The consecration of Tony Akudinobi’s designs, By Uzor Maxim Uzoatu

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It is consecration time. The manifold designs of Tony George Chidi Akudinobi is always capped with deep words that somewhat consecrate the works. It is akin to verbalizing magic in the manner that George Thomson writes in his 1946 classic Marxism an Poetry: “from the beginning there was an integral connection between hand and brain.”

The splendid thoughts of Akudinobi are put out in words to lend meaning to the utilitarian art he delivers through landmark furniture, fittings, household goods, effects, sundry designs and the like. The metaphysical mix of the verbal and the product can indeed be spellbinding.

It makes one recall what goes on at the altar during consecration. The sublimity is quite sacred, hallowed. The context determines the design. The priest figure turning the blood of Christ into wine at the point of consecration is the apt depiction of the process.

Tony Akudinobi shines forth in the grand light of the objects of his aesthetic renditions. In the traditional sense, Agwu seizes the ambience. As Chinua Achebe puts it in Anthills of the Savannah, “Agwu does not call a meeting to choose his seers and diviners and artists; Agwu, the god of healers; Agwu, brother to Madness! But though born from the same womb he and Madness were not created by the same chi. Agwu is the right hand a man extends to his fellows; Madness, the forbidden hand. Madness unleashes and rides his man roughly into the wild savannah. Agwu possesses his own just as securely but has him corralled to serve the compound. Agwu picks his disciple, rings his eye with white chalk and dips his tongue, willing or not, in the brew of prophecy; and right away the man will speak and put head and tail back to the severed trunk of our tale. This miracle-man will amaze us because he may be a fellow of little account, not the bold warrior we all expect nor even the war-drummer.”  

Tony Akudinobi had a grand outing as Nigeria’s representative at the First Intra-African Trade Fair in Cairo, Egypt, organized by Afrexim Bank, in December 2018. Akudinobi set up The Hammerhead Ethnika Exhibition entitled “The Phoenix and The Sphinx”, under the sponsorship of the Nigerian Export Promotions Council which wowed dignitaries such as former Nigerian President, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo.  

Like the phoenix rising from the ashes of death to shine with new life, Akudinobi intervolves diverse entities in the mold of the legendary Sphinx. The bends of time and the scrolls of being are ready grist to the mill of Akudinobi’s conversation with woods and the wilds. The context may differ in multiform formulations but the content remains the same. Undaunted in the face of ill-assorted societal challenges, Akudinobi is poised to go the distance in the manner of Allan Sillitoe’s “the loneliness of the long distance runner.” 

He readily plucks the leaves and seeds of the cultural irokos in the manner that portrays him as one tree that can make a forest. The flora and fauna grown in the forests of past lifestyles are reprised in tune with the African worldview of the living, the dead and the unborn.

It is through fusion and rebirth that he plants and ploughs the fields to plenitude.

Akudinobi is as relentless as they come, reawakening the undying and deathless Phoenix in a fertile continuum that spells the crystal of creativity. For him, inspiration simply translates to spirit in action.

It takes the deepest spiritual calling to capture the heights and glow of the Sphinx in darkness, as Akudinobi undertakes his unalterable calling. He crosses ages and geographies by birthing multiple presences through what he depicts as “rivers of Colonization and Civilization.”

The writer Obi Egbuna once wondered “If rivers could talk…” The rivers are given voices of thunder and the laughter of lightning in the renditions of Tony Akudinobi. It is only through these accounts that his much-beloved Mother Africa can come to the path of a fuller canvas of light.

The dialogue is never ending, and continues unabated even as time bends. You can always find Akudinobi on sable wings perched on the Eagle’s back while building nests of wonder on the Irokos.

The linkage is the connecting rod of the past, the present and the future in the twice-told fair of the dead, the living and the unborn, thriving on the contemporary African Highway. The indestructible always resurrects. From the Phoenix to the Sphinx, the essence of being is staying power. Akudinobi as ever refuses to yield ground, determined in his pursuit of putting light aloft on the landscape and dreamscape of Africa.

Powers and personages pay lasting homage to the inspired industry of Akudinobi but there is no resting on oars. The mightiness of the encouragement is only matched with the greatest grind of further invention. It is akin to Akudinobi paying into one bank account until the bank honchos beg him to open another account because the first account is full!

The lines of a focused destiny meet on the pathway of work, forging an alliance of legend. There are no ends that cannot be reached through the realms of inspiration manifesting in the objects of Ethnika.

In the end, love binds all. It is through the waves of love in the offerings of Akudinobi that meaning is made. We bear witness to the spark of timely splashes of love turning into a blaze. The love shines to awaken more creation in the march through the bends of time toward the hatching of the Eagle’s Egg.

Akudinobi is indeed deep as he keeps the company of the deepest, especially when one casts the mind back to the event sponsored by Globacom Unlimited at Eko Hotel & Suites billed as “An Evening with Wole and Nigeria’s Outstanding Literary Writers” where Akudinobi stepped forward to present an avant-garde chair to the very grateful Nobel Laureate Wole , and then went ahead to read the poem “Dis Chair” as an accompaniment to the presentation.

Akudinobi has a formidable team backing his African Design Roundtable, notably Prof. E. B. Allagoa (Chairman), Prof Frank Ugiomoh, Prof Alabo, Dere-faka, Chike Amene, Jackie K’obani, Perrin Oglafa, and IB. Erekosima.

His company, Hammerhead Integrated Ltd., based in Aba, Abia State has grown into a 10,000 sq. ft. of floor space, engaging very dynamic and resourceful partnership of gifted and skilled craftsmen under concentrated supervision in the creation of sublime designs.

The recently deceased grandpa of poetry, Gabriel Okara, was an ever-present legend of support for Akudinobi.

The consecration of Akudinobi’s designs is a noble idea that is lofted to travel.

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