Saturday, June 29, 2013


10 Nigerians billed for deportation from Equatorial Guinea set free

President Mbasogo holds Nigeria in high esteem –Jonathan’s envoy to Malabo, Amb Bassey

By MAURICE ARCHIBONG

Minister of Foreign Affairs, Amb Gbenga Ashiru.
PHOTO: MAURICE ARCHIBONG. Copyrights Reserved.
President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan’s envoy to Malabo, Ambassador Sunday Benjamin Bassey, has lauded President Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo of Equatorial Guinea for the latter’s magnanimity, which prompted the release of 10 Nigerian illegal immigrants, who were in detention and billed for deportation.

In an exclusive telephone chat with Travels, the Nigerian Ambassador to Equatorial Guinea, who confirmed the development, also revealed that, on behalf of President Jonathan, he had since despatched a letter of gratitude to President Mbasogo in appreciation of his kind gesture, which sources described as unprecendented.

It could be recalled that President Jonathan was in Malabo, Equatorial Guinea for two days, March 21 and the 22nd, for a regional summit. During that visit, the Nigerian President had put in word on behalf of the distraught immigrants. Consequently, in an uncommon show of benevolence, President Mbasogo had ordered the release of the 10 Nigerian immigrants, whose deportatation was already fixed for a date before the beginning of April, this year.

Speaking further, Amb Bassey enthused: “Prior to the detainees’ release, the host minister of national security said such gesture had never before been extended to any illegal immigrant from any other country by Equatorial Guinea”.

Pressed for his take as to why the President of Equatorial Guinea made this unique exception for the Nigerians, Amb Bassey reckoned: “I believe President Mbasogo ordered the release of those 10 detainees because of the high esteem and respect in which he holds President Goodluck Jonathan and Nigeria”.

Countless immigrants, many of them without necessary travel documents, wash into Equatorial Guinea daily. And, with indigenes numbering less than one million in this oil-rich nation, it is easy to understand, why authorities of Equatorial Guinea take serious view of illegal immigrants and the security challenge some of them could pose to this country of barely 28,000sqkm land area.

Concluding, Bassey reasoned: “Due to the small size of the population of Equatorial Guinea, the government is determined to keep influx of immigrants to the barest minimum”.

Foreign Minister, Dr Gbenga Ashiru.

Thursday, June 27, 2013


Niger-Delta Youth Council (NDYC) honours NTDC DG

NTDC DG, Mrs. Mbanefo, receiving the award from NDYC President, Ovuomarawu. PHOTO: NTDC Press
Members of the Niger-Delta Youth Council (NDYC), led by its President, Comrade Godwin Ovuomarawu, has presented an award of excellence, tagged Symbol of hope and inspiration to the Nigerian Youth, to the Nigerian Tourism Development Corporation (NTDC) Director General, Mrs. Sally Mbanefo.

The NDYC made the presentation during their visit to Nigeria’s Tourism Village (NTDC Headquarters) in Abuja recently. Comrade Ovuomarawu, an engineer, while extolling Mrs Mbanefo, said her profile in the private sector is impressive and expressed the hope that the NTDC DG would replicate the feat at her current post.

While explaining that the NYDC aims at integrating all youths of the Niger Delta to contribute meaningfully to the development of the region; Ovuomarawu added: “We are here today to recognise you as a well-meaning Niger Delta personality, who has contributed an inestimable quota in the service of our great country”.

Comrade Ovuomarawu again: “We see you as a role-model and a source of inspiration to every Nigerian youth. (Your success is proof) that through diligence and hard-work, the sky shall only be our stepping point. While you committed yourself diligently to the service of humanity, even in the private sector, maybe you never realised that the eyes of the Niger Delta youths were watching keenly. But, this award should help relay to you how much your positive impacts are felt by the Niger Delta Youths across the Nation”.

In her response, while receiving the award on behalf of her team, Mrs Mbanefo promised not to let the youths down and assured them of continued support and collaborations in the drive towards consolidating on efforts aimed at youth empowerment.
While congratulating the NDYC on the initiative, the NTDC DG, who said she was truly impressed; reiterated her interest in women and youth empowerment. Concluding, Mrs. Mbanefo reminded that over many years, she had worked, and continues to work, with youths all over the country.

School Zik, Eyo Ita, Ogunsanya attended to become National Monument

By MAURICE ARCHIBONG

Plans are afoot to make the Hope Waddell Training Institution (HWTI), fondly called Howad, a national monument; according to Mr. Oluremi Adedayo, Director of Heritage, Monuments and Sites at the National Commission for Museums and Monuments (NCMM).

Although Howad, which will clock 120 years old in barely 24 months, is not among Nigeria’s current 65 Declared National Monuments, it deserves to be one in terms of history, heritage and monuments et cetera. Founded in 1895 by functionaries of the Church of Scotland (Presbyterian) Mission, Howad is located on Diamond Hill in Calabar, capital of Cross River State.

This elite institution is named in honour of the Reverend Hope Masterton Waddell. However, the man never got to know of this memento to his contribution as he died a few days after the decision to name the school after him was reached.

A recall of Howad ex-students easily sheds light on the monumental impact this school has made. The late Rt. Hon. Dr Nnamdi Azikiwe, Nigeria’s first president; Prof Eyo Ita, elected leader of then Eastern Government of Nigeria in 1951; Eze Akanu Ibiam, medical practitioner, missionary and later, Eastern Region Governor; Prof Eni Njoku, founding VC (Vice Chancellor), University of Lagos; Dennis Osadebay, politician, journalist and Premier of then Mid-Western Region; Vice Admiral Edet Akinwale Wey, a former Chief of Naval Staff and later Chief of Staff Supreme Headquarters; and, Dr. Kingsley Ozumba Mbadiwe, late politician; all passed through Howad.

Interestingly, students also came from other parts of Nigeria. For instance: Otunba Adeniran Ogunsanya, a former Commissioner of Education, Lagos State; was a product of Howad. Similarly, another Lagosian, Chief Torch Taire, art collector extraordinaire and MD of Stanley Torch Limited also attended HWTI.

Howad is, indeed, unique in many respects. Howad was the first secondary school in the entire area that made up the now-defunct Eastern Region; namely: The States of Abia, Akwa Ibom, Anambra, Bayelsa, Cross River, Ebonyi, Enugu, Imo and Rivers. Although HWTI is believed to be among the five oldest secondary schools in Nigeria, the Calabar-based College is the only one still standing on its original grounds with several ancient structures extant.

Howad is also unique because it was on its premises two games, football and cricket, were first played in Nigeria. The latter, was first played in Nigeria in 1903, while first football game in Nigeria took place within HWTI compound a year earlier; in 1902.

“After Reverend Thompson, the founding Principal; his immediate successor, Reverend Luke, was the man who brought the game of football to Nigeria. Football came to Nigeria in 1902 and a year after, Mr. F.A. Foster, a West Indian, brought the game of cricket to Calabar in 1903. Although most of you may not know this, the first game of football to be played in Nigeria took place on Hope Waddell grounds in Calabar. In fact, until the 1930s, football was commonly referred to as ‘Calabar Game’ by Nigerians in other parts of this country”; Pa Efiong Ukpong Aye, a one-time student and later two-time principal of HWTI, told me during a 2010 interview.

Some of these and other facts are laid bare in Hope Waddell Training Institution: Life and Work, 1894-1978, a volume published in 1986 by Messrs Paico Limited Press and Books. Chief Aye (now deceased) is author of this book.

Furthermore, although Nigeria’s first-ever newspaper, Iwe Irohin, was published in 1859 by Henry Townsed, another famous missionary in Abeokuta, capital of today’s Ogun State in the country’s south-western parts; the first English language newspaper ever printed in Nigeria, Calabar Observer, was launched by Hope Waddell in 1903. Interestingly, the printing machine that used to roll off Calabar Observer can be viewed at HWTI.

In an exclusive chat with mauricearchibongtravels, Mr. Adedayo reminded that his department has two publications, one of which lists the 65 Declared National Monuments. The second volume, he added, is a collection of proposed National Monuments. The latter originally comprised 24 sites but these have been reviewed upwards to 100, in view of Nigeria’s forthcoming centenary celebrations.

Interestingly, Hope waddell Training Institution, Calabar, CMS Grammar School and Kings’ College, both in Lagos; Queens’ College, Ilorin; and, the First Primary School in Northern Nigeria in Lokoja; are among other institutions in this revised list.

Sunday, June 23, 2013


Founded in Nigeria by Church of Scotland Mission, Hope Waddell alumni celebrate Alma mater in America

By MAURICE ARCHIBONG

Form Five B, Class of 1972. PHOTO: HWOSA-NA
In barely 24 months, Hope Waddell Training Institution (HWTI) or Howad as the school is fondly called will clock 120 years old. Founded in 1895 by functionaries of the Church of Scotland (Presbyterian) Mission, Howad is located on Diamond Hill in Calabar, capital of Cross River State.

Howad is unique in many respects. It was the first secondary school in the entire area that made up the now-defunct Eastern Region of Nigeria; namely: The States of Abia, Akwa Ibom, Anambra, Bayelsa, Cross River, Ebonyi, Enugu, Imo and Rivers.

The late Rt. Hon. Dr Nnamdi Azikiwe, Nigeria’s first president; Eze Akanu Ibiam, physician and one-time premier of then Eastern Region; Vice Admiral Edet Akinwale Wey, a former Chief of Naval Staff and later Chief of Staff Supreme Headquarters; and, Dr. Kingsley Ozumba Mbadiwe, late politician; all passed through Howad.

Interestingly, students also came from other parts of Nigeria. For instance: Otunba Adeniran Ogunsanya, a former Commissioner for Education, Lagos State; was a product of Howad. Similarly, another Lagosian, Chief Torch Taire, art collector extraordinaire and MD of Stanley Torch Limited also attended HWTI.

Although HWTI is believed to be the third oldest secondary school in Nigeria, the Calabar-based College is the only one, among the country’s three oldest high schools, still standing on its original grounds with several ancient structures extant.

Howad is also unique because it was on its premises two games, football and cricket, were first played in Nigeria. The latter, was first played in Nigeria in 1903, while the first football game in the country took place within HWTI compound a year earlier; in 1902.

“After Reverend Thompson, the founding Principal; his immediate successor, Reverend Luke, was the man who brought the game of football to Nigeria. Football came to Nigeria in 1902 and a year after, Mr. F.A. Foster, a West Indian, brought the game of cricket to Calabar in 1903. Although most of you may not know this, the first game of football to be played in Nigeria took place on Hope Waddell grounds in Calabar. In fact, until the 1930s, football was commonly referred to as ‘Calabar Game’ by Nigerians in other parts of this country”; Chief Efiong Ukpong Aye told me during a 2010 interview.

Chief Efiong Ukpong Aye is a one-time student and later two-time principal of Howad; and, some of this school’s facts are laid bare in one of his books, Hope Waddell Training Institution: Life and Work, 1894-1978. This particular volume was published in 1986 by Messrs Paico Limited Press and Books.

Although Nigeria’s first-ever newspaper, Iwe Irohin, was published by Henry Townsend in 1859 in Abeokuta, capital of today’s Ogun State in the country’s south-western parts; the first English language newspaper ever printed in Nigeria, Calabar Observer, was launched at Hope Waddell in 1903. Interestingly, the printing machine that used to roll off Calabar Observer can still be viewed within Howad premises.

Although Howad is not among Nigeria’s 65 Declared National Monuments, it deserves to be one because in terms of history, heritage and monuments et cetera, this school and its structures boast enough endowments to join the league of Declared National Monuments, to be candid.

Howad ex-students say their school is a global brand. This owes to the fact that, in its halcyon day, the student population of this institution included non-Nigerians like Cameroonians, Sierra Leoneans, Ghana et cetera and even non-Africans from as far away as the Caribbeans.

Every Howad alumnus would tell you that the grooming they got at their Alma mater was excellent as well as uncommon and is therefore, “A proud tradition worth celebrating”. So, for three days; from 5 July to the 7th, Howad alumni in the North American continent will celebrate their Alma mater at Las Vegas Marriot in The State of Nevada, USA.

Naturally, the organisers are Howad ex-students and members of HWOSA-NA (Hope Waddell Old Students’ Association-North America). Although the event is annually held to mark the anniversary of HWOSA-NA Founders’ Day, it also dovetails with US National Day observances, which falls on 4th of July.

Although HWOSA-NA was formally constituted on 2 July, 2004 at a business meeting attended by members from all regions of the United States, the body’s seed was literally sowed by old HWTI students residing in the Washington, DC metropolitan area that year. Subsequently, an inaugural reunion was held at the Crystal Gateway Marriott in Crystal City, State of Virginia during the weekend of the 4th of July, 2004.

The theme for the inaugural reunion was to “increase the boarding capacity at HWTI and funds were raised at the reunion to support the Kitchen renovation project”, recalled Mr. Eno Udo, Executive Committee President of HWOSA-NA. However, HWOSA-NA Reunion 2013 will revolve around the theme, Making a difference, back to the basics-education first.

Members of HWOSA-NA current Executive Committee are Eno Udo, Asuquo Inyang, Steven Ikpim, Mfoniso Eka and Obaji Nyambi; i.e President, Vice President, Secretary, Treasurer and Public Relations Officer (PRO) respectively.

Interestingly, the composition of HWOSA-NA incumbent Board of Directors’ members reflects the school’s cosmopolitan nature since its early days. Roll call: Onye Akwari, Kalada Harry, Sonni Aribiah and Bassey Ekanem (immediate-past President).

Yes, Howad did a lot for these and numerous other US-based technocrats and, not surprisingly, they feel wont to give something back to the institution that laid the foundation upon which they built to arrive at where they are, today. Hear Mr. Udo: “HWOSA-NA is proud to present another exciting three days of fun and nostalgia at its tenth annual reunion in Las Vegas, Nevada. If you had fun or heard about the wonderful time everyone had at last year’s reunion, this year’s reunion promises to be even more exciting. Come and join us in celebrating our Hope Waddell legacy, and share your memories of your Hope Waddell wonder years”.

But, the Howad story is not altogether blighter-free. Like every other educational institution across Nigeria, Howad has also suffered its share of atrophy.

Howad started as a co-educational institution, but it somehow morphed into a boys-only school decades ago. Also, Hope Waddell Training Institution, which began with various sections, including an infant class (Kindergarten?), a primary school and teacher’s training college, alongside a printing press, a bakery, block-making and haberdashery et cetera; now operates purely as a high school that prepares students for West African School Certificate Examination and other external exams.

In its halcyon day, Howad’s haberdashery section had a tailoring unit, while the block-making section produced building components for the Public Works Department (PWD); the printing press published The Calabar Observer; and, the bakery made bread and other pastry sold in Calabar; with the teacher’s training college grooming prospective educators. 

Expectedly, the event will not be entirely about wining and dining: There will be serious deliberations about the state of education in Nigeria as well as the nature of infrastructure at HWTI. For example, the embarrassing state of disrepair of the existing kitchen facilities came to light in 2004.

This state of disrepair of the kitchen facilities was graphically captured by photographs taken by an old-boy of Howad, Ekopimo Ibia, during a personal trip to Nigeria in August of that year. Consequently, a task force was constituted with a view to redressing the situation.

Udo again: “The taskforce approached its assignment by opening up communication lines and investigating the physical and operating conditions of the existing kitchen. Communication was initiated with the Principal and his response highlighted the state of disrepair of the physical condition of that kitchen”.

It would seem that the kitchen was practically finished, going by reports that areas needing immediate attention included: “Replacement of roof structural members and roofing sheets; Replacement of damaged ceiling; Replacement of windows, frames and hardware; Rewiring of entire kitchen; Extensive plumbing and drainage of entire kitchen; Provision of doors and hardware; Provision of kitchen storage; Provision of supervisor’s office and staff changing rooms; Replacement of covered walkway to Refectory and Reconstruction of outdoor kitchen”.

Through contributions and donations the kitchen was subsequently fixed. Now, HWOSA-NA is embarking on new tasks and Udo revealed they could do with public support. With regard to raising funds to continue rehabilitation work at various sections of HWTI, Udo appealed to Nigerian/US-based corporate giants, thus: “As a global brand with significant business interest in Nigeria, we are convinced that you are passionate and deeply committed to building a strong community in Nigeria to create an environment that maximizes the value of your products and services in that country. Informed by that conviction, we request your financial sponsorship to rebuild and restore Hope Waddell Training Institution, Calabar”.

He said that apart from cash, such assistance could also come in kind. These other ways of support could be through event sponsorship, promotion or taking on specific project’s execution such as endowment of department or faculty chairs.

A celebration of the invaluable contribution of the late Chief Efiong Ukpong Aye will also feature in HWOSA-NA Reunion 2013, according to Mr. Udo, who spoke with mauricearchibongtravels. Chief Aye was a son of the late Madam Nsa Essien Eyo and a scion of the legendary Efik sovereign, King Eyo Honesty.

Born in Adakuko, Creek Town on 15 June, 1928; Chief Aye died at the age of 94 on 28 November, 2012. Aye’s mortal remains were buried on Friday, 8 March, 2013 at Hope Waddell Chapel grounds and it is worth noting that his burial date, 8 March, coincided with Hope Waddell Founders’ Day.

Author of 10 books and holder of the National Honour MFR (Member of the Federal Republic), the late Pa Aye was a truly remarkable being. He was one of extremely few Nigerian academics, whose teaching career traversed all tiers of education. Aye taught at different times, primary, secondary and university students; some of whose doctoral theses he supervised.

Invaluable information on HWTI and Chief Aye are available in From the Abyss of Memory: Efiong Ukpong Aye, a biography of the late Pa Aye by Winifred E. Akoda PhD, Department of History and International Studies, University of Calabar.

Admission fees

Although members of the public are welcome to HWOSA-NA 2013 Reunion, only those that registered to attend the event will gain access. Curiosly, whereas each HWOSA-NA member is expected to cough out $100 admission fee, a non-member that is above 25 years of age is charged only $50. Admission is free for everyone younger than 16 years, but each person within the 16-25 age-bracket is expected to pay $25.

Concluding, Udo explained: “HWOSA-NA is organised exclusively for charitable, religious, educational and scientific purposes, including the making of donations to organisations that qualify as exempt organisation under section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code or the corresponding section of any future federal tax code”.

Monday, June 17, 2013

 NTDC launches Nigeria’s new Tourism ID Brand soon
…Watch out for Fascinating Nigeria, July 1
The Minister of Tourism, Culture and National Orientation, Chief Edem Duke; the Director General of the Nigerian Tourism Development Corporation (NTDC), Mrs. Sally Mbanefo; along with other stakeholders will on July 1 launch a new Tourism ID Brand for Nigeria.
Speaking during a visit to NTDC headquarters in Abuja by 14 Senior Student Officers from the National School of Public Policy in Lahore, Pakistan; Mrs. Mbanefo revealed Tourism and Culture Minister, Chief Duke, will on July 1 unveil the country’s new Tourism ID Brand, dubbed Fascinating Nigeria.
The NTDC DG, who was accompanied by other Management Staff, while receiving the Pakistani government officials, added; that aside from Nigeria’s diverse cultural activities, numerous attractions and destinations, the country’s people are very warm. Mrs. Mbanefo subsequently intoned, during the two-hour interactive session, that: “Nigerians’ warmth is perhaps the country’s strongest point”.
Speaking further, the NTDC boss reiterated her primary target, which is to develop domestic tourism as a way of creating wealth, generating employment and by extension, arrest deficient infrastructure and poverty in the country.
The leader of the delegation, Mrs. Seemi Waheed, said the purpose of the visit was to look at how policies are formulated and strategies are made and implemented to meet the national objectives of the countries they are visiting. Mrs. Waheed, who is Chief Instructor at Pakistan’s National School of Public Policy in Lahore, added that, the group intends to spend five days in Nigeria visiting strategic Departments and Agencies.
Mbanefo also seized the opportunity to highlight NTDC’s efforts to develop and promote Nigeria’s tourism potential through enhanced professionalism as well as learning from best practices and increased emphasis on research and results-based projects.
Fielding questions from the Pakistani delegation, Mrs. Mbanefo expressed optimism that cultural, religious, ethnic and sectional divergence will not impede the goal of developing tourism across Nigeria with emphasis on the grassroots.
In response to further probes, the NTDC chief assured that her administration would encourage Public Private Partnerships with a view to addressing infrastructure projects to create the necessary capital to support budgeting with the aim of actualizing financial self-sustainability on the long run.

Oyo Tourism Board visits NTDC

Members of Oyo State Tourism Board, including the body’s Executive Chairman, Eng. Benedict Kayode Ogunwusi; and, Senior Special Adviser to the Governor on Tourism, Chief Abiodun Pomary; visited the headquarters of the Nigerian Tourism Development Corporation (NTDC) recently.
Picture shows NTDC Management and the visiting Oyo State delegation in a group photograph. PHOTO: NTDC
 

Prof Ekpo Eyo Memorial Lecture, July 1

This year’s Professor Ekpo Eyo Memorial Lecture is billed to take place at The Marina Resort, Calabar, Cross River State, from 10am on July 1. According to the Curator of National Museum inside The Old Residency, Sunny Adaka PhD, the title of this year’s Lead Paper is Cross River History and Tourism: A Marriage Contracted in the Womb of Time.
The late Prof Ekpo Eyo. PHOTO:
National Museum Calabar
 
The lecture, by Sandy Onor PhD, Commissioner for Environment; will be chaired by Prof (Amb) Edet Okon Uya. It could be recalled that Prof Ekpo Eyo, the first indigenous Nigerian to head the National Commission for Museums and Monuments (NCMM), initially named Nigeria Antiquity Service, passed on two years ago in Maryland, USA.

Monday, June 10, 2013


In Ghana: Artists’ Alliance Gallery celebrates 20th anniversary
By MAURICE ARCHIBONG

 ‘If we go on like this, in another 20 yrs, what we have would all be gone’ – Prof Ablade Glover

Life is a masquerade by Kofi Setonji. PHOTOS: MAURICE ARCHIBONG
Cultural wealth is one of Ghana’s claim to fame. Kente, one of Ghana’s indigenous textiles, which is well-known across the world and whose designs have been adopted for gift-wrappers, shopping bags et cetera; is among this nation’s cultural icons.
Indeed, another attribute, called Adinkra, must be an even more important symbol of Ghanaian culture. Believe it or not, historians hold the view that aside from hieroglyphs, Pharaohic-era Egyptians’ mode of “writing”, two sub-Saharan Africa communities, Akan and Efik/Ekoi, also had indigenous “letters”. These are Adinkra from Ghana and Nsibidi, both pictographic means of writing.

It is worth noting that, whereas learning of Adinkra was not restricted; with regard to Nsibidi, only initiates of the Ekpe/Mgbe Society, common among the Efik/Ejagham/Etung et cetera of Cross River State, Abiriba and other Cross River Igbos in Abia State as well as Cameroonian clans, among others; were knowledgeable in this art of communication.

Furthermore, Ghanaians boast a respected and vibrant music custom, which spawned Highlife and something called Bonsue. Ghanaian drama tradition and folklore are also very rich as could be gleaned from the countless tricks of Anansewa, the spider, which is the Akan peoples’ equivalent of the tortoise, that classic trickster in the folklore of some Nigerian communities.

Interestingly, however, even though universities in the old Gold Coast have over several decades produced, and are still producing, competent graduates of Fine Art; Ghana does not seem to invoke instant respect through its modern paintings and sculptures as it does through adinkra, textile, drama and music traditions.

The state of affairs regarding Ghana’s Fine Arts sector could be gleaned from the fact that the number of Art Galleries in Accra has actually been dropping over the last 20 years. Yes, a number of galleries have closed shop in the Ghanaian capital. And, some of the extant ones are only holding-on and struggling to keep their heads above water.

Cheeringly, however, reminiscent of a lone star in a cloudy sky, one art gallery in Accra recently threw a party. Welcome to Artists Alliance Gallery, which has survived for 20 years and is still waxing strong. Founded in 1993, Artists Alliance operated inside Omanye House, then located inTeshie-Nungua on the Old Accra-Tema road, until it relocated to its current complex. Unlike the original Omanye House, which was a storey building, today’s Omanye House covers three floors. In the same vein, the current Omanye House, which stands in Labadi on the old road linking the Ghanaian capital, Accra; and, the Port City of Tema; through Teshie-Nungua; boasts an ocean view and a beachside bar.

To celebrate Artists Alliance’s 20th anniversary, an exhibition, Opening our vaults, opened in Omanye House on 19 March, 2013. Apart from Opening our vaults, which was basically the display of Artists Alliance’s Collection, dubbed Contemporary Art Today, An exhibition of (select) leading artists, a cocktail was also thrown in, to make the celebration complete. The indaba continued the following day with exhibition of traditional objects, which included textiles like kente as well as beads and traditional drumming.  

In a nutshell, Opening our vaults featured three generations of artists. Evocative of the brotherly ties that bind Ghanaians and Nigerians, the works of at least two Nigerian artists, Yomi Momoh and an Osogbo-style artist simply identified as Chief Oloruntoba, were among the exhibits at this exposition.

Labour Force by Hilton Mensah.
Although the majority of the over 300 artefacts were paintings, there were also sculptures as well as mixed-media works. The first-floor display comprised works collected by Prof Ablade Glover over the decades, while The Sound of the Fontomfrom, a painting by Rikki Wemegah, rendered in 2010; was one of scores of artefacts on the topmost floor.

The Sound of the Fontomfrom, Mr. Wemegah’s oil-on-canvas painting, which carried a 4,500cedis (roughly $2,250) price-tag, derives from a special drum used by Ghanaians, according to Mr. Ebenezer Taylor, a worker at Artists Alliance, who took mauricearchibongtravels on a guided tour of the exhibition.

Also on the third-floor was Legacy III, a 2012 oil-on-canvas rendition by Nii T. Mills. Currently in his late-40s or early-50s, Mr. Mills’ Legacy III carried a price-tag of 8,000cedis (roughly $4,000). On display on the same floor were Drumbeat and Labour Force, by Hilton Korley and Alfred Mensah respectively. The acrylic-on-canvas Drumbeat, rendered in 2012 cost 2,000cedis (a little lower than $1,000).

Market Place by Krotei Tetteh.
We first encountered Artists Alliance in 1997, during a visit in March, 1997; to report on Ghana’s 40th independence anniversary. Aside Ghana’s political evolution since 6 March, 1957; we had also delved into this nation’s rich culture during that visit. The latter aspect took us to Ghana’s National Museum on Barnes Road, where a commemorative exhibition was running.

That, in a nutshell, is how we got to meet Prof Joe Nkrumah, then Director of Exhibitions at Ghana Museums and Monument Board (GMMB). Sadly, Prof Nkrumah, who would become an invaluable mentor for me, passed on three years ago. Another tragedy for me was the passage of Pa Amon Kotei, a WW II veteran and self-taught artist, famed for his paintings of bulksome women.

Meditative Pose by Wiz Kudowor.
In 2001, Wiz Edem Kudowor, another famous Ghanaian painter, had graciously led me all the way from his Kokomlemle home to Labadi, where we engaged Pa Kotei for roughly two hours. Already an octogenerian then, it was unthinkable that Pa Kotei would live eternally. Nonetheless, his exit left us hurting for long.

Similarly, it was another commemorative display at Artists’ Alliance that led us to know Prof Ablade Glover. Cheeringly, we had visited Prof Glover again in 1999, 2000, 2001 as well as during the exhibition marking the relocation of Omanye House from Teshie-Nungua to Labadi in 2008 et cetera. Happily, Prof Glover is still with us. He is not only alive and well, but still fecund as well.

Prof Ablade Glover.
Meet Artists Alliance arrowhead, Prof Ablade Glover

Born in Accra, Prof Ablade Glover has come a long way, and so has his art as well as gallery in the Ghanaian capital, Accra. Once Dean, College of Art at Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST), Glover also served as Head, Department of Art Education at the same institution.

A Life Fellow of the Royal Society of Art in London, Glover is listed in the Dictionary of Contemporary International Artists, Who's Who in Art and Antiques as well as Who’s Who in the World. Before his retirement from KNUST in 1994, Glover had already attained the position of Associate Professor.

After training dozens of students at KNUST for decades, Prof Glover, who in his younger days had studied art in Ghana, United Kingdom and the United States; retired into setting up Artists’ Alliance; an art gallery-cum-artists’ association. Currently 78 years old, Glover, who will clock 79 years old on 1 August, 2013; still paints. “I still paint”, Prof Glover confirmed.

As to how it has been, running a gallery for 20 years, especially in a city like Accra, where some others had actually folded shop? This is what the retired art don had to say: “It’s been tough, somewhat. Owning a gallery in Africa is no joke. It requires serious commitment. Nonetheless, one can say that we’re moving forward; marching toward growth”.

It is widely believed that an exhibition must serve as a statement. What could be the statement behind Opening our vaults? Glover again: “This celebration is not so much about making a statement. We organised it to tell the world that we survived 20 years and are moving positively forward. I think clocking 20 years, in spite of all the challenges, is worth celebrating”.

Glover added that, organising the outing compelled a review of the past. “It has helped to remind us of the past. We had to do some stock-taking. We’re now looking forward to the future. So far, so good”, he mused.

That stock-taking throws up some saddening parts. When Artists’ Alliance began, some of its now-deceased faithful were still alive. Although the majority of those that started the journey in 1993 are still alive, Prof Glover rued the transition of the few that are no longer here.

Hear him: “Jennifer Myer died in 2010 and in 2011, Amon Kotei followed. Both of them were great painters”. With regard to marching forward, is there any plan to celebrate the 21st anniversary of Artists’ Alliance, next year?

“Let’s hope so. You agree that 21 years is a significant milestone in a human being’s life”, Glover remarked.

Recreation

Some lawyers, accountants et cetera paint or draw as hobby. So, what could Glover, who creates for a living, possibly engage himself with, when he seeks recreation?

“Coming to Omanye House is a big change. It is for me, a break and a refreshing change from my studio environment. Breaking away from the studio and coming here (Omanye House) to handle administration and go through the book (Accounts) helps me unwind”, he revealed.

Rarely does one find a report on Fine Arts in the Ghanaian media. Whereas some segments of the entertainment industry, such as popular music and drama daily enjoy projection, Ghanaian media, electronic and print seem to ignore Fine Arts, and by extrapolation, painters and sculptors.

Over five years ago, we took up this issue with Mr. Nick Kowalski, an art historian and proprietor of Step-in Gallery. While lamenting the situation, Mr. Kowalski recalled: “Once, there was a writer, called Otoo, who wrote some interesting pieces on Fine Arts from time to time. Unfortunately, he too seems to have stopped”.

When we brought up this matter with Glover, the Artists’ Alliance Director lamented: “If anything, the situation has become worse. Sadly, Ghanaian media seem to have no place for Fine Arts. You’d be lucky, if they mentioned you at all, throughout your career”.

Such is the situation that Glover was rather shocked, when a major Ghanaian newspaper ran a report on Artists’ Alliance for the first time in what seems to be eons, in mid-March 2013. Surprise, surprise! Not only did the paper run a story on one day, there was another report on Artists’ Alliance the following day or so in the same medium.

Is it possible that survival of this gallery for 20 years, when other arthouses had practically packed it in, did the trick? Glover could not be sure what prompted that rare favour. But, whatever it was, he probably wished it would continue.

The Artist as Collector

Collecting other people’s paintings or sculptures is not common practice among artists. Although some would love to collect, they often cannot afford that indulgence. Also, many never bother to collect because as artists, they feel they can produce even more-alluring works. Therefore, after going through some 200 artefacts collected by Glover over the decades; we could not, but engage him on the subject of an artist as numismatist.

Indeed, an artist’s collection could help shed some light on his taste and level of appreciation. Interestingly, Glover’s collection feature the works of Amon Kotei, Ato Delaquis, Kwabena Poku, George Hughes, Krotei Tetteh, Oko Matey, J. C. Sarpong; and, Wiz Kudowor’s Meditative Pose, an acrylic-on-canvas piece rendered in 2005.

Patrol by George Hughes.
George Hughes’ work in The Glover Collection is titled Patrol. An oil-on-canvas painting, Patrol was executed in 1998 and has a dimension of 32in x 48in; while Market Place, a charcoal work by the late Krotei Tetteh, is 60in x 48in. Drummer, a bronze sculpture by J. C. Sarpong, which measures 64in x 35in x 35in, was executed in 2005.

As earlier stated, a Nigerian artist, Yomi Momoh, also featured in Opening our vault. Interestingly, Momoh’s work, Seascape, which measures 60in x 48in; is part of Prof Ablade Glover’s Collection.

Mr. Ato Delaquis has two paintings among Glover’s haul. The works, both of them acrylic-on-canvas, are Okra: Soul of the chief and Prof Joe Nkrumah.

The latter, as its title implies, is a portrait of the late Prof Nkrumah, a former director of exhibitions at GMMB. Rendered in 2009, Prof Joe Nkrumah measures 40in x 48in.

Prof Joe Nkrumah by Ato Delaquis.
Why Glover collects

But, why does Glover collect? “We collect because of the circumstances, here. Ghana boasts very few collectors. And, I’m aware that; if we go on like this, in another 20 years, what we have would be gone”.

Glover went on to recall: “That is what happened to our traditional art. Most of our people are so preoccupied with looking for what to eat and where to live, that art hardly crosses their minds. Also, perhaps because they see it everyday, they take things for granted. Our people pay no attention to art. So, today; the best of our traditional art can only be viewed inside American and European museums”.

But, where was Ghanaian museum looking, when the artefacts left town? “Museums must be properly resourced to prosecute their mandate. In most African countries, museums are not properly funded. This is why we feel obliged to intervene”, he explained. 

Glover’s recent works

Glover’s paintings were among the works on display in the First Floor Gallery. Still working at 78, Glover submitted eight paintings to Opening our vault. Though famed for his rooftops paintings, which throw up brilliant colours such as red, yellow and rust-brown; the octet that went on view included Cock Fight, oil-on-canvas (2011), measuring 18in x 54in.

Cock Fight is unique in terms of dimension. Compared to the average size of Prof Glover’s older paintings, Cock Fight could be likened to a miniature. Also, by way of colour, this marine-blue work contrasts with the usual red, yellow and sepia paintings.

And now, typical Glover as regards colour and dimension: Red Forest (2007) 48in x 60in as well as Jubilation (2009) 48in x 60in. Interestingly, four; out of the eight Glovers in question, were tagged. The quartet are Confrontation, Cock Fight, Red Forest and Jubilation.

The Ground Floor gallery, which also consisted of paintings, sculptures and mixed-media; featured, over 100 other artefacts, such as Life is a masquerade; 72in x 36in, a painting by Kofi Setondji in 1993 as well as Hey: Children on rock (2009) by Kofi Agossor with dimension 59.5in x 71in.

Seascape by Yomi Momoh.
Apart from Yomi Momoh, another Nigerian artist that turned up in Opening our vaults is Chief Oloruntoba. We could not get this chief’s full name, whose massive artefact (48in x 94in) was labelled Untitled.

Friday, June 7, 2013


NTDC hosts Pakistanis on study tour

 
Members of a Pakistani delegation on study tour of Nigeria paid a courtesy call on Nigerian Tourism Development Corporation (NTDC) Director General, Mrs. Sally Mbanefo; recently. The visitors were well-received and left with souvenirs courtesy NTDC.

On hand to assist Mrs. Mbanefo attend to the visitors were some NTDC top-brasses, including Hajia Hajara Mohammed, NTDC Director (Marketing & Promotions), NTDC Director (Planning, Research & Statistics), Mrs. Angelina Garuba; and, Deputy Director (Press), Mr. Akin Onipede.

Pictures show the NTDC DG, Mrs. Mbanefo presenting souvenirs to the tourists; and, Mrs. Mbanefo (seated middle, front row) in group photo with select NTDC top-brasses and the visitors, who included Alhaji Muhammad Azhar, Directing Staff, Government of Pakistan; Seemi Waheed, Chief Instructor, National School of Public Policy, Pakistan; and, Amb. Arif Mohammed, Pakistani High Commissioner to Nigeria.

NTDC gets parting gift from NYSC members

In appreciation to the Nigerian Tourism Development Corporation (NYSC), the Batch B members of the National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) on Wednesday, 5 June, 2013; presented a signpost as parting gift to the Corporation, where they served.

Photo below, shows (L-R): Hypolite Olua, Ibezim Helen, Mrs. Sally Mbanefo, DG, NTDC; Imaobong Umoru, Nwosu Linda Onyinyechi and Chima Nneka after unveiling of the Corps members’ gift.
 

Thursday, June 6, 2013


We’ll focus more on transformation of domestic tourism – NTDC DG, Sally Mbanefo

NTDC DG, Mrs. Sally Mbanefo Photo: NTDC
 
The Nigerian Tourism Development Corporation (NTDC) will focus more on transformation of domestic tourism, according to the body’s recently appointed Director General, Mrs. Sally Mbanefo. This came to light from series of her earlier meetings with NTDC management and staff shortly after her appointment.

The incumbent NTDC DG, who assumed office two weeks ago, reportedly outlined the thrust of her focus as “development of the local content”. An NTDC insider that spoke to Travels on condition of anonymity, quoted Mrs. Mbanefo as saying: “Before we can successfully sell the Nigerian tourism brand to the outside world, we must address the domestic market potentials, secure the buy-in and confidence of Nigerians in the sector and get our compatriots to be proud of their tourism heritage and industry”.

Although the meetings mostly revolved around development of the Tourism Value Chain (TVC) across the country to realise the objectives for which the Corporation was set up as well as meeting the core mandate of the supervising ministry of tourism; the NTDC chief added: “The development of the domestic tourism would also entail other core mandates which includes job creation, poverty alleviation and revenue generation”.

Through reliable sources within NTDC, Travels further gathered that “Programmes of the repositioned NTDC, shall be determined and executed in line with the mission of the Tourism Ministry which is engaging with stakeholders to reinvent and reposition Nigerian Tourism sector for the emergence of an integrated, vibrant, globally competitive, skilled, professional and private sector-driven industry”.

The Corporation hopes to achieve these “through strategic international corporation, investment-promotion and a strong regulatory and corporative inter-governmental environment that generates employment and alleviates poverty for sustainable national economic advantage”.

In a brief telephone conversation with Travels, Mrs. Mbanefo actually confirmed the results of our findings; subsequently hinting that NTDC, “working in close partnership with other parastatals shall be implementing the Tourism Master Plan (TMP) geared towards the promotion of Nigeria’s rich tourism potentials through identification, development and marketing of the diverse tourism opportunities”.

Additionally, we were told that “in line with the core-mandate of the supervising ministry, the NTDC shall be active in promoting tourism as a foreign exchange earner, income re-distributor, major revenue earner to the federal government, major employer of labour as well as a catalyst for rural development and poverty reduction”.

Mrs. Mbanefo boasts some 26 years’ private-sector experience acquired in key positions at Keystone Bank Ltd, where she was an Executive Director; Allied Energy Plc (as Group Executive Director); Director, Public Affairs and Communications at Coca-Cola (Nigeria & Equatorial Africa); and, as General Manager of Lafarge Cement Wapco Nigeria Plc.

Given her wide-ranging experience at top executive positions in both national and multinational corporations spanning banking and finance, oil and gas, manufacturing as well as not-for-profit organisations; tourism indistry watchers are hoping Mrs. Mbanefo would tap her decades’-long experience to deliver excellent results in NTDC’s various functional areas.

The NTDC new helmsman hopes to enhance Public Private Partnerships (PPP) as well as collaboration with other parastatals and agencies of the ministry in the development of the country’s tourism potentials. She also expressed interest in poverty alleviation and job creation through the activities of the new NTDC by encouraging the establishment and running of tourism enterprises by the poor and ensuring that profits from tourism benefits the poor.

Her pro-poor programmes, according to NTDC sources, would also ensure that investments in tourism infrastructure benefit the poor in the locality, where such sites are located. Mbanefo will also give high priority to women and youth empowerment as well as support for the underprivileged through tourism entrepreneurship.

While assuring the workers and management that she operates an open-door leadership style that ensures free-flow of communication, fosters team spirit and collective cooperation; the new NTDC chief charged them to prepare to show more accountability, discipline and integrity.

With her promises of staff training, better remuneration and career upliftment across board, Mbanefo hopes to boost staff morale and productivity. She reportedly noted that “a boost in staff morale would go a long way in getting them meet the expectations of the Honorable Minister of Tourism, Culture and National Orientation, Mr. Edem Duke”.

Having earlier expressed utmost confidence in the programmes and plans of the minister for Nigeria’s tourism sector, thus; “the minister has properly interpreted and adapted the overall transformation agenda of the government of President Goodluck Jonathan as it relates to tourism sector of the economy; Mbanefo went on to emphasise: “NTDC would be committed to achieving the set goals”.

Concluding, Mrs. Mbanefo remarked: “The vision of the NTDC shall be interpreted in line with that of the Ministry, which is to reposition Nigeria as the preferred tourism destination in sub-Saharan Africa, offering diverse world-class tourism products geared towards contributing 10% to the GDP through a transformation-driven policy”.
 
By MAURICE ARCHIBONG