By Osa Mbonu-Amadi, Arts Editor
Between 18 and 29 June, 2022, O’DA Art Gallery at Sir Samuel Manuwa Street, Victoria Island, Lagos, showcased Isaac Emokpae’s works in an exhibition titled “Are you ashamed of yourself?” For O’DA Art Gallery, the exhibition was meant to “become a new positive start in the way Nigerians view themselves.”
Amongst all the works Isaac brought to the exhibition, the most striking and most philosophical which correlates to the life and times of Pele of Brazil, his stardom and how it relates to other stars, is a work Isaac titled “My Nigerian Stars.” Strangely, Isaac came to the exhibition adorned in Super Eagles’ jersey, the Nigerian national football team jersey and pants.
Emokpae’s work did not only capture all the stars in the world, but also the different types and nature of the stars. Some are sports stars, music stars, academic stars, literary stars, political stars, business stars, science & technology stars, visual art stars, dramatic art stars, etc. But Isaac didn’t stop at just representing different stars in different departments of life.
Even amongst stars in the same department, Isaac showed that some stars are very bright; some are just bright; some are very dim; some are just dim; some are black; some are white; some have mixed colors; some are bloody; some of the stars are broken; and some stars are even missing!
Isaac pointed out that “The stars are also irregular. That is to show that no one is perfect. Some people may not get a 100% from you, but the truth is they are getting better at what they are doing.” Some may not be shining very brightly, but they are nonetheless stars.
For the missing stars, Isaac says they represent an absence. “We have people who can choose to be better, but choose not to be.” These may be people who had potentials but for one reason or the other, never worked hard enough on their talents. And sometimes, Isaac said, some stars that had been there shining are missing and suddenly the society has lost someone who is among the best, just as the world has just lost Pele of Brazil.
The artist creatively captures the disparity between each star in the work. Isaac’s work also draws attention to those amongst us who, in spite of the insecurity and instability, are stellar examples of what it means to take responsibility or ownership. The artist pays homage to stars and heroes like Dr Stella Ameyo Adadevoha, Ken Saro-Wiwa, Dora Akinyuli, all the EndSars activists, etc.
“My Nigerian Stars”, which ought to have been titled “Our world stars” has another salient message: that the brightness or dimness of one star does not prevent another star from shining, and that like our fingerprints, no star is exactly like another star.
Although football is a fiercely competitive sport, “Competition is the law of the jungle, but cooperation is the law of civilization,” says the Russian scientist and philosopher, Peter Kropotkin.
To this end, therefore, the controversy over who is the GOAT (The Greatest Of All Times) in football, is both unnecessary and unhelpful. Time is an intangible highly corrosive element. Time kills everything. Time breaks everything, including records. But time also heals and grows things. That is why there is no champion forever.
The author of the bestseller, Norman Vincent Peale, once told an interesting sports story. A student of a certain secondary school was an athletic star in the school. While he was a student there, all the trophies he won for the school were conspicuously displayed on a tall cabinet in the principal’s office. The student was a star and everyone in the school knew him, respected and loved him.
A few years later, after the student had graduated, a teacher who knew him and his athletic prowess was looking for something inside the store of the school where all sorts of junks were packed, and then saw where the athletic star’s trophies that used to be in the principal’s office were abandoned inside the store as junks, obviously to make room for new trophies other athletic stars had won for the school.
The teacher took the trophies, wrapped them and sent them to the long-graduated athletic star with the following note: “I found these your trophies in the store among other junks. I have the feeling you may still value them.”
So long as the universe endures, and time continues, there is no GOAT anywhere. What we have are Isaac Emokpae’s stars!
The post Pele of Brazil, Isaac Emokpae and other stars appeared first on Vanguard News.
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