Archives for posts with tag: change in Nigeria


The strains of music are close enough for me to make out the shrill voice of the soprano and the strident choir cutting through the greyness of dawn. Its Sunday morning . Read the rest of this entry »


Ibukun Ayoola with visiting students

Ibukun Ayoola with visiting students


As I traveled around Osun state, I heard of a potter taking ceramics to  new heights.

Highly respected by his peers and living quietly in the middle of the rural village of AtamoraIbukun Ayoola was creating fabulous works of art sought after by many.

How curious I thought to myself.




Nestled close to Ode Omu, Wasimi and the town of Gbongan, Atamora Village is 30mins outside the town of Ile Ife in Osun State.  This is the hub from which Ibukun operates.



The Potter`s home

The Potter`s Home



A cross section of pieces from the shop

A cross section of pieces from the ceramics shop


Two minutes off the main highway into the rural farmlands, I marveled at the serenity of the space where Ibukun actually created these exquisite pieces- his working studio and outdoor gallery.

This shaded grove felt like the perfect place to get in touch with creative energies -to be inspired and rejuvenated by nature in a most integral way.


Crowded with beautifully made pottery of all shapes and sizes, the visual effect of the sunlight playing on the green of the trees and  the ceramics was truly stunning.

I felt I was just simply going to “ lift off” into ceramic wonderland.



Ceramic wonderland

Stunning outdoor gallery


Looking around, I completely understood the phrase “working studio and gallery”. This space was as much evolving as it was dynamic.

I saw the largest potter`s wheel, it  simply loomed as Ibukun explained in meticulous detail and demonstration, the process from earth to exquisitely sculptured object.


The giant potter`s wheel

The giant potter`s wheel


Inside the workshop with Ibukun

Inside the workshop with Ibukun









It all happened here-the thinking, the making, the technical completion and the celebration of art.

The outside space was a spontaneous gallery where  finished pieces were exhibited and shared with visiting teachers, students and  enthusiasts like myself.


In various states of the creative process were students from  the local university and further out. They were all  completely engrossed by the intelligence of the man- asking questions, making notes, digging the mud pits, sifting clay and experimenting with clay bricks.

Experimenting with making hybrid bricks from clay and other materials.

Experimenting with making hybrid bricks from clay and other materials.


All in all,  it was clear that Ibukun Ayoola was no layman mucking about in the clay.

This was a man who understood his talent. He understood his medium, his materials and the power of creativity to inspire and generate even bigger ideas.

Importantly, Ibukun understood his responsibility to teach what he knew to a new generation of youngsters who all held him in very high esteem. I was impressed.

Two commissioned huge ceramic vases ready to be delivered somewhere special.

Two unusually large ceramic vases – commissioned and ready to be delivered somewhere special.

As the day slowly came to a close, Ibukun shared some of his struggles to get to this point where what he had to show as evidence of his talent was more than just ideas locked in his brain.
It had clearly been an eventful journey but he was determined to hold fast to his dreams.

Artists like Ibukun Ayoola and Gbolade Omidiran inspire me with their honesty, hard work  and  tenacity  to go after visions greater than themselves.





Read more about Gbolade here An Afternoon With Gbolade Omidiran

If you don’t like something, change it.  If you can’t change it, change your attitude. Maya Angelou

 In typical ” Naija” fashion, many voices gyrated unceremoniously ( all at the same time, I might add) in passionate response to the question: if you could fix one thing and one thing only in Nigeria , what would it be?

We all mostly know how it works.

Everyone has an elaborate opinion as to what needs fixing in Nigeria- yet it’s never quite one which can be explained in a few clearly articulated sentences.


Nonetheless, on this occasion, I was determinedly at odds with everyone else. My answer, unlike the group favorite, did not lie with executing a line of corrupt Nigerian leaders in a ” Rawlings-like” coup, or a French Revolution style rebirth in the cold light of day. The way forward  in my view, lies not with our leaders but with us- the general populace and Nigerians in the diaspora. We  who think so little of ourselves as agents of change that we cannot demand more from those  we have democratically elected to  serve and protect us.

Well, after spending most of the evening not really listening to each other but happily  spouting individual theories of change, the rhetoric exhausted, we moved on to other matters…as we do.


A few days later, quite unexpectedly, two things happened in quick succession  .

First I read Okey Ndibe’s typically scathing but deeply thoughtful article : ” Again, A Case of Uncounted Billions” (

Despite the wrenching weight of hyperbole which hit home in the first few lines, I had to shake my head in vigorous agreement – the truth of his assertions seemed completely undebatable.


That Nigeria has been and continues to be mostly  blighted by a continuum of “small minded” political leaders who scuttle along in nonsensical but highly destructive self -gratifying labyrinths of darkly corrupt networks, nefarious wheeling and dealing and blatant cronyism is a truth well corroborated in Mr Ndibe’s article.

That these same leaders are propped up by a psyche completely disconnected from notions of service  is a view that many of us, in our collective social pods have come to accept and discuss. In strident voices  we writhe in what sometimes feels like a cauldron of  overwhelming frustration.

vanguard inec cartoon

However, what really got me gasping in total discomfort  was Mr Ndibe’s  statement that: ” many Nigerians, one suspects, are hostile to the deep thinking that is a precursor to remarkable transformation”. 

Many Nigerians”? Surely, the man could not be referring to me as part of  that dubious herd? Then, the second event .I clicked on a link which took me here: ke?


There they were,  the well knitted, highly stimulating documentaries put up on Youtube by  and Public Integrity Networks (PINS) in  2012  to promote the message of civil action against corruption.

Here was a civil organization proactively  instigating a platform  akin to  having a civilized debate about  conquering the culture of corruption in Nigeria.

Shockingly, out of an estimated 150 million potential  “Nigerian” viewers in this new age of an internet savvy audience, I was only among the first handful of people to view these videos almost two years after being posted online.


Why wasn’t this campaign being highlighted, talked about and debated back and forth by the Nigerian media to at least  begin a series of conversations which people could pick up and maybe run with?

Why hadn`t any of my 458 FB friends posted or shared any of these videos on their page in the last 2 years?

In fact, with all my self-acclaimed interest in a progressive Nigeria, why had I not heard about or come across these very engaging clips?

119460-117532 frustration
My mind churnedThe penny dropped.  

The picture of inertia which emerged had me brooding dis-quietly for days. Clearly, it’s not just  our  leaders who are really far gone. In all honesty, it appears to me that through a distinct lack of proactive acumen, we, the so called educated elite may be slipping down the abyss of “all words-no action” so steadily  that  we may become part of the problem of Nigeria.

Therefore, as we look to a future Nigeria we rhetorically  insist on being a part of, we must envision a country that we can all collectively  take responsibility for shaping and steering as much in actions as in words.

Less talk. More work.

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