Arts and Governance: Conversation Starter for Young People
Last year, Onelife Initiative unveiled its ‘safe space’ wall. The wall is a collage of mural paintings depicting the issues affecting the society, particularly young people. The paintings represent the state of thing as exists at the time it was commissioned, and several of the issues are recurrent. The depiction of social issues through art is our way of showing that there are different mediums of communicating with different people. We are also clearly showing that through art, young people can engage the social space and get attention for a cause they are passionate about especially as young people also did the paintings. This post reviews the governance section:
The Headless Youth
This is perhaps the most striking image on the mural. We see a transaction between a flamboyantly dressed young man and a politician type figure. The commodity being traded is his vote at the polls. But this seemingly simple commercial transaction is an exchange of more than just money; it is an exchange of his future — his head.
In a background image, we see a politician on a podium depicting a victory ceremony: the electoral process has been altered to guarantee his victory. This visual representation is a sad reminder of how sometimes our electoral process plays out with the issue of Vote Buying! It is reported as one of the major widespread electoral malpractices in Nigeria. Not only does vote buying taint the credibility of the election it also leads to unqualified people assuming political offices. Every vote sold has far-reaching consequences.
Social Amenities: Taps that Run Dry!
In a different mural, we see people with gloomy faces lining up to fetch watch water at a public tap. A tap that was commissioned as a ‘capital project’ by the elected representative, and only function on the day of commissioning running dry afterwards. This is what they have gotten for selling their votes at the elections. By the way, the tap by the mural pours!
On the flip side we see what should be the actual dividends of democracy; construction of good roads, renovations of classrooms, improved health care systems. This is what is obtainable when the proper people are elected into public offices. However, the fact that mistakes were made at the polls does not take away the right of the people to demand proper social amenities for themselves and their communities.
The Organs of Government
Also captured is the maze of office being held by a strong fist, a depiction of the strength of democracy. Democracy is all about representation and the legislative arm of government is the manifest display of democracy. It is this awareness that has informed movements such as Open NASS, Not Too Young To Run, Constitutional Review, Freedom of Information Act etc. We are starting to see increased youth participation in the political space and this we hope would bring about the growth and development we want to see in this country. It’s Mural 1.0. Hopefully, by 2023, we’ll update with Mural 2.0 again telling the stories of that time in other art forms.
When Adolescents and Young People come to the Centre, They are always held spellbound by the mural painting, making comments about the issues, arguing about some, providing new insight in some instances and they never fail to take a selfie.