Juliana Taiwo-Obalonye, Abuja
President Muhammadu Buhari, as part of activities to mark this Nigeria’s 58th Independence Day anniversary, will declare open a photo exhibition tagged ANISZA, which is aimed at promoting unity and patriotism among Nigerians.
The exhibition slated for October 1, in Abuja, is a bold response to the ethnic and religious agitations that have bedeviled the country since it got its independence from Britain in 1960, according to the organizers.
The organisers added that exhibition will showcase pictures used to appeal to the people to stop the agitations, drama, hate speeches, division but rather embrace peace and work together for a united country.
ANISZA is an acronym coined by combining words from Hausa, Igbo and Yoruba, and depicting unity.
ANISZA’ was derived from the first two letters of three indigenous Nigerian languages – Anoko Onu – Igbo word for togetherness; Isokan – Yoruba word for unity; and Zaman Tare – Hausa words for one tribe.
According to the Personal Photographer to the Vice President and Special Assistant to the President on Visual Communication, Novo Isioro, the visionary of ANISZA, at a press conference in Abuja, the exhibition is “a Nigerian idea that is set to address the needless agitations that Nigerians are faced with, fanning the embers of disunity.”
She added “we have seen contestations among adherents of the various religious and ethnic groups in the country.
“There have been tensions that have been generated because of our differences. But I think that this diversity should be celebrated and not be a problem.
“So, I just thought about this tendency towards disunity, and as a visual artist, I understand how image tells the story more than words.
“So, I thought that we should use pictures to tell the stories of strength in diversity.
“The idea is to use pictures to speak to the people to stop the agitations, the drama, the hate speeches, division and instead work together.
“This is practically focused on young people. I realised that most people especially the young ones really don’t understand our history.”
Isioro explained that the exhibtion would be taken, using a mobile gallery, to the 36 states and focus on schools.
“We are collaborating with state governments and federal ministries to take this gallery to schools in their domain to get as many children as possible to benefit from the project. But we are also having an online platform that we will use to keep the message alive.
“But for October 1, we are inviting students from schools across the country. We plan to host the students for three days during which there will be a symposium, an exhibition and a mini-tour.”
Other partners in the project, the Managing Editor of Daily Times, Bonaventure Melah, Mayo Adesiran, Museum and Heritage consultant, Murphy Emamezi, project manager, Sadiq, providing technical support said the initiative would also showcase forgotten values and the essence of maintaining Nigeria’s heritage for the purpose of promoting unity.
Melah, stressed that Nigeria needed patriotic citizens more than oil because the problem of unity had to come first of all from lack of patriotism.
“No country can achieve greatness when the citizens do not love the country.
“It is only when we bring our various unique differences to the centre that we can form a greater and prosperous nation,” he said.
Adediran, a former top Federal Government official on Museums and Archives, now a Consultant, said preserving Nigeria’s cultural heritage was as important as promoting the country’s economic potentials.
Adeniran said that sometimes human memory might fail us but when we put concentrated information in a monument, it became a historical fact that jolted the memory each time we walked past.
Bello, one of the technical managers in the group, on his part said that the project intended to `excite and spark’ all the senses of unity to see that Nigeria indeed became a great nation.
Emamezi, said that love was what drove true patriotism and a sense of unity among any people.