I am the future of Nigerian art, says Jerry Dandy Angelo, 26-year- old sickle cell patient
Written by MCPHILIPS NWACHUKWU
Sunday, 15 June 2008
When early in the week I got an e-mail with the above subject: 'Am the Future of Nigerian Art,’ I will like you to know that I'm a Nigerian like yourself, my dear brother. I would like to discuss an important issue: Sickle Cell and Art’, I immediately became startled. I became startled because I know the pains of sickness, having mercifully survived a life-threatening renal complication and having also lost a nephew in the unmerciful hands of sickle cell. I first called the sender, who came to be known as Jerry, on phone. His voice wasn’t very friendly and I wanted to drop the idea again. But something in me was pushful saying to me: you might be saving a life; you might through this effort, be giving hope to the hopeless just as you were helped some three years back by so many benefactors ;and above all, you would be doing a great service to the soul of your nephew, who now rests in the bosom of the Lord.
Based on these reasons, I decided to do an e-mail interview with Jerry, the young man, who is called Angelo (the great artist) by his friends. From the tone of this e-conversation, he is both articulate and strong. He wants to live and contribute his quota to humanity. He wants to live a healthy life and above all, wants the government to help him beat the Guinness Book of Records by painting the most expensive painting. Jerry Dandy Angelo’s tale is a tale of hope, a tale of support, a tale of conviction that there is hope in every hopeless situation. While you read and enjoy this piece, don’t fail to say words of prayer to all the afflicted. Excerpts:
One of Jerry Dandy Angelo's worksWHAT is your name and where do you hail from ?My names are Jerry Toboray Edorhe. I hail from Unhonmora-ora, Owan West LGA of Edo State.How did you come across my e-mail?I came across your e-mail address while going through your article on arts in the Vanguard one fateful Sunday after service.And you didn’t suspect I would treat your mail like one of those yahoo, yahoo things?
I am not a fraudster, so I knew you would not treat my mail like “one of those scam mails.”You have such a great name. Angelo was a great artist. Tell me about your name?My friends and family call me Jerry, while Dandy Angelo is the name God gave to me when He was depositing the talent of an artist inside me. Angelo was a famous artist of a past time or generation, while the Angelo that I am is the one of this present generation and time. The name was re-born when I discovered my potential and gift in the arts.
You said you are a sickle cell patient?That is how it seems when your geno-type is “SS”.How old are you ?I'm twenty-six years old.Can you remember precisely when you came to full knowledge and weight of sickle cell?
When I was about fifteen year’s old.What was your reaction?Angry at first, wondering why me. But with time, the Lord made me to understand that you cannot create yourself and how you are born into this world is not something you can negotiate.
Does the ailment in any way deter you from pursuing any of your career interests?Only in sports, soccer to be precise.May be you should lead us into the psychological climate of sickle cell patients?All I can say for now is that it is a thing that is quite amazing; but not a thing of joy when in “crisis.”What is the place of art in your life?Some things in life are what the Lord uses to strengthen the faith of man. So, I am not frustrated and I will never be. And as for my interest in other existential callings, I do my best according to how the Lord strengthens me.How did you come into art?
Art flows in my veins, I breathe art. My heart definitely breathes art. I got into art as a young boy or child. Back then, I used to steal chalk from my class teacher so that when I got home, I could use it to draw on the wall and on my slate.So you didn’t train as an artist?No, it's just a talent and gift that God created me with.
Would you have become an artist if you were healthier?Only God can tell. I don’t know.What is the therapeutic effect of art in management of your ailment?It has a supernatural relaxing effect. And can also be used as a point of concentration or medium to avoid stress.
To what extent have you used art in projecting this campaign?I am still working on that. I want something big and well organised.Are you affiliated to any NGO? No, I am not affiliated to any “NGO.”What are the responses like?
Nothing for now, but I am praying and hoping that once Nigerians start reading about me, I will begin to get responses from Nigerian government, individuals and corporate establishments.You titled your mail, 'I am the Future of Nigerian art’ what do you mean by that ?My own knowledge and idea of the art is not for myself alone. So, I intend to break those boundaries that are stopping Nigerian art from excelling and set a foundation for the younger generation of artists. What I do now with my art, will go a long way to determine the future of Nigerian art.
Would you say that your art is shaped by any particular ideological conviction? Yes, because my belief and my knowledge influence my art a lot. Any other thing you would want to tell Nigerians about the challenges of sickle cell sickness?
There is a drop of greatness in every one. I will also like to use this opportunity to ask the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua to support me in achieving the dream of creating a new Guinness record by painting the great work which I have titled Pinkstone-Ebenezer, the most expensive painting in Nigeria.Thank you Jerry and May God continue to spare you.Thank you Sir.