By Ikechukwu Odu The Vice Chancellor of the University of Nigeria, Nsukka, UNN, Prof. Charles Igwe, weekend, enjoined the academic community to celebrate scholars who have made their marks in research and other academic endeavours while they are still living.
The VC said that apart from giving the celebrants sense of accomplishments, it would encourage others to work hard in order to achieve similar scholarly feats.
He made the charge during the celebration of an international Ghanaian artist, Emeritus Prof. El Anatsui, of the Fine and Applied Arts Department, UNN,whose portrait was unveiled at the Faculty of Arts Lecture Hall, in appreciation of his scholarly contributions to the academic community.
Igwe, who is the first alumnus VC of UNN, further said that the likes of Anatsui, Prof. Chinua Achebe and other African celebrated artists have helped to correct the negative impressions about Africans through their works of art. “When we were growing up, Anatsui told us how he was touring different parts of the world for arts exhibition and we kept wondering when we would grow up to showcase our knowledge to the world. He inspired us a lot,” the VC said. Earlier in his opening remarks, the Dean of the Faculty of Arts, UNN, Prof. Nnanyelugo Okoro, while eulogising the creative works of the celebrant said, his personality can sell any product, service, idea and movement, adding that his academic and social contributions since his 44 years of service in the university has led to human developments, both locally and internationally. Okoro also said that Anatsui has become, every inch, a Nigerian, having received a traditional title of ‘Chief Ikedire 1 of Nsukka’ from the monarch of Ihe na Owerre Nsukka autonomous community, Igwe George Asadu, which according to the Dean, is a confirmation of his immense contributions to the development of the society.
He further said that the faculty, after critical deliberations, found Anatsui, and Achebe, worthy to be celebrated due to their excellent scholarly contributions to university and the world in general. While giving his vote of thanks, the celebrant told the audience not to be deterred by failures while trying to accomplish a task. He revealed that he failed at some point at the beginning of his career but that persistent practice turned him into an international artist that he has become.
He said he fell in love with Nigeria, and Nsukka particularly due to the fertile academic environment he discovered. He described Nigeria as a vast country of people and cultures which makes the inhabitants never to have a dull moment. He added that the ‘pigin English’ was inspirational to him and helped to create imageries that helped his work of art to flourish. He added that he feels very happy to be celebrated with the literary giant, Achebe.