By Dons Eze
You enter Enugu Coal City, through the Ninth Mille Corner, along the dilapidated Ugwu Onyeama Federal Road, at New Market, you see an art work strategically mounted at its Round About, a flamboyant politician, urging his followers to come along with him in the struggle for freedom.
The art work instantly reminds one of the 1949 Coal Miners’ Strike in Enugu when 21 coalminers in Iva Valley Coalmines, were brutally gunned down by the British Colonial Police for demanding a marginal increase in their salaries, which later became a watershed in the struggle for Nigerian independence.
From that New Market Round About, you move down the slope to the junction linking it with the Milliken Hill, you see another art work. You drive a little bit forward, and take a right flank, and come up to Old Park-Old UNTH Round About, you see another art work.
You may decide to go down the slope, then climb up the Akwatta Hill to the Round About between Coal Camp and the College of Immaculate conception (CIC), you see another art work.
You come back to Old Park-UNTH Round About and turn left towards Okpara Avenue by Chris Chemist Round About, you see another art work. From that Round About, you drive straight to Christ Church by Polo Park, leading to Park Lane Hospital, you see another art work.
At Parklane Hospital itself, you see another art work. At Ogui Road by Emene Road Junction, there is another art work. You then drive up to 82 Division, Nigerian Army, Military Baracks by Abakpa Junction, you see another art work.
You come back to Ogui Road by New Haven Junction, called Otigba Junction, there is another art work. You drive straight from that Ogui Road to Nnamdi Azikiwe Stadium, at the end of O’Connor Street, there is another art work. At the end of Ogui Road by Holy Ghost Road, called Egbuna Round About, there is another art work.
You come back and enter the Presidential Road, and veer off to Rangers Avenue by Enugu State Government House, you see another art work – a freedom fighter, whose chains have now loosened.
Then, at the Round About approach to the Government House, you see another art, a Lion, symbolizing courage, personal strength and power. You now come to the Government House, the same Lion is on guard, watching every entrant into the Lion Building.
There are several other art works at various places in Enugu Coal City, like at the Michael Okpara Square; at the WAEC/State Judiciary Headquarters Junction; at the State House of Assembly; and at the Old Eastern House of Assembly, where the Statue of Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe, first Premier of the defunct Eastern Region, is strategically mounted.
No doubt, each of all these Enugu Art Works have their different meanings and significance, which can be properly explained or interpreted by their creators as well as those who have the eyes for arts.
Unfortunately, not many people have the time or the patience to either admire or appreciate art works. Many
Nigerians appear to be always in a hurry, or are less concerned about their surroundings, either to observe the beautiful works, which nature had endowed on their environment, or to appreciate the creative works of man in their vicinity. Some of them are even totally blind to the works of art
Nigerians who are on the wheels, for instance, are either too much in a hurry to get to their destinations, or are too careful not to collide or hit their vehicles on the ubiquitous Keke NAPEP and Okada operators, that are totally ingnorant of traffic rules.
The Enugu Art Works date back to around 1986, during the regime of Group Captain Emeka Omeruah as military Governor of old Anambra State, when he commissioned a number of art works to beautify the Coal City. With the passage of time, many of these art works either became old-fashioned or worn out as a result of intense weather. Some of them were even totally knocked down by some dangerous drivers.
Then, came the administration of Governor Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi who saw it fit to rejuvenate, remodel, or recreate the art works, and to mount them at strategic locations in the Coal City. It is claimed that Governor Ugwuanyi had commissioned the Institute of Management and Technology (IMT), Enugu, to remodel these art works and create new ones, which is a very good way of supporting the institution, and of encouraging indigenous creative works.
In some advanced societies, these beautiful art works in and around the Enugu Coal City are capable of attracting tourists’ attention and thus yielding the much needed revenue to government. But this has to be complemented with good roadworks and orderly traffic movements on the roads.