Curator Tells Nigerian History from Colonial Era with Historic Photographs


Adedayo Akinwale in Abuja

Worried by the young people’s thirst to assimilate western culture, an Art Curator, Hamza Atta has embarked on a-two day arts exhibition aimed at creating historic awareness, promoting art and culture through collection of paintings, sculptures and photographs by renowned artists.

The recent exhibition held at the Ozido House, Abuja was aimed at promoting Nigerian Arts and Nigerian history, culture and tradition.

The art gallery currently houses the outstanding works of Polly Alakija, a renowned British-Nigerian artist and the chairman of the Lagos state Council for Art and Culture.

Atta, while speaking to journalists yesterday in Abuja lamented that, “all the young people in Nigeria seem to just assimilate everything western. It is almost as if everything Nigerian is not good or has no history, and our history is richer than any western history.”

He added: “In our schools for instance, they are not properly funded, they don’t even teach history. We are not writing our own narrative. Somebody else is telling us our own history. If you go to schools now to go and find out about Nigeria history you will find out that that history only start when ‘Oyinbo’ came; what about before, did we not exist before?

“So, if you go onto the first floor, you will see that I have some pictures showing some of the old Obas; showing some of the business that Nigerians were doing with the Oyinbos on their vessels. It was first of all just trading, then for instance I got w couple of pictures showing the destruction of Lagos, how they completely destroyed it.

“You will see the colonials coming to the hinterland and you will see that most of the walls are actually world cities. They destroyed all of them. The Benin wall was longer than the great wall of China and could be seen from the moon, they destroyed Benin city and stole all our artifacts.”

Atta stressed that most of the renowned museums today in UK, France , America, Australia that the most precious artifacts there are all from Nigerian and Egypt. He revealed that the exhibition will be taking place every two months.

“So, the idea is to have an art exhibition and through art show the journey, how they came, how they ban our traditional religions for instance, how they introduced Islam and Christianity. How they now move from Oba to their own district Heads, Governors and from there to their own police force and all the produced they were exporting and so on.

“It is just takes you through a journey, so what we are trying to do is to at least educate. We want to do a series of this art exhibition from time to time to let people understand who we are, where we come from.

“I’m also happy to see a whole bunch of foreigners coming today because these people just think we are nothing, all they hear is that Nigeria is corrupt, Nigeria has 419, there is no light in Nigeria, there is no water in Nigeria. There is a lot good in Nigeria, but we must promote it by ourselves,” Atta said.

Also, Alakija, whose one of her recent works was the decoration of Falomo bridge in Lagos state, where she painted the faces of 50 women on 50 pillars; called “Pillars of Strength”, said her style of arts was relatively easy to read and figurative.

She said a lot of Nigerian artists mix a lot of colour because the training is quite traditional.

“I rarely mix many colours. The students and the young artists that are with me I’m always lecturing them to stop merging their colours. I don’t mess around with colours. That is where I think the strength of my colours come from.”