In the spirit of the celebration of Arts and Culture, Le Clézio Magazine visited the Eagle Square, the venue of the 5th African Arts and Crafts (AFAC) Expo 2012 with the theme “Promoting the Crafts Industry for Economic Transformation”.
It was a beehive of activities as a number of African Countries participated. Sampling different wares and products which represent them, indeed, our unity is in our diversity. We also caught up with an elderly man, Pa Busari Abolade, who has been a painter for over three decades. He shared his passion and how far he has come:
- Can we meet you sir?
My name is Busari Abolade. I am a native of Ila Orangun in Osun State, south west of Nigeria. Presently, I am based in Ibadan, Oyo State. I attended Ansarudeen Primary school from 1955 – 1960. Then in 1961, I proceeded to LA Modern Secondary School, Ila Orangun where I finished in 1963. After that, I had a break for a while, but in 1965, I joined Adegoke Metal Construction Company to learn the art of metal fabrication. I came out of that Institution in 1967 and in 1971, I established my own fabrication firm. In 1976, when we were preparing for FESTAC 77, I could remember that by then the construction of the Cultural Centre in Ibadan was going on, then, I was invited to fabricate the Main gate of that Cultural Centre; that is, artistic metal gate for Oyo State Cultural Centre. That was how I came to Ibadan from Oshogbo, my former base. After FESTAC 77, a friend of mine who was an artist by then (a painter), approached me. He said he wanted to learn metal construction. Meanwhile I was fascinated by his own craft, so I thought we could do a kind of trade by barter, that is, to exchange our knowledge. I was with him for about seven months, before I returned to the University of Lagos to do a formal training. That was how I found myself as a painter.
- Do you have people whom you have trained or your children who are taking after you?
I have trained a lot of people. One of them is Adeniyi Adewale (pointing to his painting). Also, I have a son who has learnt the art too. I love to impact on others.
- Is Pa Abolade retiring soon?
Ah! You can never retire. Just like music, you never retire from your passion because that is what keeps you going, it makes you feel fulfilled. Aside, metal fabrication, I have never done anything else. I love my job so much. I left metal fabrication because it has to do with welding and welding damages the eyes. That’s why I left completely and settled for painting.
- Does that mean that you use your painting to tell stories about Nigeria, Africa and our Culture?
- I use my paintings to talk about a lot of issues. I talk about our culture. Most especially, things that happen in the rural areas. For instance (pointing to a painting) this painting is called OMO ALARA MAIDEN DANCE. In part of Osun State, where I come from, there is a particular rite that the upcoming girls have to go through before they are allowed to get married, that is the “Omo Alara Dance”. This dance takes place in the middle of the night and which usually has about 30 to 40 young girls participating. They dance round a very large fire. There is always a drummer. So they dance one after the other. It is after this rite that a girl is ripe for marriage. This culture has not gone extinct. It is still being practised in my village.
- What do you think of the young ones involvement and interest in culture?
Well, I would say yes, the interest is still there, even though civilization is fast taking over but we cannot do without our identity. It is who we are. We must not forget where we come from. If we don’t tell our story, who will?
- How long does it take to learn this craft?
It all depends on one’s interest and commitment. If one is talented, a year is enough to learn the art of painting. It is fun as it allows one express himself.
- How do people get across to you and your product?
I have a shop at the Cultural Centre, Mokola in Ibadan.