By Our Correspondents
From time immemorial art and artists have deployed their art and voice to highlight and address socio-political issues in their localities and the world. Hence, it comes as no surprise that more artistes and creatives have become more vocal since the Black Tuesday which allegedly saw about 40 Nigerian youths participating in the #EndSarsNow peaceful protesters gunned down by military men in what’s now known as the Lekki Massacre.
Artistes and Creatives are calling for dialogue, justice, reassessment and realignment by protesters. Speaking with the LEADERSHIP Newspaper, President of the National Association of Nigerian Theatre Arts Practitioners NANTAP, Israel Eboh, has appealed to both sides to eschew violence, and respect the sanctity of lives in other to ensure more lives are not wasted.
Eboh stressed that the present time is one to explore the opportunities available to achieve true changes in the country that are being demanded.
“It is a time for government and decisionmakers to understand that there is time for changes in certain areas of our existence as a nation and be ready. But beyond being ready, it must be ready to be transparent and openminded enough to listen to the agitations of the people, and do the needful. My call to everyone is enough of this bloodletting. Government and decisionmakers must be openminded and transparent enough in pursuing peaceful resolution to this through dialogue,” said Eboh.
In a message of solidarity to the youth and protesters, QDanceCenter, a contemporary dance studio based in Lagos, emphasizing the protesters success in rousing a conscious awakening amongst Nigerians has called for reorganization and recuperation to come out stronger.
“At this point of lack of leadership, @falzthebahdguy should use his voice and respectability to take the lead. It’s time to hold a digital summit. To define the real agenda. A political party and 2023 is the goal, with one voice. The conscious awakening we achieved is the success, and we must capitalize on. We must return powerfully even better organized.”
The center further advising people to stay at home and support those at the forefront of the protest noted that it is happy to support in many ways.
Speaking of support, artist and 2017 ArtX Prize, Habeeb Andu, posted images of burnt newspapers cover pages accompanied by emojis of Nigerian flags, broken hearts and hashtags #EndSarsNow, #EndPoliceBrutality.
The artwork depicts aesthetically burnt and smoke-stained newspaper covers with barely visible headlines as ‘Nigerians Attack’, ‘Buhari …’ ‘… market buildings’, the images shows Nigerians in various state of despair, while others indicate images of Nigerian traders scrambling to take their good to safety following fire outbreak.
In a more practical approach, Farm Fresh Vegetables, a Lagos urban farming enterprise engaged in the farm to table fresh produce delivery in support of the #EndSarsNow movement has announced free but limited fresh produce pickup for Nigerians who can prove their support of the movement with 10 online posts on the movement, or proof of their provision of food for the protesters.
In a few posts on its Instagram page entitled @ugwumerchant the fresh produce enterprise urged qualified persons of any age, occupation or age who can find their way to Moberry Agro, Lagos Island, “to pick up their choice vegetable or herbs that is in their production line”.
Meantime, the Upcyclearchitect, an Abuja-based sustainable and recycled architecture organization is calling for reform in the country. In a poster titled, We Need To: Reform Nigeria #ENDSARS called for “a better nation where lives of people matter, properties are protected and security is not for a selected.”
@upcyclearchitect also called for (albeit unrealistic and belated) a mindful peaceful protest. “As we peacefully protest, let’s not forget to clean up our streets.”
The Association of Children and Young Adults Theatre Practitioners (ASSITEJ), Nigeria in view of the recent shooting has postponed its 2020 virtual ASSITEJ Nigeria Theatre (ANT), festival. In a statement it released, the president of the association, Pamela Udoka said, “In light of the tragedy that has befallen our country … It will be insensitive of us to commence publicity of this event with the aim of going ahead with it at this time.”
Protesters of #EndSars movement has been carrying on peaceful protest for the past thirteen days before Tuesday’s shootings by the Nigerian military which saw conflicting reports of about 40, to 20 and (even zero casualties according to Lagos State) with the white of the Nigerian flags flagged by protesters in that fateful night covered in blood.
As of Wednesday, the peaceful protest had been overtaken by the hoodlums, who were burning and destroying properties across the Nigeria. Artistes so far, have channeled their efforts and support via joining peaceful protesters on the streets and lending their voice to the cause.