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Pundits Say Cartoon Africa Intl Biennial Will Fast Track Public Awareness and Behavior Changes on Many Fronts  

The 2nd edition of “CARTOON AFRICA INTERNATIONAL BIENNIAL (CAIB) festival” hosted by the Edo State Ministry of Arts, Culture and Tourism at the Oba Akenzua Cultural Center, in Benin City, Nigeria, has been described by pundits, social science cum art critics and other stakeholders as a potential catalyst for social reengineering, public awareness and behavior changes across Africa and the rest of the world.

“I think it’s a wonderful thing that you have done to bring together international cartoonists here in Benin City, and it’s the hope that you get increasing support for this particular event so that you can hold it continually”, said an American, Professor Jean Borgatti, at the CAIB festival exhibition opening penultimate Thursday.

The CAIB festival seeks to explore how  Art, in synergy with allied fields/professions,  can provide ANSWER to a wide variety of issues and concerns in favour of Africa’s sustainable development and productivity while professionally researching, showcasing, promoting, rewarding excellence in the use of cartoons and graphic humour to address issues of public interest, in the context of public education.

Every other year, since 2012,  visual journalists , artists of talent and culture practitioners across Africa and  other parts of the world meet in Nigeria -through their  comedic Art - to draw attention to, and spread awareness on,  some  vital social, political, economic, cultural issues and concerns in favour of Africa’s development, global peace and progress. Over 130 artists- press cartoonists, illustrators, photographers, cartoon animators, etc, from over 20 countries of the world participated in the 2nd edition of CAIB festival, 2014,which opened in Benin City on Thursday, November27, 2014.

The Senior Special Assistant to the Governor of Edo State, Mr. Daniel Eromosele, speaking at the event penultimate Thursday, observed that “…it’s a project that we all need to support because it’s a brand new one in the area of art especially, and we in the Ministry of Arts, Culture and Tourism, we always want to encourage anything that we know can encourage and uplift the image of our country, the image of our tradition, anything that can bring peace and unity to our existence. So, I think that through these cartoons we can preach peace, we can do so many things for the development of our society. So, I see it as a program that every one of us has to encourage so that people can now begin to see it like other cultural activities happening in Nigeria.”

On her part, the Edo State Commissioner for Arts, Culture and Tourism, and chairman of the occasion, Honourable Aanena Jemitola, during her address, went down memory lane to recount how cartooning shaped lives, characters and opinions. She said, “I have already had a look at the exhibition inside, and I must say it is an eye-opener; … Cartoons are almost extinct in Nigeria today, and I know a lot of us grew up on cartoons. You know, that was the days when children actually believed in cartoons, when children actually lived cartoons. Cartoons then were cartoons that shaped our lives. Even in the newspapers- I remember when I was old enough to read newspapers, I usually went to the cartoon page first, and from the cartoon page you also learn about what is going on in the country- the social problems, the economic problems, …so, even if you were not old enough to appreciate those problems, but at least it was already forming in your mind and you have ideas of what the world was holding in forth for you.

“It’s apt that it is titled “AFRICA OF THE FUTURE”, and I must say, with good cartons we can have Africa of the future we all dream of…” the Commissioner said. 

Mr. Ighoroje Aaron, a social critic, commented after touring the exhibition, that “ I think there is much work to be done in Africa…Sad at our current stage, we are kind of far behind…May God help Africa.” However, for Miss Cherry Ise, “Well, I think  the artistic work and pictorial illustrations here are natural and appeals to the average man or average Nigerian and interpretes the world around us”; and for Mr. Brown Ndukwe, all were “beautiful works, nice concepts; first of its kind in Benin, Edo State.”

The curator of the National Museum, Benin City, Mr. Theophilus Umogbai, also aired his mind: “This is great…this is great. I’m greatly impressed. Please make sure all these works are well documented in catalogue form. That is the only way more people will get to know and benefit from the wealth of information here. This clearly promotes cross cultural dialogue…”
Since the pilot edition of the CAIB festival in November,  2012, Mr. Umogbai and his enthusiastic staff at the National Museum, Benin City, have been very supportive of the CAIB project in kind by hosting (as well as participating in) the Jury selection exercises.

Other pioneer partners and supporters include the WHITE SPACE, Ikoyi, in Lagos State, who hosted the pilot CAIB exhibition in Lagos in 2012; the Edo State Ministry of Arts, Culture and Tourism, host of the ongoing 2nd edition of CAIB festival; Hill Communications (Canada), sponsors and managers of the CAIB official website; National Gallery of Art (NGA) Benin City outstation, who handled exhibition mounting logistics; Muse Concepts Artmosphere Ltd, etc. Media partners of the projectso far include the Global Free Press (Canada), the NIGERIAN OBSERVER Newspapers (Nigeria), Vanguard Newspapers (Nigeria), MediaBFI (Nigeria) and Horizon International (USA).
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