Modern Day Yoruba Life – as seen by Emmanuel Jegede
Born in 1943 in Nigeria, Emmanuel Jegede is a Yoruban painter, sculptor, and poet. Emmanuel studied in Lagos at Yaba College of Technology, before moving to England in 1963 to further his training in the decorative arts, interior design, sculpture and bronze-casting. Whilst his work bears the marks of his Yoruba Ekiti background, it is clearly marked by his own "creative ebullience and distinctive presence".
Emmanuel has interpreted Yoruba culture with perceptible yet subtle political and idiosyncratic statements. “Art without ideology is dead,” he upholds, yet his ideology defies ready categories. The traditional forms of his native Nigerian arts are infused with traits of figurative European modernism.
Emmanuel has worked as artist-in-residence at many colleges, art centres and schools. In recent years his poems and prose have been as enthusiastically received as his paintings. Emmanuel, in all the manifestations of his creativity, presents his interpretation of life in a myriad of compelling ways.
He has held over 30 mixed exhibitions and over 18 one man shows in Nigeria, Britain, Canada, Germany, Ireland and France amongst other countries. His work is held in public collections in Nigeria, Trinidad, the UK and Jamaica.
Below, Emmanuel shares his thoughts on contemporary Yoruba society, politics, and economics.
Nigeria is divided into states, with each having its own capital and its own government.
Whilst there was once a very narrow class division between the 'Royal Class' and the 'ordinary people,’ the social climate has changed and a powerful 'educated class' has emerged, causing greater societal division.
Emmanuel talks of his children's perceptions when they visited Nigeria for the first time.
‘Oba’ roughly translates as ‘king’ or ‘monarch’. Unlike the British, or indeed most European monarchies, the number of Obas is not static.