By Nehru Odeh
Muyiwa Ige, architect and former Commissioner for lands, physical planning and urban development in Osun State, has a human touch. Still, he is not just in touch with the people but also has their interests at heart.This enviable trait of the son of late Chief Bola Ige, SAN, former Attorney-General and Minister of Justice, came to the fore in Ibadan on Saturday 1 October when the Muyiwa Ige Festival of Arts was organized to celebrate him at Rotary Club, Iyaganku G.R.A. Ibadan.
It was an evening of celebration. It was an evening of poetry, music and dance. It was also an evening of affirmation of hope in the country as the event coincided with the nation’s 62nd independence anniversary. A collection of poems in honour of the celebrant, Rhythms for the Architect was also presented to the public that day. And a poetry slam in sync with the theme of the festival, The Arts Against Insurgency also featured at the event.
It was a full house as the event was attended by professionals from various fields of endeavour. The members of Ige’s family, which included the celebrant’s sister, Mrs Funsho Adegbola, Proprietress of The Vale College, her husband Mr Gbenro Adegbola and Mrs Oyinda Ige, the celebrant’s wife was there to support the architect.
Many spoken word poets, dancers as well as musicians thrilled the audience with their superlative performances. Students of The Vale College Ibadan and Bridge International School also added colour to the event with their distinguished presence. Two students of The Vale College, which Ige described as the best school in Nigeria, also put up a spectacular poetry performance.
Another significant feature of the event came when on two different occasions the celebrant read his poem entitled Black Pentecost Sunday taken from the collection and his wife Oyinda performed a poem she wrote on the spur of the moment entitled Japa.
Mr Ebika Anthony, poet and former Chairman Association of Nigerian Authors, Oyo State chapter who organized the event with the support of Alliance Francaise and Leo Biga Associates set the ball rolling with a welcome address. Anthony said the Muyiwa Ige Arts Festival was organized to celebrate Ige for his unflinching support for the arts over the years. According to him the arts festival was organized to pay back Ige for promoting the arts.
“Muyiwa Ige, otherwise referred to as MI by his close friends and associates has been a person who has supported the arts all over the years. We have done various programmes which he has supported. And we believe he has become an hero.
“And how do we pay back our heroes? By celebrating them. It will be totally unacceptable if people come from outside to celebrate somebody like Muyiwa. And I woke up from the right side of my bed one day and said. It’s the next turn of Muyiwa Ige to be celebrated.
“And I could remember his wife Oyinda Ige sayng that since this has Muyiwa Ige’s signature. It has to be of international standard. It has to be big. Muyiwa agreed totally and said yes it has to big. We are artists and we must celebrate our heroes. That’s why we are celebrating Muyiwa Ige,” Anthony explained.
Dr Kolade Mosuro, CEO The Booksellers Ibadan and Chairman of the occasion, also expressed his appreciation of Ige and his wife, Oyinda, for making the event possible.
“I want to say how much a delight it is for me to be here and to chair this occasion. I want to thank Muyiwa Ige and indeed Oyinda for helping us put this together. This is a cultural city but we are in need of activities like this. And we want to thank them for putting the festival together. This is the first time it is coming up and I am sure in the years to come it will continue to flourish. Again I want to thank you all for coming to this event,”.Mosuro said.
The Director, Alliance Francaise, Ibadan Mr Jean Olatunbosun Akinsanmi was also full of praise for the celebrant. He said the first time Ige came to his office to ask for the support of Alliance Francaise, he came across as a good man . “The way he spoke, I saw the enthusiasm in him and I saw that he is a good man.
“So please, one thing I learnt when I got here was that he is an architect, an architect now doing things in a poetic way. One thing I know is that we need to be diverse in what we do. And sincerely Mr Muyiwa is one of a kind,” Akinsanmi submitted.
When it was time for the book, Rhythms for the Architect, to be unveiled Ebika Anthony, reiterated that Ige had done a lot for the arts and spoke about the relationship between poetry and architecture.
“Muyiwa Ige has done a lot for the arts, promoting the it and the artists. He has done very well. And for what I know about architecture, there is rhythm. It has to do with lines, drawings, vertically and horizontally.. And even what the architect is doing is poetry. So, poetry and architecture are synonymous. They are brothers. It is just that poetry is older than architecture. Because poetry has been from the beginning, before we started putting up buildings. Poetry is older. And that is why we are using poetry to celebrate the architect,” Anthony maintained
Sir Demola Aladekomo, who was the Special Guest of Honour as well as Chief Launcher, while presenting the book recognized the legacy Muyiwa and the entire Ige family had kept and fought for over the years. Aladekomo also described Ige as a man of integrity and stated the reason he was launching the book.
“I have enjoyed a lot of our children, brothers, sisters performing today. And it just gives me hope that this country is going to be better. I do not have any iota of doubt in my mind that pretty soon things will change for the better,” Aladekomo, who was there with his wife, said as he launched the book. He collected 150 copies, donating 75 copies to the students of The Vale College present at the event and 25 copies to the library of the institution. He also donated 25 copes of the book to the Theatre Arts department, University Of Ibadan.
Mr Abdulrazak Salinsile, former Chief of Staff to then Governor Rauf Aregbesola of Osun State also presented Rhythms for the Architect on behalf of his principal, who is now the Minister for Interior. Salinsile said the minister would have attended the event had he not got an impromptu assignment.
“He (Aregbesola) said he is pained that he is not here personally because he has a good longstanding relationship with the Iges, especially the celebrant, who according to him was his colleague when he was governor in Osun State. He said he enjoyed his robust contribution to his administration.
“And that there is no reason the celebrant would be organizing this kind of event that he would not want to be there. He also expressed his support for what he is doing. And his prayer tis that this is just the starting point. By the special grace of God, you will continue to move higher. You will never lack in knowledge. You will never lack what it takes to execute and promote the arts, culture and your first love, architecture,” Salinsile said on behalf of his principal
However, Ige on his part, while expressing his appreciation for everyone present at the event used the opportunity to say that the proceeds from the book will presented to motherless babies’ homes, the Jolly Rogers Book Club and various other charities.
Announcing the winner of the Poetry Slam in which four poets namely Similoluwa Taiwo, Don Kote, Olagunsoye Oluwatosin and Divine Favour competed, the judges Professor Kumbi Olasope and Dr Tunde Awosanmi said they made use of five criteria, which they called the five-finger metrics to assess the contestants.
The five-finger metrics according to Awosanmi were 1. The diction of the poets. 2. The performance content of the poem. 3. The substance of what the poets delivered and 4. The confidence of the four poets. And at the end of the day, Don Kote was announced as the winner. The winner was rewarded with a certificate and the sum of N30, 000.
“Today is the Ist of October 2022. What has happened here today actually gives a lot of hope. This country is going to be great. It will be great again because of the quality of brains, the quality of thoughts that people have brought onto the stage today, Awosanmi enthused.
When TheNEWS asked Ige in a brief chat while he, an architect, organized the arts festival, he said it was Ebika Anthony who brought the idea to him: “It was brought to me. Mr Ebika Anthony, who used to be the Chairman l Association of Nigerian Authors Oyo State chapter brought the idea that he wanted to celebrate Muyiwa Ige. And I said to him what’s the reason? He said I have always contributed towards supporting the arts over the years. And I didn’t even remember.
“I said let me just do it because it is part of my DNA, even when my father was alive. My father was grand patron of the arts, ANA, even the Abuja Literary Society etc. And to me it was a non-issue. But interestingly I thought it was a joke.
“Then about a month and a half before today he now said ‘Are we going on with it?’ ‘Are you really serious?’ I asked him. I said ‘OK you know what, let’s make a difference and showcase young talents from across the country.’ And we picked the first Saturday in October, which coincidentally is October 1. We thank God for a glorious day. The arts were wonderful. The art of the spoken word is very special. And if you ask me, architecture is poetry and poetry is architecture.”
Asked again how he developed so much love for the arts, he said it is in his DNA. “I guess it is in my DNA.. But I don’t question the obvious. So we just go with it and make sure we add value to humanity. And we are doing our own little bit in our own enclave just to make sure that we celebrate glorious talents.
Is the Muyiwa Ige Arts Festival going to be an annual event? Ige said the festival has come to stay. “I have been suckered in. So why not?” he averred.
Distinguished guests in attendance Included Professor Femi Osofisan, Professor Femi Ogunbiyi, Tunde Fagbenle, Dr Kemi Fadipe, Omooba Adeoye Ajibade, Arc Mobolaji Adeniyi, Arc. Suki Onadeko, Arc Abiola Layorun and Mrs Lanre Johnson (the celebrant’s godmother).