Artists and art patrons rally to restore damaged iconic Otigba statue in Enugu City, destroyed during the #endSARS protests.
Irate youths, protesting police brutality and high-handedness in Nigeria – hashtaged #endSARS – destroyed the sculpture in October 2020.
Concerned artists sought out Christopher Afuba, the original creator, and encouraged him to restore the original artwork.
Afuba told the BBC in an interview that Enugu State Government is not involved in the effort to replace the sculptor.
“I was not even paid a penny for using the work by the government that installed it at first. My friends used to kid me that I have struck it big, not knowing that I derived no benefit from it,” he said.
He explained that a group of concerned art patrons wanted the iconic monument restored and askekd him to do it.
“I’m doing this out of the love I have for the work, not because I am commissioned to do it,” he said.
He came to confirm and saw that both the head of the statue and the drum itself were destroyed. He was shocked that youths would damage the beautiful statue to express their anger with the police.
“What concerns an artwork with police brutlality?” he asked.
One of the patrons is Deji Ade, a coordinators of Life in My City Arts Festival (LIMCAF), a national arts competition that climaxes with a grand exhibition of winners’ artworks in Enugu.
He said LIMCAF teamed up with indicidual artist members of Society of Nigerian Artists to raise funds to restore the work.
“The decision is in part to tell the government that we appreciate the fact that the city is decorated with monumental structural works.”
“We would like those works to be preserved,” he said.
Afuba has finished the restoration and is very pleased with the outcome.
“If I am asked to choose, I will say that this current creation is even more beautiful than the first one,” he said with obvious satisfaction.
History of Otigba Statue in Enugu
The Otigba (drummer) statue was commissioned in 1981 by Christopher Afuba, then a level three higher diploma student of the famous IMT art school in Enugu.
“I got the inspiration to create the work in 1980, from a giant drum we have in our hometown.
“We call the drum nne-igba (mother of drums); I wanted to recreate the drum with a big person as the drummer,” he explained.
It was during the military regime that a military administrator came to Enugu and saw all the wonderful artworks produced by students and displayed at the Art Garden.
They felt that it was better to take some of the iconic works and use them to beautify certain junctions in Enugu.
Otigba was selected among other artworks and taken out of the school for display at strategic locations in the city.
The giant statue was installed at the New Haven Junction and for 40 years, remained on of the City’s most recognized and photographed monument.
Enugu residents renamed the spot as Otigba Junction thereby making it a famous city landmark for visitors and movie producers.