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#Pulse36 Day 5: Something incredible is happening in UNIBEN

Are there any people who love art like Benin people in Nigeria?

We loads of plans today and loads of places to cover, but;

Travel lesson: If you’re going to be on the road for a long time, don’t travel in the raining season.

Our plan today was the University of Benin. I’ve heard so much about how much art can be found there. So we set out planning to see as much as we can.

Of course that was after rain ruined most of our plans for the day, stopping only around noon.

This is the first building you see in front of you when you enter the Main Campus of the University of Benin in Ugbowo.play

This is the first building you see in front of you when you enter the Main Campus of the University of Benin in Ugbowo.

(Pulse36)

We arrived at UNIBEN’S main campus and to be honest, it was just there. Nothing particularly spectacular.

We left just as quickly as we arrived, what we were looking for wasn’t here.

Then we headed for Ekenwan campus. The bump at the campus gate woke me up, and when I looked out, on both sides of the entire road were incredible works to art. Never in my life have I set my eyes on this much art. In one place.

The most interesting observation I’ve had in Benin so far first hit me at Ring Road. Everyone seemed to be in a hurry, and no one seemed to notice how brilliant the works of art I was looking at are.

Something incredible is happening in UNIBENplay

Something incredible is happening in UNIBEN

(Pulse36)

But then again, they’ve lived here all their lives. Idanre Hills didn’t particularly excite the people the way it excited us. Living around these things has normalised them.

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Maybe it takes an outsider’s perspective sometimes to remember how beautiful we are. Just maybe.

This campus is so small, every one seemed to know each other.

But I wasn’t here for their own familiarity to be honest. I was here for their art.

Something incredible is happening in UNIBENplay

Something incredible is happening in UNIBEN

(Pulse36)

I spent a few hours working round the school and counting the number of sculptures I could find. I think I counted everything, but I also lost track at about 120, with about 20 more to go max.

The Artist here created something depicting the slavery era.play

The Artist here created something depicting the slavery era.

(Pulse36)

Most of these works were final year projects of students. I asked someone why there was so much.

He said I’d find twice to thrice this number at Auchi Polytechnic.

Here are some of the brilliant ones I found.

I made some pretty interesting new friends.

Something incredible is happening in UNIBENplay

Something incredible is happening in UNIBEN

(Pulse36)

Follow our #Pulse36 travel stories on Instagram @pulsenigeriatravel

The boy’s name is Awesome. And we had a pretty interesting conversation, to me at least.

“Hello, my name is Fu’ad. What’s your name?”

“Awesome.”

The awesome child called AWESOMEplay

The awesome child called AWESOME

(Pulse36)

“Your name is Awesome? Wow. Awesome.”

I ask again, “do you know the meaning of Awesome?”

He just shakes his head, and for a moment it feels like a person is working around with a piece of gold thinking it’s copper.

I imagine how awesome it would be growing up knowing his name means something so aspirational.

“Somethings are good”, I said, “but somethings are very very good. Those things that are very very good, we call them awesome.”

Something incredible is happening in UNIBENplay

Something incredible is happening in UNIBEN

(Pulse36)

He smiled. “You’re very awesome, Awesome.”

He looked a little confused, but I hope he remembers this for a long time.

Then we talked about The Avengers. And Spiderman. And Hulk. He likes the green one very much.

“Awesome, can you see that this statue looks like a female Thor?”

“Yesssss! But I still like Hulk.”

I found this sculptor who took the “Bull By The Horn” idiom too literally.

When I first saw this sculpture, I just wondered how many destinies would fit into this giant shell.

I found this incredible work the Sculptor named “Entrapment”. But I’m choosing to call it “This life na setup.”

There’s also this one of a woman, so apt.

Something incredible is happening in UNIBENplay

Something incredible is happening in UNIBEN

(Pulse36)

Another one I found particularly stunning was the unfinished work of a final year student, Prince.

He’s making a sculpture of the current Oba of Benin, Oba Ewuare II. He let me have a peek at the Oba whos almost impossible to be seen by a commoner.

But I don’t think anyone struck me like this last one I’m about to show you.

The sculpture of the child was falling apart and was supported by a plank.

And then I thought, maybe it just goes to show children need all the support they can get.

Tomorrow, we’ll be speaking to more students, and then off we go to Warri, about one hour away.

*All photos were shot on the Samsung Galaxy S8+.

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