One of Nigeria’s top artists, Nsikak Essien, is dead.
Obviously in his 60s and a founding member of the famous AKA Circle of Exhibiting Artists which included other stalwarts such as El Anatsui, Bona Ezeudu, Obiora Anidi and the late great Okpu Eze among others, we learnt that he studied art at the Insititute of Management and Technology Enugu, graduating with Distinction in Painting as Best Overall Graduate and winner of the Fasuyi Best National Art Graduate in Painting in 1979.
The news of his demise was broken by his namesake and former editor of Concord newspaper, Nsikak Essien.
Below is what he wrote on his Facebook page:
Similarity in names,
Chief Gani Fawehinmi and I
The Late Chief was my friend. The high point came when Concord newspapers were shut down by IBB. I was the Editor of National Concord newspaper then and my publication triggered the shutdown.
I got in touch with the Chief who immediately offered me his computers and office to continue to produce National Concord newspaper. He argued legally that the newspapers were not proscribed but the premises were just shut down.
We produced the newspapers from my house until a few days later when a proscription decree came out.
Gani was a very courageous man. Some years later he was detained by the military. As part of the release protocol he and his detention colleagues, including Chief Femi Falana were taken into Aso Rock. He saw an artwork by an Nsikak Essien, being one of the artworks used to decorate the seat of power.
When Gani was released and on his return to Lagos, he got in touch with me to express his displeasure that I was wining and dining with dictators to the point of donating my artwork to Aso Rock.
Luckily I was able to calm down the Chief and explained that the artist Nsikak Essien was different from me. What a coincidence or similarity in names!
Artist Nsikak Essien was studying at IMT in Enugu at about the same time I was studying at the University of Nigeria, Nsukka. He is one of the best fine artists in the country.
As Editor some people mistook me for him and vice versa. A few even visited me in Concord newspapers office in Ikeja, expecting to see him. Just about six months ago someone phoned to inquire if I were the fine artist.
Sadly both of us had never met but we spoke on telephone about twice.
The sad story is that he passed on some hours ago. As usual some friends think I am the one. I mourn the loss of my namesake. May his maker take back his soul.
I am alive and well. My maker has not called me home yet.
Rest in peace my namesake. Amen.