When arts community feted Nnimmo Bassey
It was indeed an evening of tributes recently when the arts community celebrated the poet, environmentalist, writer, architect and humanist, Nnimmo Bassey, who turned 61.
Aside from the rain of tributes, it was also an opportunity to seek a way out of the peculiar environmental problems in Nigeria.
Themed, Arts Meet Environment, the event attracted high net worth guests and the literati.
Explaining the idea behind the event’s thematic preoccupation, Bassey said: “Art is life, environment is life, if the art does not capture what goes on in the environment, the environment cannot be adequately protected. So, art is a tool for environmental protection and a protected environment ensures a vibrant workforce, vibrant citizenship and a healthy nation with a future.”
He added, “the time we live in is so complex and so vicious that a lot needs to be done. This is indeed not a time to get old, so for me, 61 is a call to action and not to relent.”
He further said that the Nigerian environment has been thrashed so badly and government has paid very little attention to this. “It is time for government to wake up to the fact that without a safe environment, our people cannot grow to their best potential. An unsafe environment equates doom for the nation; so, the government cannot afford to turn a blind eye to the environment. Every part of this nation has a peculiar environmental problem, from the north, south, west and east, there’s one big challenge or the other that cannot be swept under the carpet,” he said.
In his keynote titled, Arts, Humanity and the Search for Justice, the polemic, poet and former president of Association of Nigerian Authors (ANA), Odia Ofeimun, said: “The way we defend our environment, defends us. The solution to all the problems we have, as a nation is education. The less the number of people you educate, the less the number of people you can save. Nigerians need to read Obafemi Awolowo carefully and forget that he was a Yoruba man. To save Nigeria environment, we must educate everyone below age-50 who is not educated enough to have a factory job at least and to create a good society, we need people who are organised enough to actualise that.”
Ofeimun added that art is creativity and creativity betters life. “Without telling our stories, we cannot build a bright future. If you cannot tell, it does prove that you can’t think and at such cannot narrate. The connectivity of the human brain box is what brings about artistic creativity. Art creates a sense of common humanity that cannot be deployed. It is not the pursuit of a good life that an artist seeks but the narration of how they have scaled the hurdles of life. So the solution to human problems lies in the appropriate use of language, apt narration and use of metaphor,” he enthused.