Sunday, 7 April 2013

"Living In Silence" Art Exhibition

....which was organised by the NGO I founded -Centre for Deaf Rights and Empowerment was successfully held on the 3rd -5th April at Transcorp Hilton Abuja. This was done to (create and) raise awareness of deafness.

We all know that arts are languages that all people 'speak' that cut across all sorts of barriers; be they social, cultural, educational,etc. Art is a form of self-expression. This has enabled the messages of many of the artworks by the deaf artists during this exhibition be passed on without the need for 'interpretation'. Art provide opportunities for collaboration and this has proven to be so during this exhibition; with all the artists coming together for a common goal. All the participating artists come from differing backgrounds and have different styles in their art.

On Tuesday (the day before the exhibition started), I was given the opportunity to speak on the very amiable Jojo's show on CoolFM. I spoke about the need for the public to be aware of the various impact of deafness -functional (where the ability of the individual with hearing impairment communicates with others), social/emotional impact in which limited access to services and exclusion from the society give rise to certain feelings like loneliness, frustration. And lastly, I talked about the economical impact where there is a need to improve access to education, employment to provide a platform for "equal opportunities" in a society where there is already a very high rate of unemployment in the hearing working force. I was asked about the challenges which I face as a person with a hearing impairment particularly in Nigeria- Jojo steadfastly refuses to use the word 'deafness' and I give her a lot of kudos because her awareness about deafness is above-average in the Nigerian context; given the fact that she grew up with an aunty who has a 'hearing impairment'.

Two students from the School of the Deaf, Kuje also participated and they were motivated by the wealth of art display. I had earlier visited their school and like many under-funded schools across Nigeria, their school needs a whole lot of improvement. The school adjacent to the Deaf School is a secondary school and employs an "inclusive" environment in which the older deaf students learn alongside hearing students. Here, sign language interpreters interpret what the teachers say and I must say at this point that it is not a conducive environment to learn in. It does not take someone with a degree in special education to see that having someone just interpreting what another adult says is hardly an effective way of learning. Little wonder that many deaf students who pass through that sort of teaching method don't fare well. This has absolutely NOTHING to do with their intelligence as some ignorant people would make of it. So much needs to be done in the area of Deaf education in Nigeria! Learning aids should be made a priority in these schools.

There were a lot of visitors to the exhibition and many were curious (a very good thing!). I had few parents of deaf children come by and I am really glad that they did as that would encourage more parents/guardians of deaf children to be more aware but more importantly , take their childrren's education seriously. I believe that the goal of raising awareness of deafness was met during this event. I have been reminded of the need to carry the awareness outside so hopefully, you'll be hearing of more exhibitions....

Please visit the link which will let you have a look at how the exhibition went:

And I would like to seize the opportunity to thank the management of Transcorp Hilton Abuja for making the event possible. Also to the following organisations for their support; Projektglobus, Dullion Group and SPINE: fixed in Abuja and the media: CoolFM, AIT (Raypower) and NTA for covering the event. I will not forget the awesome encouragement given by family and friends.

Let's do it again!!