Eyes of a Lagos Boy – Bolaji Alonge, Sola Otori and friends opened their Greener Pastures exhibition with a reception at Didi Museum, Lagos on 18 September. “Greener Pastures” brings together photography, video documentary and painting. You can view the exhibition until 26 September.
Attendees included the Managing Director of Lagos State Waterways Authority (LASWA) Damilola Emmanuel, Country Director British Council, Lucy Pearson, Yemisi Ransom-Kuti of Lagos Island Connect (LIC), Michel Deelen – Dutch Consul General Lagos, music producer, Kayode Samuel, Genco Sanli, representative of the Belgian government, Katherine Felgenhauer, Director AHK, Nadine Seigert, Director Goethe Institute, TV star Carol King, Theo Lawson of Freedom Park, members of the national / international press and art lovers from all walks of life.
The show started at 2pm as scheduled with guests coming in to witness Epe as they never had before. Aditya Chellaram serenaded the attendees at the venue adorned with interior deco made from water hyacinth produced by Mitimeth, (an organization that creates handcrafted products from natural fibers that would otherwise be considered waste or environmental menaces). At 4pm, Feetprint Africa, a dance troupe from the Lagoon side of Bariga presented an energetic display of drums and dance drama that succinctly portrayed the situation in Epe. They created this dance drama especially for this project. The opening reception doubled as the birthday celebration of Alonge (Eyes of a Lagos Boy).
Alonge says: “This project started in January 2018 and is the result of a collective desire to contribute to a better future for these communities. It is a derivative of the pilot study on Lagos Coastal Health that documented the health issues of people along the Lagos lagoon coastline. This is how I first started visiting these hidden villages where it seems that time has stood still.
I took hundreds of shots – of the incredibly deep green environment, the aquatic splendor that abounds and of course the people living in these seemingly peaceful but also distressed areas. The beauty of the art works is in sharp contrast with the stark reality of these villagers, invisible as a result of predatory seaweed and lack of political will. As time went on, a group of like-minded artists and friends joined me in this project – which resulted in the documentary that was presented at the opening reception. It captures never-seen images of these communities and gives a platform to its inhabitants.
Why did we call it Greener Pastures? Art is not just showcasing pretty images but also showing our reality, pushing people to think and act. We hope that this project will contribute to a broader awareness, building stronger networks of concerned citizens and of course push our government to do more. This part of Lagos has never been seen before like this – it holds great potential for domestic tourism, agriculture and fishing, creating better lives in these parts of Lagos can also reduce pressure on urban slums. We have to fix public education for these children, improve their livelihoods and deal with the wider environmental issues such as water hyacinth and other heavily polluting elements like plastic. Creating passageways for fishing boats is also a priority – to improve mobility and trade.
It is important for the younger generations to get connected with art and the environment. This is why we organize a special event for kids on Saturday 25 September, from 11am. It will feature the dance drama, a workshop on art and environment and a drawing competition.
On Sunday 26 September we invite you to a public debate with the participation of LASWA and the Ministry of Environment and Waterways, alongside initiatives working on transforming waste to wealth – plastic and water hyacinth, as well as discussing how to resolve the urgent health and other needs of people in these communities.
This is a story about all of us through the Eyes of a Lagos Boy.