Nigerian hyper realistic artist, Chiamonwu Ifeyinwa Joy has severally wowed her social media followers with her drawings which she draws with charcoal pencil on Strathmore paper. You would think the drawings are photos.
In her drawing titled Ifejioku A.D, Chiamonwu displayed her extraordinary talent using the feature of a youth to tell a historical story about how Igbo people value and revere yam. She uses her art to project Igbo culture and the traditions.
She got her inspiration from the works of Chinua Achebe’s Things Fall Apart and Adiele Afigbo’s Ropes of Sand, two men vast in knowledge of the culture of Igbo people, whose writings are deep and highlight a culture of yam reverence from the planting to the harvesting. And then is celebrated as new yam festival; a festival which attracts people from far and wide.
“The yam god (Ifejioku) and the earth goddess (ani) are the deities that are the spirit-force that laid down the specific code of conduct for cultivating, harvesting, cooking and eating the yam. New yams could not be eaten until some had first been offered to these powers. The Igbo people always look forward to the New Yam Festival because it began the season of plenty – The New Year.” Chiamonwu wrote about the description as adopted from Achebe and Afigbo works.
Ifejioku, the god of yam planting and harvesting must be proud of Chiamonwu who has tried to connect with history using the structure of a youth.
Chiamonwu tries to remind the young Igbos and indeed youths all over the world of the strength and pride in planting to be able to feed a home, friends and the society. During the new yam celebration, every man “whose arm was strong” (a capable person) as the Igbo people would say, is expected to invite guests from far and wide.
The artwork depicts a proud young man holding his cutlass and his very healthy and matured yam standing legs apart in full control of his existence and pride in the work of his hand. With the hat protecting him from the sun, Chiamonwu showed that you can reap from the toils of your hand.
The young man is well built. Wearing his loincloth, it shows that farming doesn’t require cosmetic. With his bare chest, he can fathom the vagaries of farming which harvest comes from the amount of concentration, energy and skill put in to realize a bountiful harvest.
The yam is held firmly with pride depicting the reverence and respect the Igbo people accord yam. By holding the cutlass on the left hand and yam on the right hand, it tells of the work that needs to be done for a good harvest. You till with the left hand and harvest with the right hand – If one does not plant, one cannot reap.
The work also shows that, the strength of the youth is required in farming and also shows farming is yet not old fashioned but to be embraced by the youth.