural preservation.