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Looking for the Art Department

The more recently constructed buildings( built after 1997) had that familiarity. Cream-colored buildings had the timeless stamp- the wind had painted glazes of the red Nsukka soil on every standing edifice, giving everything a continuity and semblance. A walk through the streets of the campus left me bewildered. Nsukka( the university campus), in a way, had not changed. From Freedom Square, one can gaze down the trees-lined, wind-swept road. Elation soon turned to an uncomfortable feeling when I read the notice board for the huge building under construction before me, standing right where I remembered half the Fine and Applied Arts department to be! This was the site for the Post-graduate Students building under construction. Now where was the Fine and Applied Arts department? I could see sculptural pieces standing forlorn like lost soldiers away from home. Two long stretches of studios, classrooms and offices had been uprooted. The Ben Enwonwu building still stood its ground. Behind was the old firing kiln and sculpture studio. I asked the students working there,’where is the Fine Arts department? They explained that here was the sculpture studio, while the Ben Enwonwu building housed the painting studio. The Graphics and textiles studios were now in the old premises of the School library. It seemed the department had been decapitated, with limbs scattered. Rage welled up at the thought- who treats Fine and Applied Arts with such disdain? Which Vice Chancellor approved this atrocity?! One had thought that the tertiary institutions were custodians of the finest aspects of the human culture of their immediate environment. I sought out the old university library, to see the rest of the department. Much of the old Nsukka still remained. The cold dawn needed some warming, and some students still preferred to holler and shake violently in prayer( or was it a ploy to keep warm?) The old library was a relic. At the ground floor, a notice read that here was the extension of the Fine and applied arts department. Another signboard on the ground showed where one could find the graphics department. That was it. . Someone way up in administration felt an insecurity-a need to cage, to censor movement. Now almost every building had a surrounding wall or fence. The eyes could not roam the landscape again. Tired, I headed for my hotel room. Some things did not change. It was a typical Nsukka morning, clean and cold, with a light breeze over my face.

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