Ijalobomo’s PHCN-II continues art of revival for Nigeria
February 28, 2022
Osa Amadi, Arts Editor
Seven years after an anonymous signature, Ijalobomo, made his debut on the Lagos art exhibition circuit, the masked artist is back. Again, the artist continues his content of Save Nigeria series.
In 2015, Ijalobomo launched his art of revival with a solo exhibition titled: PHCN (Please, Help Change Nigeria), shown at Red Door Gallery, Victoria Island, Lagos. From February 26-March 12, 2022, Ijalobomo will show PHCN-II at Didi Museum, Victoria Island, Lagos, with a sub-theme woven around the Raiders or Braiders mentality.
Ijalobomo, in the sub-theme announced: “Braiders, and not Raiders, wanted.” He explains that PHCN is a cry for us all to come together to work as BRAIDERS not as RAIDERS.
The artist, whose career spans over three decades asks: “Are we still the happiest people on earth?” He recalls that in 2003, the World Values Survey, in its World Happiness Report (WHR), after studying 155 countries, declared Nigerians the happiest people on earth.
That report, he notes, surprised many people. “Many wondered how they came to that conclusion, but we just accepted the report, even when we felt that too many things were wrong with the country, enough not to make us the happiest country.”
He argued that most people concluded that the survey must have mistaken the fact that Nigerians were a bunch of optimistic and persevering people, who often preferred not to make negative declarations about themselves but confess the positive, for a sign of happiness.
Quite a lot was wrong then, he insists, including the state of the economy. However, the survey then appeared to have confirmed late Afrobeat legend, Fela Kuti’s “suffering and smiling,” that captured the attitude of Nigerians.
“Today, 19 years after, things have gotten worse. Almost everything that can go bad has gone bad, and one wonders if the World Values Survey, after witnessing the 2020 #ENDSARS nationwide protests, would still pronounce the same verdict today.”
Explaining the Raiders analogy in the PHCN-II exhibition, Ijalobomo noted that Nigerians have transited from ‘the happiest people on earth’ to ‘the angriest people on earth’ going by the level of anger, for example, as expressed nationwide during the #ENDSARS protests of 2020.
The artist recalls how, from Independence, being in government has been seen as a shortcut to wealth. He argued that “people come into office to loot, and in some cases, empty state treasuries and go on to flaunt the loot to the envy of the commoners. He explicitly describes such public office holders as The RAIDERS.
In all, the crowded generations of raiders, what spot do the ordinary people take? “The commoners, who do not have the benefit of the office or the pen, strive to restrain themselves but only for a while,” Ijalobomo said.
“After a while, they join the raiders, employing deadlier tactics and tools like sophisticated rifles/guns, like the dreaded AK47. They “take it by force.” Such commoners, he said, are the bandits, the Yahoo boys, the Yahoo plus, the kidnappers, the herdsmen, the known and unknown gunmen, etc.”
How did Ijalobomo arrive at the BRAIDER metaphor? “The Braider is a person with a lot of patience and skills. She picks up bits and pieces, puts them all together with great care and dexterityShe puts different strands of hair attachment and diverse types of beads of different colours together with great patience, working with her client. She weaves all together, to create a beautiful whole New Look. Such are the people Nigeria needs today.
“People who have the skills to pick up the pieces and put them together, no matter what parts of the country such people or resources can be found, using them for the good of all, in other to create a beautiful whole.
“When braiders create, they create a beautiful world in which there are no agitations.”
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