By Anote Ajeluorou
Although the Lagos Black Heritage Festival (LBHF) held some three months ago in April, in which some children (nine to 12 years old) took part in a visual art competition, certificates were awarded to the winning pupils and other participants last week Wednesday in a brief ceremony in Lagos. The event was held at the head office of Diamond Bank Plc, Lekki, Lagos, the supporting bank for the competition. It had as theme, ‘Vision of the Child’.
At the function room of the bank on the sixth floor, children, parents, bank officials and other art enthusiasts gathered to witness a ceremony that threw up child artists taking their first steps in creative engagement. The bank’s Group Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer, Dr. Alex Otti, expressed delight at the children’s performance and duly recognised and welcome them to his office.
He thanked them for taking part in the contest, saying, “We took a principled stand to support LBHF, especially because Prof. Wole Soyinka is part of the festival. We believe we are a bank of the future; we have programmes and products that support the future, which belongs to these children, who are our future”.
Otti pledged the bank’s continuing support for the child art section of LBHF.
Soyinka also expressed appreciation at the bank’s partnership with the festival and praised it as a citadel of banking institution. He restated the reason for the festival to include tracing the history of black people and their cultures, and enlivening the contemporary history of black people. He stated that the next festival would have its theme on the black presence in Portuguese culture, just as this year’s theme was on ‘The Black in the Mediterranean Blue’, with Italy as focus.
On the theme for the children’s art competition next year, the Nobel Laureate said it would be more focused and tighter, in view of this year’s theme that was wide and open. He then wrote it down, signed it, asked GMD/CEO, Otti to also counter-sign it. He then sealed the envelop and handed it over to the GMD/CEO to store away in their bank vaults for safe keeping. He didd not disclose the topic for next year's competition, saying he did not want the children in attendance to have undue advantage over their counterparts who might want to be part of the competition. He assured that the theme would be made known to all at the same time at a latter date.
Apart from the customised LBHF laptops the children received, the best six child artists got cash prices as well for their artistic efforts. Akinola Ibukunoluwa of Methodist Girls, Yaba, who came first, got N120,000, while Doyinsola Akinwande of Apostolic Faith, Anthony, came second and got N100,000 cash. Lotanna Nnoli of Chrisland Schools, VGC came third and got N80,000 cash.
On developing child talent, Festival Secretary, Foluke Michael said, “We must also encourage, provide the right environment for children to grow so that we can get the best from them. Parents should encourage their children to go beyond studying mathematics and physics, but also develop interest in other subjects; they should not ignore any talent discovered in their children”.Other dignitaries present at the event included directors of the bank, Mr. Victor Ezenwoko, Mr. Uzuoma Dozie, Soyinka’s wife, designer of Freedom Park and Mr. Theo Lawson.