I havent written anything in three days……not because i dint have anythng on my mind, this particular issue has been on my mind for about a week, but its the same old excuse……good old laziness plus the fact that my internals have been playing havoc on my entire body system lately, maybe i need to ease off on this quest of getting fleshy of mine.
Anyways, I’m back in form or atleast, I can manage. So, back to the matter at hand, I am concerned for the future of African art, specifically Nigerian art. You know, Africans happen to be one of the most artistic human beings if not THE most artistic. I’m going to step on some artistic toes here because lets face it, art isnt really my turf but i do have to get this out of my mind. How is it that we have been brainwashed into thinking that our own heritage and arts are primitive but those of the western world are the greatest? Think about it. Worldwide, when you’re asked to mention the greatest works of art, those that would come to mind would probably be the works of Da vinci, Picasso and whoever even though, most of us have never actually set eyes on these masterpieces. Ever wondered why? not to worry, I’m guilty of the same thing because I’ld jump at the chance of going to the Louvre museum or whats it called in France to see the original version of the mona lisa or the last supper which i think is in Italy. The reason everyone is so eager to go and see these paintings is because of the hype that surrounds them or what I like to call the artful ‘marketing’ of these masterpieces, they are not just mere pieces of painting, they were painted by the best of the best of all time, they are centuries old and have been preserved almost to perfection, they have been stolen on a number of occasions and recovered. Believe it or not, some of the custodians of these works will gladly lay down their lives to protect the paintings. Dan Brown’s novel ‘The Davinci code’ no less added to the hype surrounding these painitngs…i wonder, like most do if there is any element of truth in his claims and i wouldnt pass an opportunity to see for myself if Mona Lisa’s smile is really mischievous and knowing or if she’s really God forbid….androgenous!
Anyway, I digress, what sparked this ramblings is the fact that a work by Monet who i believe is a french artist was auctioned at a whopping price of £41, 000! what? for a piece of painting? you need to see these stuffs, there are a couple of his works hanging on the walls at my uni (no doubt some of their most priced possessions) and they dont look that spectacular to me to be honest. It just got me wondering, if people can pay so much for a painting, how much will they be willing to pay for African works of art that are centuries old and that took even more energy and imagination that just putting brush on a cardboard….
What is really pathetic is that we Africans dont even value our heritage as much as we should. We go about giving some of our most priced possessions to foreigners who do not even appreciate the meaning of it, we do not take the time to enlighten the world on the meanings of our art, our traditions and heritage. It is not surprising then that most documentries on African art are done by researchers from Europe and the U.S, so others are more interested in our own heritage than we are and in all fairness to these people, they have made tremendous efforts to bring Africa to the world but no one can interprete our art, respect it and be proud of it like the people who own it. Art, if strategically managed can be a source of unlimited revenue to its custodians and origin, the western world have known this for ages and have been cashing in on this for as long as I can remember and i dont think its too late for Africans to do same. The only African country that has been successful in doing this is Egypt, with their magnificent pyramids and mummies that have been carefully preserved for ages, those guys are smart….its almost like they knew that these important parts of their heritage were sound investments that would bring them wealth in future, so what did they do? they enlightened us on the meanings of the arts, they invite us to come see them, they guard them the tightest security and even though you’ve seen the arts, they’re still as mysterious as ever so you’l definitely keep coming back to marvel at them, see….marketing!
I can only hope that one day…….Nigeria will be able to sell a work of art by Bruce Onabrakpeya( which might be just as good as a monet with lots of advertising and hyping) for millions and the world will be able to appreciate the inspiring works of art of the Nok culture, the igbo ukwu, the clay statues of Esie and many more unsung works of art that have world class status…..and it will happen, believe me.