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Pupil Artist Smiles Home with N250,000 at Painting Competition

The need to encourage creativity in pupils comes to fore again as 11-year-old, Anjola Olanrewaju, wins a painting competition at the Lagos Black Festival Heritage, OLALEYE ALUKO writes

The first and second place winners, Anjola and Joseph, with Prof. Wole Soyinka, and other dignitaries during the prize presentation ceremony.

The first and second place winners, Anjola and Joseph, with Prof. Wole Soyinka, and other dignitaries during the prize presentation ceremony.

If creativity is by stature, then Anjola Olanrewaju does not look like one who is a winning artist.

But the slim and fair-complexioned pupil proved many critics wrong at the Vision of the Child painting competition entitled “The Rule of Law and the Law of Impunity” as she emerged victorious after beating many others in the keen contest.

The competition, a component of the Lagos Black Heritage Festival, started first week in April, while its award ceremony held last Friday at the Civic Centre, Victoria Island, Lagos.

Anjola, a pupil of the Master’s Hand Academy, Badagry, Lagos, outstanding painting, according to the judges, vividly and impressively captured the theme of the painting competition. For this, she received N250, 000 cash.

Explaining the inspiration behind the artwork that saw her to victory, emotion-laden Anjola, notes, “My painting was all about the tree which stands for the law of impunity, and the land which stands for the rule of law where things are meant to grow. Yet, the law of impunity, the tree, was uprooted from the ground, and began to step on things meant to grow – education, economy, banks, and aviation, among others.”

She adds that impunity has waxed stronger than all the sectors of the country, so none of them can develop, as they should.

When asked what she would do with her cash prize, the excited girl responds, “I have not thought about that yet. But I feel very great. We were nine from my school that participated, but I am glad to have won.”

The Nobel Laureate, Prof. Wole Soyinka, who is the festival’s consultant, in his remarks, stresses the need to encourage creativity in young pupils and stretch their minds to achieve excellence.

“When we embarked on this project, some thought that the theme was very challenging and that we were pushing the children too far. From time to time, we give them an opportunity to express themselves in a unique way and to hone their creativity skills,” he says.

Soyinka adds that young talents must be stimulated to do much more and prove that they are equal to tasks assigned to them.

In an interview, Anjola’s father, Mr. Babatunde Olarenwaju, says he is not surprised that his daughter won, considering her past records of artistic excellence.

“Actually, the mother is an artist. She draws very well too, and Anjola is the only child who has taken after her. So when we discovered her passion for drawing and painting, what we did was simply to guide her in line with her interest, and encourage her for any arts competition,” he explains.

According to him, her daughter, though in Junior Secondary School Class 2, has participated in several competitions and won laurels in most of them. Anjola is also said to have put in for an international arts competition where she was not able to travel for the awards, but she did excellently well too.

Other young talents that participated in the painting competition are Okey Joseph, a pupil of Apostolic Faith Secondary School, Anthony Village, Lagos who came second, and Hodonu Mayowa from Beulah Comprehensive College, Badagry with the third-position prize.

In a paper titled, ‘The Role of Art Education in Nigeria’ published in the African Journal of Teacher Education, Dr. Bojor Enamhe of the Cross River University of Technology, Calabar, Cross River State, argues that creative art helps the child’s total development.

“The significance of art in the development of a child cannot be debated. Art is a tool subject, and through it, the child understands and his thoughts become clearer. These visuals and illustrations also back up the process of learning,” she states.

According to the don, the challenges of creative art include discouragement from most parents and inadequate art facilities in schools.

“Parents continue to discourage their children from studying arts insinuating that art is for lazy people and for those who cannot do well in life,” she writes.

Also, a painter and graphic designer, Mr. Ayeola Ayodeji, says although art is taught in schools, it is generally inborn, and should be nurtured when discovered in young minds.

“I finished from the Yaba College of Technology, Lagos, but I started doing art since childhood. So it is inborn, and such should be encouraged in school pupils,” he notes.

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