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The Yoruba Journey Through Life
Presented by the Niagara Artists Centre
Summer 2009

Catalogue commemorating the exhibition
The Yoruba Journey Through Life
ISBN 978-0-9780375-8-1
©2009 Niagara Artists Centre, St. Catharines, ON
Essays by Ayo Adewumi & Makinde Adeniran
Introductions by Stephen Remus & Vincent M. Del Buono
Edited by Jon Eben Field
Book design by Natasha Pedros & Stephen Remus
Layout by Natasha Pedros
Photos & Illustrations by Ernest Harris Jr.
The tie-dyes that appear in this exhibition including that on the cover
are the work of Kehinde Kesinro and other texile artists in Oshogbo.
Niagara Artists Centre
354 St. Paul Street
St. Catharines, ON L2R 3N2
905 641 0331 nac.org

Table of Contents
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Director’s Message by Stephen Remus

6

Along Life’s Journey by Vincent M. Del Buono MFR

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The Oracle Diary

10

In the Beginning

12

Animals

18

Yemoja

20

Journey Through Life

22

Royalty

26

Sango

28

Livelihood & Domestic Life

36

Harvest

40

Palmwine

44

Osun Oshogbo

46

Social Commentary

48

Egungun (Masquerade)

52

About the Artists

53

About the Curators

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through an artistic export. what little knowledge I could claim was derived through Afrobeat music and its founder Fela Kuti. information technologies have been unable to expand understanding much beyond the many ubiquitous translations of “Add To Cart”. importantly. This region of the world has a human history dating to 9000 BC. Their enthusiasm for sharing these arts of Nigeria is infectious and I believe that the art collection has opened a true channel for widening understanding. I offer thanks to both Ayo and Makinde who became important allies and key support in helping to realize those ambitions through this exhibition. Today. then. is a nation containing one of the world’s largest populations. take the knowledge an average Niagaran might be able to muster about Nigeria. to be sure. when I had the opportunity to view Vincent Del Buono and Jennifer Pothier’s large collection of visual art work by contemporary Nigerian artists. Stephen Remus Director of Programming and Operations Niagara Artists Centre 7 . Before I began working on this exhibition. the techniques of the arts provide the most valuable means of insight into the real direction of our own collective purposes. but it was derived. I was filled with excitement. -Marshal McLuhan Our near instantaneous access to information about our world has not lead to a shared understanding between its many cultures. and an exploding economy. For example. there are more conflicts based on ethnic and sectarian differences than ever before. Just as the advent of affordable long distance travel did not fulfill its potential to dissolve dangerous reefs of ignorance and served only to stretch sticky webs over every port of call designed to ensnare tourists.Director’s Message As the unity of the modern world becomes increasingly a technological rather than a social affair. NAC seeks out uncommon opportunities to broaden understanding through the contemporary visual arts. This understanding is limited.

After our interview. oil paintings. one of her adopted sons named Shangodore who is a priest. Soon after. an olorisha with the name Adunni. Two of my colleagues at the British Council’s office in Abuja. and herbalist guided us through the sacred groves on the perimeter of Oshogbo. joined me in Abuja that November. My wife. My journey took me to Nigeria in April. but those from Oshogbo. ‘Mama’. Jennifer Pothier. batiks. Afro-Brazilian style house in Ala Ibokun Road where she was surrounded by her sculptures. ‘Mama’ and other artists of the New Sacred Art whom she has inspired and nurtured have protected the groves with sculptured walls. David Roberts and Catharine Chatham were experienced ‘Nigeria hands’ who coincidentally shared not only the same birthday. an illustrator as gentle and unassuming as his work is brilliant. Justice and Growth. who is known as ‘Mama’ to Kehinde and by all those she had adopted. Susanne Wenger left this mortal coil earlier this year and this exhibition is dedicated to her extraordinary memory. she came into contact with a disappearing generation of Yoruba priests and was both received and integrated into the Obatala cultic life as a priestess. and wood carvers whom they had met previously in Nigeria. Susanne was an Austrian who went to Nigeria more or less by chance in 1950 at age 35. subsequently re-titled Security. but also an intense passion for Nigerian art. 2002 as national coordinator for a British Council/UK Department for International Development Programme. Artists came to our home in Abuja from all parts of the country. dyers. ‘Adunni’. we met a textile artist named Kehinde Kesinro who brought his own tie-dyes and indigos as well as the works of others. and fabulous sculptures as tall as trees.Along Life’s Journey ‘Life is a journey’. Early on in our five year sojourn in Nigeria. In November 2002. the spiritual and artistic centre of Yorubaland. and her many adopted children. batik artist. We visited her in her three-story. were the most frequent visitors. Both are members of the vibrant artistic community that is Oshogbo. Jennifer and I visited Oshogbo and Kehinde introduced us to the legendary Susanne Wenger. Among the others was the work of Emmanuel Emvic. striking eclectic shrine structures. sculptors. weavers. Access to Justice. These fellow travellers on our life’s journey introduced us to a large community of painters. 8 .

We are delighted that His Excellency Iyorwuese Hagher. distinguished playwright. creativity. has also been a special friend to this exhibition. Jigawa State Vincent Del Buono and Jennifer Pothier 9 . Dutse Emirate. Enugu State and Wakilin Sulhu. Jennifer and I are grateful to the Niagara Artists Centre. Ifeoma Chinwuba. Emvic is especially adept at both capturing and transmitting this folk wisdom through his illustrations. Mrs. Yoruba culture still teaches about life and the ‘journey’ through fables. Catharines. Professor of Theatre. a renowned author. originally from Ekiti State. and former Deputy Majority Leader of the Senate of the Federal Republic. now of St. for combining the curiosity. especially to Stephen Remus and Natasha Pedros. and openness to the world required to put on this exhibition. OON.Yoruba culture is one of the richest in the world as it combines the Christian stories of the Bible with the complex pantheon of traditional Yoruba gods. could grace the launch of this book with his presence. Vincent M. Many others would not have had the same largeness of vision. High Commissioner of Nigeria to Canada. and foibles (Emvic and Isola Folorunso’s illustrations of ‘Creation’ are artistic examples of this blending of cultural and religious influences). their doings. poet. MFR Eze OkaIwu the 1st of Abor. Del Buono. one never knows on which squares the cowrie shells will fall when our future is divined. The Deputy High Commissioner. As in Emvic’s The Oracle Diary. We are also grateful that Ayodele Adewumi. usually of Lagos. curated this exhibition as part of their life’s journey. and Makinde Adeniran.

the parents seek for a solution. The parents of the child are given insight into how to protect the child on the journey through life. the child’s destiny is put into play. By depicting the Oracle’s diary. the rules.The Oracle Diary The beginning is as essential as the end for every Yoruba-born. they are helped. But when there is a bad story about the child’s journey. Emvic has drawn a cord connecting everyone to God through his appointed representatives. In a contemporary way. Orunmila is the custodian of the Ifa practice and the intermediary between ‘Olodumare’ – God and gods. This pattern is the dictate of Yoruba tradition. If there is one. Destiny is the beginning. Emvic has portrayed the traditional Yoruba Ifa belief of a child-naming ceremony. This process is not an ephemeral belief.” 10 . Through the vivid imagery of an artist peeping into God’s diary. both the parents and the child have to live with this ‘troubled’ destiny. From the first contact of a child with the earth. traditions. and both the achievements and failures fulfilled on earth. can tell what will happen. only Orunmila. Only Orunmila knows the conversations between every human being and God or gods – ‘eleri ipin’. So regardless what was asked of God when coming to earth. and how this choice was made could be known through Ifa consultation. it is the pot which contains the choices. Emvic deals with the possible imagery of destiny as a “pot” full of choices. occupations. This art piece attests to the saying: “God is all knowing. through Ifa consultation. Whatever the child asked to become on earth of God. This life process is infused in the Yoruba system of livelihood through Ifa divination – ‘Ifa olokun as’oro d’ayo’. but if there is no solution. we see the record of choices by individuals of different races. and cultures. The seeking and sorting of the destiny of every child at birth was a crucial traditional ceremony. How destiny is achieved becomes an integral part of a person’s will power. Ifa divination is a key component of the Yoruba world view. In a traditional Yoruba belief system. In his presentation of this piece.

435 Creative Shapes from Oracle Diary – Emmanuel Emvic Detail 11 .

that person is dead. In the book of Genesis in the Bible. European. we can see how inspiration is drawn from the Yoruba creation mythology. Adam and Eve are depicted nude across many cultures: Greek. greenery. Adam and Eve. The moment when nothing was. and so shall we return. and the earth are all strong elements of creation in Yoruba culture. But an important question to ask is: “Did they actually live in this manner?” While Emvic focuses on the subject with a single painting illustrating Adam and Eve. and 3) the continuous creation of all other living things in female and male pairs. As greenery dies when removed from the earth. etc. In this exhibition. Isola did metal imprints according to three genealogies: 1) the creation of animals and greenery. with the problems inherent with this division according to different cultures. through the artistic visions of Isola and Emvic. Creation stories are primarily focused on the origins of male and female. Yoruba. God created Adam and Eve and instructed them to live according to His rules in the Garden of Eden. Emvic and Isola also recognize this nakedness as an important and foundational aspect of every human being: In nakedness we come. Creation stories are classical insofar as they define certain origin values for those living within that culture. While human beings look at creation as primarily a reproductive process. we learn that: In the beginning. so the Yoruba believe that when any human being is ‘taken off’ the earth. religion dictates that it is essential to look at creation from a void totally beyond human comprehension. Greenery is another element that communicates across these works. 2) Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden being deceived by the serpent.In the Beginning Every culture has a creation story. Vegetation has stronger ties with the soil and constitutes the earth upon which all living creatures are settled. 12 . Roman.

The First Couple on Earth – Emmanuel Emvic Untitled – Ishola Folorunsho 13 .

the calabash of crops on 14 . One folk tale explains why animals live in the jungle. Wise. These stories always end with either a moral lesson or an explanation of a particular phenomenon in the world. The shame of the animal conspiracy later made them move into the jungle. a common folk tale role. The importance of the age-old relationship between human beings and animals is represented in the three pieces by the three Folorunshos. The animals took their request to be remade like humans to Olodumare. This story relates the reason animals live in the jungle. singing. and feet. The story relates the ambitious quest the animals made to become like humans. Traditional folk tales.Animals Animals play a significant role in Yoruba cosmological beliefs. Fool and Mr. dancing. where they established an animal kingdom with the Lion as the king and all other animals as his subjects. to some extent. Each piece was made in a different time period and generational differences are apparent in the age and quality of the metals used by each artist as well as. He quickly rubbed it on his face. they accidentally broke the gourd containing the potion and the contents began spilling onto the ground. This tale explains the close resemblance between monkeys and human beings. Olodumare gave the animals a gourd filled with potion and instructed them to keep it for seven days before rubbing it all over their bodies. tell the story of ancient life when humans and animals lived together harmoniously and shared similar attributes. as well as explains why monkeys bear a close resemblance to human beings. Emvic depicts the tortoise as a Yoruba farmer. In the frenzy of euphoric excitement about their anticipated transformation. The animals were so happy that they began drinking. There are many folk tales involving different kinds of animals and their relationships with humans. according to Yoruba culture. the creator of all things. more often than not. and making merry for seven whole days. with a hoe on his shoulder. in their individual styles. They were all drunk by the seventh day. a machete dangling from his neck. In Tortoise the Farmer. hands. The monkey was the luckiest as he was able to scoop up the tiny bit of potion left on the ground. Emmanuel Emvic uses the traditional personification of animals in Yoruba folklore in two of his works: Tortoise the Farmer and Mr.

as opposed to his front. the tortoise decided to give it a try.’ Both Emvic’s love for colour and his fascination with details are evident in The Jungle. He was surprised. and Singing Birds. Emvic captures the essence of the folk tale that recounts the tortoise’s journey around the world acquiring wisdom. After initially laughing at the monkey for his foolish suggestion. Emvic’s interest in birds is also deftly expressed through different forms in his impressive depictions entitled. but each time he fell down. In both anger and in recognition of his foolishness.his head. he makes each monkey unique and distinctive by dressing them in traditional Yoruba outfits with matching hats and using the brilliant colours and designs as those found on the local textiles of the Yoruba people. Wise. A monkey standing nearby. The monkey told the ‘wise’ tortoise that the only way to climb the tree without falling down was to carry the gourd on his back. The Sea Gull. who had been observing the ‘wisest being on earth’ attempt to climb a tree. He placed the gourd in front of his belly and made several attempts to climb the tree. the tortoise decided to hide the gourd in a tree. a palm wine tapper’s rope. and gourds of palm wine hanging on his shoulder. Fool and Mr. however. Guinea Fowls. In this work. 15 . With Mr. he broke his so-called ‘gourd of wisdom. at how easy it was for him to climb the tree with the gourd on his back. The tortoise is gathering wisdom in a selfish bid to monopolize knowledge and be the wisest being on earth. moved closer to the tortoise and offered to help. he knew that no single being can possess all the wisdom on earth. In this collection. With this revelation. After collecting all the wisdom in the world in a gourd.

Wise Monkeys’ Playing Area Tortoise the Farmer Emmanuel Emvic . Fool and Mr.16 Mr.

Folorunsho Singing Birds – Emmanuel Emvic 17 .Untitled – Y.

18 Guinea Fowl – Emmanuel Emvic .

Untitled – Toyin Folorunsho Untitled – Ishola Folorunsho 19 .

she is shown reverence as a magnificently beautiful goddess of fertility with two large nurturing breasts. Yemoja in the Yoruba language means ‘yeye omo eja’. the protector of little children. His painting. Yemoja is known as the goddess of the seas and rivers. 20 . In English. Living in the town Oshogbo on the bank of the river Osun. it is not surprising that she is held in high esteem by her devotees and respected by all orisha worshippers. we still recognize a rainbow in the background.’ Due to this meaning. and in some parts of the world is known as Osumare. She is the amniotic fluid in the womb of a pregnant woman. Cuba. the goddess of the rainbow. The waves of the sea are an expression of her mood swings. the goddess of the rainbow. Yemoja is worshipped throughout the world. One aspect of Yoruba mythology claims Yemoja is the mother of all the other orishas. ‘mother. Presently. she appears as Yemanja or Yemaya. In other places like Brazil. and Haiti. Toyin Folorunsho must have used his knowledge of the relationship between Yemoja and the goddess Osun as a a great source of inspiration for this particular piece. this literally translates to ‘mother of fish.’ but has the actual meaning.Yemoja In Yorubaland. and the goddess of perseverance. Nevertheless. Therefore. The Rainbow Goddess depicts the conflict of identity between Yemoja and Osumare as Emvic’s rainbow goddess takes the form of a mermaid whose entire body is made of fish. the mermaid deity who represents the maternal aspect of divinity. Yemoja’s association with the rainbow is also acknowledged with the appearance of a rainbow in the background of the piece. indicating the oscillations of her feminine hormones in the life cycle. whose children are as many as there are fish. Emvic believes that Yemoja is the same as Osumare. while the palette of the piece emphasizes the relationship with The Rainbow Goddess. Like many in Yoruba culture.

Untitled – Toyin Folorunsho The Rainbow Goddess – Emmanuel Emvic 21 .

Except that we must make this journey whether we fail or succeed in it. These illustrations confirm the Yoruba reality that links every man. In the beginning. sorting out Eda’s journey to life. woman. the fish as river) are strikingly similar. Life has different branches as it concerns different individuals. 22 . it was just Eda and Eledumare (God). The canoe indicates that time waits for no one in its continual passage. upon looking deeper. Life is a journey. the reptiles as the Earth. there is a fulfillment. Although it looks almost like a family travelling to a celebration. According to Yoruba mythology. The image is clearly depicted on the metal sheet by Isola Folorunsho entitled. and spirit to a singular belief in both destiny and the necessity of its fulfillment. human beings supposedly will strive for survival at all times. but from the very start of creation. we console ourselves with a Biblical phrase: Nothing is brought to the world and nothing shall we return with. Often when we scrutinize what is happening around the world. while all other representations of earthly existence (i. for every creation: there is a journey. there is an agreement. Within this belief-system. and there is a buying. ‘aragbe l’aye. The images on the sheet are quite revealing. the gods and goddesses are intermediaries between men and God. while others are about to catch a fish. and through life until death. Not all stories have a good ending. According to Yoruba belief. Isola’s metal sheet reveals a level of meaning far profound than can be ascertained from a brief survey. Life is a Journey. all of which creation must try to accomplish. A long canoe indicates the journey. The Blessed Voyage shows that some of the men in the canoe are lucky to have caught a big fish. animal. Not all of creation lives according to the rules or the agreements entered upon. as Isola depicts the faces of the humans in his canoe according to their fate.Journey Through Life ‘Irin ajo l’aye’. in other words. They also indicate that life is simply one stretch of a journey for us all.e. the birds as sky. Emmanuel Emvic’s painting. not only through life. Isola and Emvic’s illustrations coincide in representational symbols.” This odu-Ifa tells the story of Eda and his many woes. But the binding factor is that all of creation strives to make the journey.’ as one odu-Ifa says: “Life is a given.

Untitled – Ishola Folorunsho The Blessed Voyage – Emmanuel Emvic 23 .

the king was the political.’ This statement provides insight into why each of these artists placed the wife/wives beside the King. These ceremonial leaves are a very important traditional symbol used during chieftancy and coronation ceremonies. judicial. The presence of drummers and a crowd in each of these scenes creates the powerful suggestion of celebration. A King is often referred to as ‘Kabiyesi’ meaning. The five pieces in this collection are another presentation of the three generations of Folorushos deliberately juxtaposed to show the artistic similarities and styles when treating the same theme. In The Chieftaincy Title Ceremony. In the past. and The Chieftaincy Title Ceremony. There is a popular Yoruba saying. In each of these pieces. and economic head of his people. which means. Awarding Chieftaincy Titles. or ‘Igbakeji orisha’. The King has been relieved of most of his powers by governmental institutions. the green leaves beneath the chief ’s hat are known as ‘Ewe Akoko’. the essence of royalty is captured in these brilliant pieces by the three Folorunshos. social. ‘There is no honour for a King without a Queen. represents one of the basic functions of royalty and a core tradition of the Yoruba people: the act of bestowing Chieftaincy titles on worthy and deserving subjects. However. spiritual. Emvic presents three works concerning the ceremonies of Chieftaincy. The King was the final authority on all issues and the custodian of customs and traditions.Royalty The King is a very important figure in Yoruba culture and tradition. This process could be based on rights of traditional custom through lineage. Another prominent figure and significant symbol for royalty in the pieces is the ‘praise singer. The portrayal of royalty is very common in Yoruba traditional art forms. ‘He who is second only to the gods’. 24 . or by merit as a mark of honor and appreciation. including symbols of his authority like the crown on his head and the horsetail in his hand.’ The ‘praise singer’ is the man with the bugle whose job is to constantly praise King. Each work. in modern times. Emvic’s works highlight the most significant moment in the ceremony when the King places his horsetail on the new chief ’s head as a sign of blessing. ‘He whose authority must not be questioned’. Receiving King’s Blessing. This tendency derives from the cultural sense of respect for tradition and authority. the King is presented in his royal regalia. In these pieces. either through verbal chanting or by blowing on his bugle.

The Chieftaincy Title Ceremony – Emmanuel Emvic Untitled – Y. Folorunsho 25 .

26 Untitled – Ishola Folorunsho Untitled – Ishola Folorunsho Receiving King’s Blessings – Emmanuel Emvic .

Awarding Chieftaincy Titles – Emmanuel Emvic Untitled – Toyin Folorunsho 27 .

As a king.Sango Sango was the legendary third king of the great and ancient Oyo Empire. but also in far away places such as Brazil. Myth has it that he was a son of Yemoja and history has it that Osun the water goddess. he brought prosperity to his kingdom. Puerto Rico. was one of his three wives. The relationship between Sango and Osun makes him an inspiring subject for the Folorunshos based on their tribal affiliation with Osun. His devotees can be found not only in Yorubaland. These two pieces by the Folorunshos depicts the grandeur of Sango. Both artists presented Sango as the warrior king by adorning him in his war skirt and holding on to his ‘Ose’. Sango’s symbol of authority is a wooden carved double-headed axe. This work depicts a drummer playing on a ‘bata’ drum. lightning and energy. Sango is also referred to as the entertainment god of the arts of dancing and drumming. he was equally feared and respected by his subjects and enemies due to his ability to emit fire from his mouth when angry. Haiti. One of the pieces even shows fire coming out of his mouth. Emvic’s The Chief Traditional Drummer can be seen from the aspect of a tribute to Sango. Trinidad and Venezuela. and an integral instrument in the worship of the god of thunder and lightning. who was later deified as the god of thunder. Despite some differences in individual representation by both artists. He is also one of the most prominent and most widely worshipped of all the gods. and as a skirt wearing warrior king. It represents swift and balanced justice. Cuba. 28 . known in the traditional parlances as ‘Ose’. one can still observe that the royalty of Sango is not undermined. a drum mainly attributed to Sango.

Folorunsho The Chief Traditional Drummer – Emmanuel Emvic 29 .Untitled – Toyin Folorunsho Untitled – Y.

Livelihood & Domestic Life When a good leader rules. or emi yepere. ere osupa are played. Toyin Folorunsho and Emmanuel Emvic) depict the ordinary flourishing life of the Yoruba people in paintings and imprints on metal sheets. The artists (Y. Recreational games like Ayo. Amongst the Yoruba people. the Alaafin of Oyo was revered as the iku baba yeye. Buyers and sellers in the markets reap their benefits. the wives complement the husbands by taking care of the home. A life without potential. 30 . The parents in their turn offer them a life-time prayer. Domestic life is a strong component of livelihood among the Yoruba people. Rivers grow rich with fish for fishermen. alase ekeji orisa – “the one death deemed fit enough for all. or ohun alumoni aye. while the children rejoice in wholesomeness. Children respect their parents. In the old Oyo empire. he whose command is second only to the gods. a strong notion of domestic life becomes a relevant element of governance. Cultural festivals are celebrated in their time. The men provide for the family. dared not curtail the domestic activities embedded in life. Isola Folorunsho. The art works also take other aspects of livelihood as a potential aspect for the fulfillment of life.” Even the Alaafin. gidigbo. including feeding the family. as a family man. Pregnancies are delivered into safe hands. The clouds grow dark with rain which will soften the soil for a good harvest. Folorunsho. This harmonious experience is the essence of the joy humans celebrate in living. the lives of the ruled flourish. The Yoruba people use these cultural values as a way of measuring their relationships with other tribes or races when the need arises. These are ways that the lives of the ruled flourish. is a wasted one. Elders recount tales when the moonlight shines.

Untitled – Ishola Folorunsho 31 .

32 Prayer for the Twins The Moonlight Tales Emmanuel Emvic .

The Child Dream An Indigo Woman From Oshogbo Child Care at Oracle Clinics Emmanuel Emvic 33 .

34 Home is the Best Child Care at Herbal Clinic Wrestle in my Mama Village Emmanuel Emvic .

Ayo Game Naming Ceremony in Yoruba Land Emmanuel Emvic 35 .

36 The Moonlight Tales Child’s Care at Babalawo Clinic Emmanuel Emvic .

Village Life Village Life Under Palm Tree Emmanuel Emvic 37 .

‘Our harvest shall be bountiful every year. When these harvests fail. but as an essence of Olodumare – the omnipotent God. Harvesting is an industry. Amin o. the Yoruba people can accept harvesting. In Egypt of the Bible when Joseph’s dream saved Pharaoh and the entire kingdom from impending famine. The economic power of a country or an individual can be built primarily through harvesting farm produce. but the images have a familiar resonance throughout the world. the god of harvest) the kingdom or government will fall. as a result of bad weather or governance affecting domestic life. With this belief system. 38 . or. harvests were stored away so that the land would not witness unprecedented chaos from food shortages. The special attention paid it by Isola Folorunsho demonstrates both the strength of this chain and its role in Yoruba culture. These pieces of metal work also depict the business that cycle of harvest brings into the Yoruba community. Festivals are usually organized to mark the crucial month of harvest. ka k’ere oko.. The Yoruba idea of hard work stems from the quality of a family’s harvest every year. Harvesting is the last task in in the cycle of farming activities. either spiritually or physically. The metal inscription used by Isola is quite unique. Farming and harvesting are so crucial to Yoruba society that these cycles have become a part of our calendar. as a crucial ritual. And except when there is a problem.. it is a sign of a problem. not only as means to sustain livelihood. a good harvest guarantees a good life for the community. Harvest is a very strong ‘chain’ in the connection of a Yoruba community. but it is more important than all others because farming is not useful without harvest.’ The artists here recreate a past time when the Yoruba’s main livelihood came only from farming. A good harvest is the bedrock of any stable community. either domestically or economically. If the spiritual or physical problem is not dealt with through sacrifices or appeasement to the gods (especially to Orisa oko.Harvest The prayer on every Yoruba farmer’s lips is: T’odun ba de. Isola’s metal inscription gives one graphic detail of farmers carrying baskets of harvests and shows how people can create this wealth.

Women’s Role in Agriculture A Couple Farmer Emmanuel Emvic 39 .

40 Untitled – Ishola Folorunsho .

Untitled – Ishola Folorunsho 41 .

the god of war and iron. Traditionally. When palm wine is boiled on a fire and the vapour is collected. In this way celebration. People sell palm wine. Folorunsho a master artist. the Yoruba people know no other drink for celebration. Currently. except emu. The history of this popular wine amongst the Yorubas dates back to the birth of Ogun. Those who know the sad and humble story of Ogun and palm wine respect the relationship between the two.Palmwine Good palm wine is an attribute of a good harvest. The three metal imprints chronicle the images of three different generations in the Folorunsho family and communicate the joy that comes from palm wine. palm wine has become a strong part of a family’s livelihood. 42 . Both are used in making offerings to the gods. but it intoxicates a person with just two cups. As time passed. but the myth surrounding Ogun would not let the story of palm wine die. despite the changes brought about through globalization. and palm wine. the grandson. Palm wine is harvested from palm-trees and comes in two forms: Oguro and Sepete. the tapper must climb to the top of the tree to get the drink. but makes its drinker just a little tipsy. who was also a hot tempered fighter. Ogun defended his people in the town of Ire. As a result. In those days. he ended up killing the same people he loved so dearly. Spirits and hard alcohol drunk in the West can be distilled from palm wine. Palm wine mythologically represents the fierceness of Ogun. it forms as a spirit. the Yoruba god of war and iron. palm trees. Sepete is very sweet. while exercising patience in filling the gourd. The drink is highly intoxicating and can burn the intestine if not diluted before drinking. merriment. In order to get palm wine. Isola is the son and his son Toyin. Ogun is the warriorking who discovered palm wine. The constant use of gourds and palm-trees in the metal art works refers to the intrinsic relations between the gourd. the gourd has become the symbol of palm wine even today. people preserved palm wine in a gourd. Filling a gourd takes several days. of Y. and especially to Ogun. while Oguro has a sour taste. Strong elements of Yoruba culture persist from generation to generation of artists. other form of wines began to surface among the Yorubas. and parties cannot happen without palm wine. but since he was easily provoked.

Local Wine Collectors – Emmanuel Emvic 43 .

44 Palm Wine Tapper – Toyin Folorunsho The Blessed Palmwine Tapper – Emmanuel Emvic .

Folorunsho 45 .Untitled – Ishola Folorunsho Untitled – Y.

and devotees. encapsulates the essence of the festival in this beautiful piece. This concern can be easily observed in the use of fish to “make up” the calabash carrier’s outfit. Subsequently.’ who also happens to be the most significant person of the entire festival. Every year. One of the companion pieces shows the16 lamps and an Osun acolyte. At the bottom of this piece is the final stage of the festival. or observers. Starting with the Osun priests. which is the actual offering of the sacrifice.Osun Oshogbo Osun Oshogbo is an annual social and spiritual festival which takes place in Oshogbo town in Yorubaland. her devotees converge at the river to give thanks for favours received in the previous year. and the 16 lamps lit at the beginning of the festival to symbolize the 16 corpora of ‘ifa’ divination. she was the only female. Osun also has the powers of fertility and is able to grant favours. In An Ancient Osun Calabash Carrier. and offer sacrifice for things they expect in the coming year. 46 . he also depicts the procession with the King on a horse accompanied by his entourage. The festival celebrates Osun. The sacrifice is poured into the river. he introduces us to ‘Arugba – the Calabash Carrier. she must also be a virgin to perform this duty. a resident of Oshogbo town. priestesses. initiates. while the ‘Calabash Carrier’ is depicted alone in the other. Emvic’s emphasis is focused on the spiritual nature of Osun and her relationship with water and fish. the water goddess who transformed herself into a river instead of dying. Like Yemoja. Myth indicates that among all the initial gods that ‘Olodumare. Isola Folorunsho. the Creator’ sent to earth. In a way. Not only does Arugba carry the big calabash containing the major sacrifice to the river. tourists. while Isola has chosen a big fish as a representation of Osun to accept the sacrifice. this shows the two sides of the Osun Oshogbo as both a propitiatory and celebratory festival. People from all over the world come as worshippers. who has been part of many of these celebrations. and the townspeople on their way to the river.

An Ancient Oshun Calabash Carrier – Emmanuel Emvic Untitled – Ishola Folorunsho 47 .

In the background. Water Scarcity. he portrays how corruption in both politics and the government in Nigeria impacts the masses. 48 . while the Nigerian people suffer. everyone is involved.Social Commentary In some of his works. others are protesting or fighting for theirs with guns and machetes. while another carries a pot on her head. Some look on helplessly. and there are even those who are too weak to stand on their own feet. and there are fish poking their heads out of the water. in the corrupt politics of the country. while the poor resort to wells. one politician is even clutching a briefcase with a dollar sign on it. These officials deplete the national treasury and fly all over the world stashing their loot in foreign banks. In this painting. and streams as water sources. Hausa and Ibo. Emvic shows a woman kneeling and filling a pot of water in her hand. ponds. while water taps in the bigger towns and cities operate erratically. but end up serving their personal interests over the people who supported their bid for office. In The Politicians that Fly Away with Our Money. there are other women coming to fetch water. and another woman with a baby tied to her back who is going home with a pot filled with water on her head. The design of their caps indicate that they are representatives of the major tribes in Nigeria: Yoruba. Emvic creates a powerful visual argument condemning the politicians who are voted into power by the people. Most of the smaller towns and villages lack pipeborne water. deals with one of the most significant problems in Nigeria. like the woman with a baby on her back. While some are begging for their rights. Below the politicians are the downtrodden masses. Emvic depicts the politicians flying away in a helicopter with money in their hands. Rich people sink bore holes in their compounds. Despite the abundance of rivers and lakes throughout the country.. Emvic treats contemporary issues while continuing to strictly adhere to a traditional style of painting. The fourth man may represent the remaining minority tribes because. while others drink away their lives in order to escape reality. many people still lack potable drinking water.

The Politicians That Fly Away With Our Money Water Scarcity Emmanuel Emvic 49 .

while others look dreadful and wild. There are many kinds of egunguns with different attributes and functions. we see the egungun dancing with a couple which is a sign of celebration. offer them money and send messages through the egunguns to their departed ones. and the world of the unborn. Egunguns. depicts a fierce and scary looking masquerade carrying a calabash of fire on his head. while there are others associated with certain religious rites and rituals who return at specific times. The egunguns are representatives of the dead among the living as the physical manifestations of the spirit of the ancestors.Egungun (Masquerade) The egungun is very symbolic in the Yoruba traditional belief system. as seen in the many eyes behind him. Other egunguns are associated with particular families. This heaven is not necessarily a Judeo-Christian heaven. or. are referred to as ‘ara orun’. Emvic’s piece. while others still are communally linked to Yoruba culture. The egunguns come out to entertain and bless the people who. In one of the pieces. 50 . Among the Yorubas. The Egungun festival is one of the annual social and spiritual celebrations common to the Yorubas. There are entertainers who come out during the annual egungun festival. the world of the spirits. and the land of the dead. the cosmological understanding of human existence revolves around the trilogy of the world of the living. In this collection of egunguns. King’s Masquerade. ‘the people from heaven’. he presents a friendlier and mellow looking masquerade who is an entertainer with a drummer and crowd of admirers. Some egunguns are friendly. While in Eleleture. What is known today as Yoruba Theatre was derived from egungun performances. the world of the dead. The occasion could happen once in every seven years. Ishola Folorunsho presents different egunguns in their full regalia based on their type. in return. or occur during coronation or burial rites of a king. but includes the world beyond. therefore.

Eleleture Masquerade King’s Masquerade Emmanuel Emvic 51 .

52 Untitled .Ishola Folorunsho .

Untitled .Ishola Folorunsho 53 .

1967-1973 and his secondary education in at Secondary Commercial Grammar School. I have participated in so many exhibition here in Nigeria like Goethe Institute.The Artists Emmanuel Emvic Mr. Ishola Folorunso “I. I was trained under my master Asiru Olatunde from Gbodupe Compound as well. He is now Curator of “Emvic Art Gallery” Oshogbo situated at No 14. He worked with him between 1987-1992 before establishing his own residence in Oshogbo which he subsequently developed as a cultural embassy and gallery compound. “Emvic” did further art studies at the Institute of Textile Technology Art and Design affiliated to Yaba College of Technology. 1974-1979. Ada. Dorcas Ogunniran (Nee Abraham). Between 1980-1983.O. Alliance France. He was born into the Christian family of Mr. Lagos where he received his National Diploma (N. Oshogbo. Ada.D) in Graphic Art and Textile Design. Osun State. Mama Adunni Olorisa. I worked with Ayo Idibo at the National Theatre Lagos. Ogunniran Israel and Mrs. P. He then settled in Oshogbo training with famous world artist Chief Twins Seven Seven. Fadare Avenue Ota Efun Area Oshogbo. I live in Oshogbo with my wife and the children. Ogunniran Kolawole Emmanuel popularly known as “Emvic” was born in 1958 at Ada in Boripe Local Government Area of Osun State. I found myself happy whenever I am doing my hardwork. Mr Ishola Folorunso was born in Oshogbo in 1949 in the house Gbodupe Compound in Oshogbo. Box 395. the devote of Osun worshiper was among the people who inspired me and encourage me of this work and introduce me to her colleagues whenever they visit her. American exhibition and so on.” 54 . Emvic had his primary education at Saint Andrew Primary School. Germany exhibition.

Wedlock Of The Gods. Makinde has worked with reputable organizations like BBC (Voices) Mo’ment (An M-NET talk show) and individuals in the theatre and literary circle across the world. Nigeria. After working professionally in the theatre. The Gods Are Not To Blame. obtaining a postgraduate diploma in Theatre Arts from the same university. After concluding his master’s degree program. Alamori (the play that represented Nigeria in the Cairo International Experimental Theatre Festival 2005) I Confess. Opera Wonyosi (MUSON festival 2005). Open Your Eyes (NAFEST 2007. television and film industries in Nigeria as an actor and a director. Ayo currently works for the Shaw Festival Theatre. He is married to Carrie and they have two kids. graduated as a Directing student from Obafemi Awolowo University and has since then directed notable plays-: Death And The King’s Horseman. specializing in directing and media production. Joseph And The Amazing Technicolour Dream Coat. Ayo migrated to Canada in 2004 and did a postgraduate program in documentary film production at Humber College. Sodom And Kolombia. Makinde Adeniran Makinde Adeniran hails from Ogun State in Nigeria. He has since worked on some stage plays. Who’s Afraid Of Solarin. Ogun state artistic director) In the quest for documentation of his personal experiences and researches through life. Agbara. documentaries and feature films. Beggars’ Opera.The Curators Ayo Adewumi Ayo Adewumi studied philosophy at the University of Ibadan. Jesus Super Star Khaki–A–Go-Go. A Resting Place (FESTINA 2004). Tyrese and Tayo. and several other HIV/AIDS drama skits. and a new baby. He has written some plays: Abiku (An adaptation of Ben Okri’s “The Famished Road”). Toronto. Omotola. Ajantala. (still in progress) Abinibi (A memoir – also in progress). Muje-Muje. he went further with his postgraduate studies. Tai. Odun-Ifa. . writing plays became a veritable tool in the hands of Makinde to combat societal ills.

the City of St. and Ontario Trillium Foundation.Niagara Artists Centre (NAC) is a not-for-profit. . NAC is one of the oldest artist-run organizations in Canada. Catharines. the Ontario Arts Council. Founded in 1969 as a collective of working artists. member-driven collective formed by and dedicated to serving the working artists and community of Niagara. charitably registered. NAC gratefully acknowledges the support of the Canada Council for the Arts.