By NBF News
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Children from various nursery and primary schools in Ibadan, Oyo State, were recently gathered at the premises of the Yoruba Academy, a non-profit pan Yoruba socio-cultural organization in Old Bodija, for a workshop aimed at celebrating Yoruba artistic heritage and creativity in children.

The workshop marked the opening of a month-long arts exhibition dubbed 'Mother and Child Arts Exhibition' (Omo Lere) organized in conjunction with Treasures4life Galleries, also located in Ibadan.

Dr. Iyabo Bashir, the coordinator of the Yoruba Academy, said that the workshop was aimed at creating an avenue to engage the younger generation on values that are significant to the development of the Yoruba people.

Mrs. Mabel Akintola, proprietress, Life Foundation School, Bodija, Ibadan, asserted that Arts is a viable weapon in the war against social vices and low-self esteem among young people: 'Arts is about beauty and the appreciation of life. A child who knows the values of a well tended garden, the beauty and magnificence of a sculpture, or the deep meaning of a painting, would value both plant, animal and human life. He would not abuse a fellow human being physically or verbally. He would see beauty and value in life and always maintain a positive attitude.'

She opined that the Yoruba language and other Nigerian indigenous languages were greatly endangered, because parents wallow in the unfortunate notion that speaking English language and compelling the child to eschew vernacular would make such a child master the language: 'Parents should speak local languages to their children at home. They should realize that a child who can speak Yoruba can also speak fluent English.'

At the workshop, children expressed varying degrees of creativity in songs, dance and fine arts, and were subsequently taken through deeper forms of the arts by young visual artists who also had breathtaking art works on display. They included Tunde Fasasi, Kehinde Olawale and Babatunde Ogunseinde, a musician.

Iyinoluwa Akintola, a 14-year-old award winner at the 'Life in My City' Arts Exhibition held in Enugu in 2009, where she was the youngest participant, recited a poem entitled 'Omo Lere', in consonance with the theme, in fluent and undiluted Yoruba language. Her beautiful poem highlighted the gains in striving to educate a child.

Touched by the applause that greeted the reading of various Yoruba poems, Bashir bemoaned the dying acceptance of the Yoruba language and culture, and attributed the problem to the effect of the major and largest tools of the mass media, being controlled by the western world.

On exhibition were art works of artists in multi faceted media. The works included paintings, life size sculptures and free hand drawings. Young collectors and artists who besieged the venue of the exhibition, created an avenue for the sharing of ideas and experiences.

Fasasi Abeedeen, who had on display a life size sculpture of a mother throwing up her baby playfully, said his elder sister was the source of the work's idea.  The sculpture, which, he said, he could not place a value on, took him a month and a half to make. His medium was a mixture of plaster of paris (POP), paper mache, cement and glue.

Silva Imal, a mentor and teacher to most of the artists, and the curator of Treasures4life, believes that 'the greatest assets in life are humans, and they need to be nourished and tended early in life.'