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Ben Enwonwu Posing beside Anyanwu at the National Museum, Lagos

Ben Enwonwu

Yemisi Shyllon Museum of Art, Pan-Atlantic University

Yemisi Shyllon Museum of Art, Pan-Atlantic University
Lagos, Nigeria

The first edition of Anyanwu was done in 1954-55 as a life-size commission for the Nigerian government to mark the opening of the National Museum in Lagos by British artist Kenneth Murray, who was Ben Enwonwu’s teacher. It was conceptualized as a female form by Enwonwu to represent a mother who births and nurtures her child, in this case Nigeria whose independence was in sight at the time. Enwonwu said “My aim was to symbolise our rising nation. I have tried to combine material, crafts, and tradition, to express a conception that is based on womanhood—woman, the mother and nourisher of man. In our rising nation, I see the forces embodied in womanhood; the beginning, and then, the development and flowering into the fullest stature of a nation—a people!” – Ben Enwonwu. The sculpture still sits at the lawn of the museum till date.

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