A leading Nigerian artist and veteran architect, Demas Nwoko, at Freedom Park, Lagos referred to it as an environmental disaster.
The veteran architect said this at the public launch of his new books, a collection of essays on art, culture, design and aesthetics, ‘Concrete Thinking’ and ‘The Happy Little African Prince’ at the 24th Lagos Book and Art Festival.
During a question-and-answer session with the audience, he was asked how his past ideology of building cheaper houses with local materials would solve Nigeria’s housing problems.
He said: “The problem is that Nigeria is leading the world markets, we buy and buy and buy”.
“Houses are getting more and more expensive, getting cheaper, and that doesn’t make sense”, he added.
The 87-year-old architect explained that since Lagos was the benchmark for creating modern structures, the state had to be at the forefront of solving the problems of inadequate and insufficient housing.
He said, “When Lagos changes, the town will copy and change.”
The Protean designer, however, noted that Lagos is not looking to solve its problems yet.
“Look at Lagos; Lagos is an environmental disaster; why don’t you change We are not approaching our core problems. On the contrary, we seek refuge outside and import non-sustainable solutions.’ He said
At the event, his grandson Uno Nwachukwu presented a play titled ‘The Big Tree’ written by Ese Oghene Brume at the freedom park amphitheater.
The play follows Pa Demas Nwoko’s Wisdom about the need to focus on culture.
Presentation of the book
Pa Demas, as he is affectionately called, is a man of many creative talents. Sculptor, painter, designer, architect and builder.
The former Art Professor at the University of Ibadan presented his two books to those present.
He said that the first book called ‘Concrete Thinking’ is a collection of essays written during his creative career, sculpture, architecture, theater and more.
At the press conference before the presentation of the book, he spoke briefly about the book, ‘Concrete Thought’.
He said: “I started writing the book in 1968, and since then, I have been writing papers from all over the world, collected in our culture.”
His second book was an autobiography called “The Happy Little Prince of Africa”, which he believes tells about his upbringing and his various fields.
At the event, Pa Demas was honored with the presence of veteran Lagos socialites and founders including Abiola Dosunmu, Kayode Aderinoku, Tunde Kelani and Professor Bruce Onobrakpeya.
The dignitaries took turns to place the books; Erelu Dosunmu and Mr. Aderinoku took ten copies of the two books for a total of N150,000 each.
While legendary filmmaker Kelani and Professor Onobrakpeya took two copies of “Happy Little African Prince”.
90-year-old Professor Onobrakpeya, congratulating Mr. Nwoko, said: “They believed that the artist had failed in everything and continued to draw and sketch.”
“But it has been seen that the artist is a philosopher, writer, historian, everything, and for me, I congratulate Demas for producing these two books that are now being published.”
“I would say that I have read this, and that it is a beautiful book – concrete thinking is not only concrete; it’s thinking positively, thinking right, thinking figuratively, and I would recommend this, whether you’re an architect, an artist, or just someone who likes to read, it will broaden your horizons and inspire you.”
He also said that he has not read the second book but he knows that the autobiography will share the stories of their young lives, and he advised people to read it.
Demas Nwoko is an 87-year-old Nigerian creative who spent most of his career trying to incorporate modern techniques in architecture and scenography to portray African themes in most of his works.
From 1957 to 1961 he studied Fine Arts at the University of Arts, Science and Technology in Zaria, now Ahmadu Bello University.
In the 1960s, he was a member of the Mbari club in Ibadan, a committee of Nigerian and foreign artists and also a lecturer at the University of Ibadan.
In the 1970s, he was the publisher of the magazine Kultura Berria.
As a renowned architect, he is responsible for creating notable structures including the chapel of the Dominican Institute and the Oba Akenzua Theater in Benin City, Nigeria.
The book ‘Architecture of Demas Nwoko’ by John John Godwin and Gillian Hopwood is recommended for all architecture and African Studies collections around the world.
As a sculptor, his most notable work, ‘The Philosopher’, is a guided study of sculpture.
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