NNEKA MOTHER IS SUPREME (lbo.)
DORIS E. ROGERS (Professor)
Umana Yana,. Georgetown, Guyana.
Tuesday 14th March Friday 31st March, 1989
Open Hours: 9.00 a.m. 6.00 p.m.
STATEMENT OF THE ARTIST
Art is part of man, it has been with man from the beginning. It is ever
present only to be developed and reassessed from one generation to the next.
Artistic expressions come from man's culture and these are necessary for
man to better his environment and fulfil his purpose in the life cycle.
Knowledge and experience of the traditional art or the sucio-cultural
existence of Nigeria's ethnic peoples have been useful to me. My personal
choice of colours or impulse to use them is symbolic of the life and vitality
of the spirit within the highly vibratory culture.
The works represent my taste tendencies, and are the most desirable and
profound means by which I have made authentic records of a lived
experience. I have insisted upon dynamic interaction between culture and
man as conditions for revealing creative unity of this kind.
Visions of a Time concealed in my mind only to be interpreted within
the norms of tradition and with little revolutionary new forms. I perceive
these vision as a striking ray of light of a culture which I have found to have
impacted on modern art with the magnitude which Greek art had on the
NNEKA MOTHER IS SUPREME (ibo.)
In almost every type of art form, the female figure is more prominently
expressed. This figure may be a goddess or deity or a simple symbol of
Artistic expressions of womanhood emphasize the.mystery and power of
life in the firmly created body with its calm accepting face as a symbol of
mother, she gives fertility to crops and also to human beings. As queen of
the underworld, she receives the dead into her pocket or womb.
HOMAGE TO ELDERS
4 Homage to ciders is essentially based on
the traditions and customs of particular cul-
tures. It generally embraces humility. The
process of greeting is in itself a vocal expres-
sion of humility and solicitude especially
/ when it is a junior person greeting someone
who is senior in age.
In Nigeria. the Urhobo man goes down on
one knee and greets 'MIGWE' meaning ... I
am on my knees. His wife in turn goes down
on both knees and also greets 'MIGWE', while
the respondents says "VRENDO" meaning .
stand up with thanks.
A handshake is a very important way of
greeting among the Hausas. After exchanging
hands both parties place the right hand on
their chest indicating heart-felt feeling and
brotherliness. The method of greeting among
the Hausas varies from locality to another,
so aple, the Fulanis in Yola area greet by simply
raising both hands, showing the palms. The traditional Fulanis on the other
hand greet by bending down (squatting) with both hands placed on the
ground. Kano H-lausas squat with hands resting on their knees during the
The Yoruba-man would life flat on the floor when greeting his in-law
while the Nupe-man will remove his shoes as required by custom before
squatting. This greeting is usually prolonged. The young man also pays
homage by giving gifts of money to his elders.
Homage to Elders 1-IV are expressions using line language. Rhythm,
movements, solemnity are reflected with the use of lines and tones. Motifs
serving as cultural identity arc employed in "-Homage to Elders IV".
The line language thought suggests the movement of the -babanriga" or
"agbada', (a type of flowing gown) under agitation of the wind. This is a
common feature in the Northern part of Nigeria where the weather is usually
dry and in some cases occasioned by wind storm and dust.
The title Homage to Elders generally embraces humility and respect in
social relationships e.g. father-son, religion, tribute or reverence.
The Fulani people live in a great area of
West Africa between Senegal and Northern
Cameroon. They do not live in towns. In
northern parts of Nigeria, the "settled Fulani"
live in the outskirts of the towns of Kano.
Sokoto and Zaria and they mix freely with
the Hausas. They are Muslims and play an
important part in firmly spreading Islam by
For the Fulani, the shape of the gourd
(calabash) is seen as an important every day
domestic utilitarian traditional symbolic
form, the circular configuration of the gourd
gives the illusion of continuity. that is. it
seems to be without beginning or end. It is
like the sphere, the cultural generic symbol of
eternity for the African people. It is identi-
flied with the moon or the solar disc and is the
return to unity from multiplicity. The upper
half being heavenly perfection, the lower half
earth and all.
Gourds vary in size ranging from 4 to 40 inches in diameter. They are
elaborately designed by burning, inlaying, engraving, painting or carving.
The women use these recepticles as peanut-oil or water containers,'dippers
for water, basins for washing clothes, musical instruments and they are
highly prized as light containers to bring food. woven cloth, delicacies to
celebrations such as weddings and naming ceremonies. They are also used in
temples for receiving offerings.
The presentation of Fulani Ritual is the artist's vision of the versatility of
the gourds since they form important social, cultural and religious functions.
The paintings express the beauty of the Fulani women with their specific
style of hair-do. Tall. graceful and resplendant in their traditional decorative
jewellery, their costume sensuously reveal their feminine poise. The paint-
ings are visual expressions of the images which make Nigerian art elaborate
bur .dimple. An expression of simplicity contrasts sophistication.
OLUKON is a mythical deity worshipped by the Bini and believed to
dwell in an underwater palace with a great retinue of attendants both human
and fish-like in form.
OLUKON was the beloved first-born son of OSANOBUA (the supreme
God) who lavished his great wealth on OLUKON, but this did not deter"
OLUKON from constantly challenging his father for supremacy. in wealth
and richness of attire. With the help of his trusted messenger the Chameleon,
OSANOBUA always succeeded in winning the contest.
OSANOBUA decided to send his son OLUKON to rule on earth. On his
way there, OLUKON had to travel through the sea where he met MAMAID
the queen of the sea. MAMAID enticed OLUKON with the riches of her
kingdom and servants, and he agreed to stay and dwell with her in the under-
The first issue of their marriage was a male child who was sent to earth
to rule on his father's behalf, becoming the first OBA (King) of Benin.
Hence the monarchy of Benin is not disputable, but inherited as of right of
birth by every first-born male.
The worship of OLUKON occupies a place of high esteem, and every
house-hold is expected to possess a miniature shrine of OLUKON, who is
worshipped as the God of fertility. Worshippers believe that every female
child must observe the rituals.associated with OLUKON, or else suffer the
penalty of infertility.
Music is undoubtedly an important element in the history and cultural
development of man and is in fact one of the most potent influences in the
social structure of any society.
The people of Nigeria have developed the Art of Music-making to the
highest degree, not only in the diversity of musical instruments among
numerous tribal societies, but in the uniqueness of design and the innate re-
sourcefulness of the people in creating their instruments which they decorate
with animal skins, beads, shells, ivory and precious metals. Musical instru-
ments are personal and precious possessions, and no two are ever exactly
Every instrument is a work of art, and the players themselves are masters
of an Art which goes back in antiquity farther than recorded history. Music
is woven into thile very fabric of African Society and occupies many roles -
religious. ritualistic, ceremonial and social.
Among all instruments, the drum with its strange rhythmic propensities
is the supreme instrument, and professional drummers who are masters par
excellence of their craft occupy a position of paramount importance,
eminence and prestige.
In Nigeria with its complex society, diversity and richness of culture,
Music permeates every facet of life, giving an artistic identity that is at once
functional, traditional, cultural and aesthetic.
S Aiamu Orisa Festfa" it an age long
"+._ & stiva- and the m ib-Ominent in Lagos
-het ropolibotuh in nacieait, dimes and modern.
S- wealthy family i ko (Lagos island) is
e-pCe6 to&haw as aidf C pdfoo rs as can
S- a tdly catered for. The masquerades
at rt nvffly. young.a)le-bodied men in each
Family. Family background is projected in
the number of Eyos that it sent out to repre-
sent it and how gorgeously dressed they are.
For instance" Eyo Ajanaku,. Bajulaiye Eyo
Oba. are noted for wearing long expensive
gold chains. an indication of their social status
However, one particular thing about the Eyos
is that their dress, cap and surplice muit be
white but the quality of the material depends
on what each family can afford. They nor-
mally carry a big tapering stick called 'Opa'.
it serves as a means for defence though
others use it for aggressive purposes at times.
Adanmu Orisa festival is a celebration of peace
with your neighbour and the cosmos at large.
This painting depicts.the Eyo musician. In
the background ore paintings of Eyo
OLUKU RITUAL MASK
In many traditional Nigerian communities, masks are used to represent
ancestors and forces which influence the affairs of the community. They are
worn at both public and secret ceremonies and the wearers are traditionally
believed to bring messages from the dead. fertility, rain or a successful har-
vest. A mask can cover only the face of the wearer, the entire body or it
may be worn on top of the head. Masks are made of wood, painted and de-
corated with ivory, beads, seeds even gold and other metal attached to them
for greater affective presence. To disguise a person as an animal or a spirit-
ual force, raffia and coloured cloth are attached to some masks so that the
body of the wearer is completely hidden.
Oluku Ritual Mask. a cult art, is the artist's impression of the embodi-
ment of the spiritual forces which also render fertility to barren women.
The application of Mixed Media Technique and the multi-dimentional levels
on seemingly flat surface contribute to the enrichment of power and expres-
sions, a distinctive quality found in most African Art.
Mask I is a fragmented expressionistic rendition exquisitely painted
under the category ot social art.
THE ATILOGU DANCERS
This dance is popular among the Ibos of Eastern Nigeria. The dance is done
by males or females. It is. mostly done by teenagers because the dance
entails strenuous acrobatic displays.
This dance is used to grace different occasions. The dancers usually
appear in very colourful costumes which give them dazzling appearances.
Atilogu dance is featured in traditional marriage ceremonies depending on
the importance of the newly wed. It also features in the installation of a
chief otherwise known as Igwe. Atilogu dance also features in New Yam
Festivals which take place once a year, around August. This is the time that
the new yams are harvested and ready for use. Traditionally, it is believed
that the king or chief first cuts the yam and cats before granting his subordi-
nates permission to eat the yam. After this ceremony, the Atilogu dancers
thrill the crowd while the yam is being eaten.
The robes are in a combination of yellow, red, blue and green. They have
a unique head gear which is peculiar to them. This head gear runs from back
of the head through the centre, to the forehead, thereby having front and
back points. It is a colourful as the costumes on the body.
Atilogu dancers appear in different age groups prominent among them
being thirteen years to nineteen years. The dance has many rigorous move-
ments, and formations of human pyramids, summersaulting, spinning, with
back and fore head, leg and waist thrusting. There arc two musicians facing
the dancers. These musicians play on drums and big metal gongs.
Atilogu dance portrays the high cultural heritage of the Ibos in the
Eastern part of Nigeria. They featured prominently at the Second Black
Festival of Arts and Culture (FESTAC) held in Lagos, Nigeria in 1977. Since
then, they have successfully represented Nigeria in several international
ABOUT THE ARTIST
DR. DORIS E. ROGERS of the University of Guyana is Professor of Art
Education and Painting. Other areas of specialisation are Fabric Arts -
weaving, fabric printing, fabric painting, tie-dyeing, batik, ceramics, and
various forms of crafts. She has exhibited both nationally and internationally.
One Person Show
One Person Show
One Person Show
National Museum. Lagos. Nigeria 1983
Bendel State Museum. Nigeria 1982
Paul Robeson Cultural Centre, University Park
U.S.A. 1978 & 1977
Fibre Arts. Altoona Campus.
Penn. State University Pa. U.S.A. 1978
FESTAC. Lagos. Nigeria 1976
Yellow Poui Gallery. Grenada W.I. 1976
CARIFESTA. Jamaica 1976
CARI FESTA. Guyana 1972
Gallery of Art, Howard University U.S.A 1975
Caribbean & Afro-American
Women Artists. Acts of Art Gallery
New York 1975
A.M.E. Gallery, Washington DC, U.S.A. 1974
Ministry of Education, Guyana. 1970
J.F. Kennedy Library, Guyana 1970
Guyana Museum, Guyana. 1969
1. NDUBINSI Creation Life comes First (Ibo.) 40x52 acrylic on canvas.
2. NNEKA- Mother is Supreme (lbo.) 29x52 acrylic on canvas.
3. HOMAGE TO ELDERS IV 29x52 acrylic on canvas.
4. HOMAGE TO ELDERS 1 25x29 acrylic on canvas.
5. HOMAGE TO ELDERS II 25x29 acrylic on canvas.
6. HOMAGE TO ELDERS III 25x29 acrylic on canvas.
7. AGBADA OGHA (Chief in flowing gown) 38x53 oil on hard board
8. FULANI RITUAL 1 51 x27 oil on hardboard mixed media.
9. FULANI RITUAL II 29x 52 acrylic on canvas.
10. FULANI RITUAL III 29x52 acrylic on canvas.
11. FULANI RITUAL IV 25x35 acrylic on canvas.
12. FULANI RITUAL V 25x35 acrylic on canvas.
13. FULANI RITUAL VI 25x35 acrylic on canvas.
14. FULANI RITUAL VII 27x39 acrylic on canvas.
15. MASK 40x52 acrylic on canvas.
16. OLUKUN RITUAL MASK. 40x55 oil on hardboard (mixed media)
17. IN SEARCH OF OLUKUN .- 48x29. oil on plywood
18. RITUAL TO OLUKUN 28x52, oil on hardwood, mixed media.
19. OLUKUN NATIVE DOCTOR --- 23x51 oil on hardboard.
20. DANCE TO OLUKUN 34x52. oil on hardboard.
21. ATILOGU DANCERS 37x53 oil on hardboard.
22. AFTER THE RITUAL 22x52 oil on hardboard.
23. NIGERIAN LANDSCAPE 38x54 oil on hardboard.
24. NIGERIAN LANDSCAPE PALLETA KNIFE 31x52 oil on hardboard.
25. NIGERIAN LANDSCAPE 35x25 oil on hardboard (mixed media).
26. VILLAGE SCENE -- 15x35 oil on hardboard.
27. VILLAGE SCENE II 17x*29 oil on hardboard.
28. VILLAGE SCENE III 17x29 oil on hardboard.
29. VILLAGE SCENE IV 17x29 oil on hardboard.
30. VILLAGE SCENE V 17x29 oil on hardboard.
31. SPIRIT OF THE ARTISTS 32x1 5Y oil on hardboard (mixed media).
* measurements in inches.
32. NOSAKHERE THE MUSICIAN (Edo.; 25x35 acrylic on canvas.
33. ADEBAYO (HAPPINESS) THE MUSICIANS (Yoruba) 29x52 acrylic on
34. EYO MUSICIAN (Yoruba) 29x532 acrylic on canvas.
35. ONEME THE MUSICIAN (Urhobo) 29x52 acrylic on canvas.
36. AMULI THE MUSICIAN (be happy.rejoice (Ibo.; 29x52 acrylic on
37. EMIR OF SOKOTA 18x52 oil on hardboard mixed media.
38. ADEOLA (Crown of wealth (Yoruba) 36x39 oil on hardboard.
39. YINNKA (I am surrounded (Yoruba) 19x23 oil on hardboard. ,
40. ADESWA (full of Wealth (Edo) 25x30 acrylic on canvas.
41. AMINA QUEEN OF ZARIA 25x35 acrylic on canvas.
42. OGUGUA Comfort me from my sorrows (Ibo.) 27x38 oil on
hardwood (mixed media).
43. EMEKA Thanks be to God (Ibo.) 29x53 oil on hardboard.
I .acknowledge with deepest gratitude my sponsors,
University of Guyana and the Department of Culture, also
the co-operation of very many of my friends and well wishers.
Thank you is also extended to Demerara Distillers Ltd.
Guyana National Co-operative Bank Trust, The Republic
Bank, and Guyenterprise for providing refreshments on the
This very brief public acknowledgement is just a token
expression of my appreciation and sincere gratitude for all
that you out and over there have contributed towards
bringing VISIONS OF A TIME to this audience.
Doris E. Rogers ( Professor)