WANGBOJE'S LEGACY AND THE ARTS
SIR: We refer to an article in The Guardian of December 3, 2010 page 40, an article written by one Mufu Onifade with the title: 'When a Gallery Destroys its Progenitor's Legacies.' The article was written in bad faith, it is defamatory and malicious. We demand a retraction and an apology.
What your reporter failed to realise is that the Gallery space was given to artists free of charge (as we believe in helping) as they were desperate for space and we were busy with another programme outside the gallery. The fact that the artists ran a bit late in organising themselves at the opening was not enough for your reporter to try to destroy the unique effort in setting up the Gallery and naming it after the late Prof. S. I. Wangboje who is the father of the undersigned and owner of the Gallery.
The exhibition still took place but your reporter was impatient and left before the opening. He promised to come back but did not. He was more interested in meeting the Gallery operators (one wonders what he wanted from them), when the artists had told reporters that they were the one organising their show. The act of kindness of the Gallery operator in granting exhibition space in giving the whole Gallery space and the courtyard of the Shopping Mall (which is usually paid for) for the artists to exhibit their works for eight days, seems to be lost on your reporter who we understand is also an artist and a school mate of both artists.
We believe he had a personal vendetta against the artists and the Gallery. Does he know what it is to keep an Art Gallery open for 14 years? Does he know the cost of commercial space in Ikoyi? Has he ever run a business where he had to employ labour? Is this the way to encourage art development? Why try to destroy the careers of his fellow artists and friends? These are questions you and your reporter need to answer.
Your paper is one we always considered amongst the best, so we are surprised that there was no editing done on this your reporter's article. Invariably your newspaper has followed our programmes which we have been having in the Gallery from inception in the later part of 1995. Two of such programmes are: The Professor S. I. Wangboje Foundation set up by the Gallery which has had two programmes. We had one in 2008. We also had one programme in 2009. Both were covered by your newspaper as well as other papers. We do not now understand why a little lateness in organising an event will now elicit such venomous criticism which we believe is quite unprofessional from your reporter.
We have sponsors for our Foundation and have been working with them on our next outing. What will now be their attitude to us after such a report has been made in your paper? After all, we did not embezzle government money; we did not embezzle money belonging to a bank; we did not embezzle money belonging to the National Art Gallery (which is still part of government).
We have used our own funds to promote Art and we do not believe that your reporter has the right to put us down or try to destroy what we have worked very hard to build in the past 14 years. In what way are we destroying the professor's name? He was always interested in helping artists and what we have done is in line with his legacy.