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In Enugu, Biafra resonates in Uche Okeke’s art works



UCHE Okeke, a guru in art and a contemporary artist, has been described as one of the greatest artists that propagated the Biafran struggles and agitations using his art works in various exhibitions in many oversea countries, particularly, Germany.

Speaking in an art talk organised by National Gallery of Art (NGA), Enugu, in collaboration with Prof Ozioma Onuzulike, who is on sabbatical in the establishment, Rebecca Wolff noted that Okeke’s exhibition in Germany during the period of war depicted the massacre of a people called Biafrans and the injustices meted to them.

Wolff, an Art Historian, currently undergoing her doctorate programme at the University of California, Los, Angeles, stated that most of Okeke’s art works contributed to about 80 percentage of German’s sympathy to the people of Biafra.

“Informed by his exhibition in the early 60s and late 60s, many German’s were attracted to the plight of Biafra and many media organisations both print and electronic highlighted the exhibition to their audience and most of the art works are currently in a few museums in Germany for the public to see,” she stated.

According to Rebecca Wolff, who is writing her dissertation on art related to the Nigerian civil war, there were conflicts on understanding who and who were Biafrans, many thought they were mainly Christians from Igbo extraction, but she said that the exhibition also helped in not only raising awareness about Biafra and their struggle for independence but served as forum to attract fund or aids for the then Biafran group, adding that many protests were staged by some youths and students of Biafran origin in Germany.

The art talk also witnessed a short story from Ossie Enekweh: The Last Battle and Other Stories read to the audience by Dina Yerima, a writer and scholar of literature and post colonial studies at the Department of English and Literary Studies, University of Nigeria, Nsukka (UNN).

Wolff also observed that the government of Germany disclosed to the Nigerian government that the people of Germany were in support of the Biafran side, stressing that even their actions showcased, adding that  her research showed that Biafra was not an Igbo issue; but a struggle for justice, fairness, good governance and eradication of poverty in the nation.

Speaking also, the Head of Department of Fine and Applied Art, UNN, Dr.Chijioke Onuora commended Rebecca Wolff for engaging in the Nigeria Civil war as her doctorate programme and dissertation, noting that comprehensive work or study has not been carried out on Uche Okeke’s exhibition in Germany, titled ‘Kunst and Kunsthandwerkaus Biafra’.

He urged Nigerian artists and Journalists to do more research on the exhibition and other historical paintings to educate the children.

In an interview with our correspondent after the event, the Curator and Head of Station of National Gallery of Arts, Enugu, Mrs Pat Nkwocha said that the gallery had witnessed upsurge in activities and love for arts since her assumption of office by the people because of the grace of God and the number of committed staff working with her.

Many Artists and lovers of arts graced the occasion.

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