Retelling UNIBEN’s artistic story…

While an undergraduate at the University of Nigeria, Nsukka, I spent ample time hanging around the Fine and Applied Arts Department. As a consequence, I made a number of friends from around there, who were handy in helping me make sense of some of the pieces in the gallery. In addition, I was privileged to have one of them as next door neighbour at my off-campus apartment; Ugochukwu, my namesake, not only helped me understand what artists actually do by letting me into every new piece on his Artist Diary, but went on to do incredible portraits of me without either pre-informing or asking me for a fee. Charles Ekeanyanwu has always been there to satisfy my hunger for the arts; he explains stuff to me like the great teacher he’s become. Yes, I loved arts, and I still love it. Dearly.

And so, it happened that I visited the University of Benin, UNIBEN, today. UNIBEN happens to have been established in 1970, one of the first generation of Nigerian universities; a university sited in Benin, a town reputed for breathtaking artistry. Of course, I remember that my high school history teacher taught us that the Ancient Benin Kingdom was art personified. In fact, for the Benin people art forms speak louder than a thousand words and a hundred pictures put together. For them, I suppose, art is life. Little wonder every nook and cranny of Benin City is dotted with life art forms – usually of royalty, which is the epicenter of the kingdom; the king here is deity.

Immediately on stepping into UNIBEN’s main gate, I noticed something spectacular. Though ancient in its outlook, it was fine arts galore! However, my sense of art appreciation failed me this once, as I couldn’t notice, talk less of making sense of, the story that was already being told in art forms right from the gate to the convocation arena. Coincidentally, today was convocation day at UNIBEN.

Then came Dubem to the rescue. How could I have come to Benin if not that I’ve either got stuff to tidy up here or know someone who lives here? In this case it was Dubem, a friend with a touch of difference, a friend like few others, and a friend indeed. We’re at UNN together. The long and short of it all is that Dubem, GCFR we call him, is now a masters degree student at the University of Benin. Dubem was my tour guide, so to speak. And then he called my attention to this…


And then to this…


And again to this…


And yet again to this…


There is yet another one…


And then the very last one, the 6th one, right in front of the convocation arena…


This is an interactive post; let us reason together. Kindly take a 2nd, 3rd, 4th, or even a 5th look at all six images and say what you observed or think on the comment box. What message do you think those 6 images lined up from the gate to the convocation arena is passing across? The most satisfactory answer gets a prize from Dubem; he’s the judge too. A book mailed to you. That’s the prize. And those who know Dubem will tell you his word is his bond.


3 thoughts on “Retelling UNIBEN’s artistic story…

  1. At the entrance to the school one don’t know what he/she is made of (wch is shown by the 1st pix), but as you go on the system will drill you and bring out the greatness in you. (the last pix with that symbol of greatness exposed) Analytically the 2nd to the last pix represents when one is at the edge of graduation at dat point he/she must have seen a bit of who he is but after graduation which is represented by the last pix, the system has gone deep into you and will clearly see in full his greatness. Cheers

    Liked by 1 person

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