An encounter with Jason Eboka leaves no one in doubt that the 17-year-old aspiring architect knows his onions when it comes to his chosen field. But, as committed as he is to architecture, Jason will not let an opportunity to play in the NBA pass him by. A silent career option that is for now a hobby for the 5’10 feet tall teen, Jason in this interview with Nkechi Ibeneme talks about his works of art, his love for basketball and his plans for the future
You just graduated from Babington Macaulay Junior Seminary. What’s next for you?
I will enrol to study Architecture in a reputable university. To prepare myself for this, I am undergoing internship at SAS Space Design, a foremost architectural firm in Nigeria.
While in school, how often did you participate in the BRESCAG competition organised by your school and other select schools?
I did not participate in the BRESCAG competition because it was meant for art major students and I was in the technical department.
We have seen your artwork with the Pharaoh painting. What other genre of the art do you do?
Still life, including crayon on paper; this actually earned me a UNICEF recognition and a slot in the competition, ‘The Survival of a Nigerian Child’ in 2012 when I was in Primary 6.
What inspired the Pharaoh-themed art? Why not a portrait of an Oba, Emir or Igwe?
The Pharaoh work was actually a theme for the prom night of my immediate graduating set. I was in a committee of about 12 people who all contributed to the work. I chose Pharaoh as the theme for my work because I thought it explained and portrayed the way the seniors were seen by their juniors; because Pharaoh was known to be very stern and fierce especially in meting out punishments.
What inspires creativity in you?
The ‘wow’ factor and joy on people’s faces.
Who is your favorite Nigerian artist and why?
My favorite Nigerian artist of all time is Sam Ebohon. He is my favorite because his creativity in painting is unfathomable. I love how he is able to turn random splashes of paint into beautiful works.
Who is your timeless artist in the world and why?
I want to classify Fariborz Sahba, who is actually an architect as my timeless artist in the world. He is the architect behind the Bahai House of Worship in New Delhi, India. He is my timeless artist in the world because he understood the spiritual connection of flowers to the Indians and used this knowledge to build a magnificent house of worship. This ability to understand a client’s deep need and turn it into reality is a very important skill for a dynamic and successful architect.
Who is your role model?
My role models are my parents. They have different and unique skills that I admire. I am learning every day to blend their attributes with my own God-given distinctive talents – may God help me! I am learning to understand what life is about and how to handle the different scenarios of life.
How long have you been painting?
I have been painting since I was in primary school and my specialty is drawing.
What inspired your interest in art?
I grew up with art. My parents have friends that are art inclined and we have always had paintings hanging on the walls like a Joe Musa, Henri Moweta and Victor Ehikamenor among others. Also, a challenge by my schoolmate in primary school that I couldn’t draw got me fired up.
Where do you see yourself 10 years from now?
Ten years from now, I see myself breaking boundaries in the dynamic world of modern architecture; working solo and collaborating with like-minded individuals.
Why do you think more youths are drawn to music and the performing arts?
With the advent of modern technology and easy access to these tools, youths find it easier to express themselves in music and in the performing arts to make money.
What do you think should be done to promote interest in other art genres?
Exposure to other forms of art through free workshop programmes with interesting contents should be created in order to raise awareness among youths about various other career choices in the arts.
Away from art, how will you describe your personality?
Naturally, I am a very calm and observant person, with a great flair for making friends easily.
What turns you off?
When I don’t bring on my ‘A Game’ in basketball; when I feel I’m not getting something right in my artworks, misrepresentation of issues, nasty comments and rude people.
What’s your favorite food?
I don’t have a favorite food.
What’s your favorite colour?
My favorite colour is orange. It is vibrant.
When you are not painting, what else keeps you busy and happy?
Reading novels which improves my intellect and playing basketball which keeps me physically fit. They’re both fun and exhilarating to me.
If you get a chance, will you rather play in the NBA than practise architecture?
If I got a chance to play in the NBA and give up architecture, I would take it.
In 2016, three female students of your former school were kidnapped. Do you mind telling us what that experience was like for you?
It was very scary considering the fact that it played out right in front of me. It was quite emotional as well because my best friend was one of the students kidnapped and all the victims were from my class. I cannot explain the joy that overwhelmed the school, their parents, my classmates and I when they were eventually released. I still keep thanking God for their safe return because on that, it could have been anyone.
What do you think the government should do more to curb criminality in Nigeria?
The government should make education accessible to all and create more job opportunities. Not ignoring the creation of vocational learning centres because a lot of the people involved in crime are jobless and are idle with little or no education.
Do you think fine art occupies a pride of place in Nigeria?
It has been affected with the advent of technology, social media and the get-rich-quick syndrome. But fine art occupies a pride of place in Nigeria because it is in our culture. It is a memorabilia of our ancestors and many times reminds us of how greatly things have changed in our culture.
If you are presented with an opportunity to showcase at an art exhibition, do you think you can have a good showing with what you have done so far?
Yes, I can have a good show though I would need to create more works.
Of all your paintings, which one are you most emotionally attached to and why?
I am attached to my digital works because they are all purely my effort. No one else contributes or tells me what to do and I prefer it that way.
Teenagers love hip hop. What genre of music works for you?
Hip hop and rap work best for me, although I listen to a bit of Asa too.
How well can you dance?
I don’t know how to dance at all. I don’t care to learn, although my brother is pretty good with his feet.
Who is your favorite artiste in Nigeria?
My favorite Nigerian artiste is Runtown.
Which recent event in Nigeria will you say caught your attention and why?
Davido’s ‘30 Billion’ concert caught my attention because it was interesting and he gave out free Taxify rides to his fans.
What are the things you will do differently this year?
I’ll put in more effort while taking giant strides to be more focused in my objectives. And have more confidence in myself by eliminating self-doubt.
What advice do you have for your peers?
I will say, a
Jason Eboka 5 copy.JPGlways put up your ‘A game’. Stay super-focused and eliminate the major success inhibitor which is self-doubt.