A Dak’Art Opportunity for LIMCAF’s Lucky 18

Yinka Olatunbosun

They are 18 artists, culled from zones across Nigeria. They jetted out of Lagos on Wednesday, May 18 for the Senegalese capital, Dakar, for the 14th edition of the Dakar Art Biennale, tagged Dak’Art. The biennial art meet, arguably Africa’s most famous contemporary art platform, opened in Dakar on Thursday, May 19.

As for LIMCAF, it is a pan-Nigeria youth empowerment art competition now in its 15th year, which is currently the biggest and longest running contemporary art event in Nigeria and draws in an average of 500 entries from young artists every year. 

The 18 young artists now in Senegal – called the LIMCAF 18 – have emerged as the top six winners from the 2018, 2019 and 2021 editions of the LIMCAF art competitions and have the renowned Ghanaian-born, Nigeria-based artist El Anatsui to thank for this all-expenses-paid trip. 

Recall that the former University of Nigeria, Nsukka art lecturer first sponsored LIMCAF’s 2017 top four winners to Dak’Art’s 2018 edition and later extended the largesse to the top six winners of the 2018 and 2019 editions in anticipation of the next Dak’Art, which was to be held in 2020.

Incidentally, both LIMCAF, which is an annual festival, and Dak’Art, a biennial event, could not be held in 2020 on account of the coronavirus pandemic. Hence, the inclusion of the 2021 winners to swell the number to 18.

The LIMCAF 18 are currently participating in a group exhibition with a coterie of older artists from the Pan African Circle of Artists (PACA), which is one of the biennale’s many “off” exhibitions holding in the Senegalese capital.

Earlier on Tuesday, May 17, the artists were hosted to a special private dinner given by the Chairman of LIMCAF, Elder K. U. Kalu, at his Independence Layout, Enugu residence, together with board members and members of the Organising Committee.

Perhaps the most memorable highlight of the evening was the segment when the young artists gushed with gratitude as they told the stories of their journey to LIMCAF and the prizes they eventually won.

In his brief farewell speech, Elder Kalu implored the young men and women to show their gratitude more by exemplary conduct, open-minded learning, and full participation while in Senegal as ambassadors of both LIMCAF and Nigeria, and he described them as proud beneficiaries of a policy of reward for merit regardless of origin or gender.

Elder Kalu noted that it was a thing of joy and pride for all who have assiduously invested their time and energy to keep LIMCAF going over the past 15 years, to be associated with the heights they have so far attained, and hoped that LIMCAF and its sponsors would continue to invest in the career and economic empowerment of young people from all over the country for many more years to come.

Meanwhile, a statement signed by the LIMCAF’s art director, Dr. Ayo Adewunmi, who incidentally accompanied the prize winners, disclosed that three female artists were among the 18 young artists.

The Dakar trip, from which the artists are due back on Friday, May 27, is only one of several rewards in cash and career-enhancing opportunities on offer every year. It is a special sponsorship by Emeritus Professor El Anatsui, who is also one of LIMCAF’s two patrons. The other patron is Igwe Nnaemeka Achebe, the Obi of Onitsha, while the Board of Trustees is chaired by Elder K. U. Kalu, former Chairman of Union Bank.

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