ART AND REVIEW
Sculptor Ikenegbu bows out of IMT in style
I CAME, i taught,i served and i retired”. These were the words of the great sculptor, Dr. Okay Ikenegbu, on a commemorative ceremony of his due retirement after 36years of active and estimable service.
The event, which was held at International Conference Center, IMT, Enugu, had many dignitaries from all works of life, especially academician, friends, families, relations and well wishers.
Some of the dignitaries are, Rector of IMT, Prof Austin U. Nweze, Chairman, IMT, Governing Council, Dr. Mrs Ifeoma Nwobodo, represented by Dr. Innocent Eze, the institution’s librarians, Deputy Rector Dr. Emeka Patrick, Rev Fr. Dr. IkechukwuAni, Chief, Dr Ferdinand Ikeanikwe, Igwe and Lolo Tim bugu, Mr Fabian Ọkpara and many notable people.
In the chairman’s opening remarks, the rector of IMT, Professor Nweze, appreciated DrIkenegbu for his service and gift to the institution, saying it is a “very special occasion because one of us is retiring today and to mark that retirement, he decided to give back to IMT part of what IMT gave to him”.
He said that IMT gave him the platform and he is giving back to the institution one of his prized arts which he knows cost him a lot.
Prof Nweke recalled that on the day he was appointed as the rector on June 10, 2016, two highly placed men in the state came to his house pleading he make Dr Okay Ikenegbu the deputy rector, saying alot of good things about him but because of the zoning in the school; because the institution was state owned, he would have been the deputy rector. “Even in the interview, it was clear he was the best…”
He further praised him, calling him a “gentleman, a very intelligent man with a nice handwriting better than typed work; someone I cherish so much”.
The rector recalled when the governor of Enugu State, called them to beautify Enugu State and the first assignment was ‘Unity Park’, “DrIkenegbu suggested the construction of gigantic lion which can sit 50 people and air-conditioned; which was later a wonderful work.
He further revealed that he will be returned as the director of the school and also endow to students from ND and HND as the best graduating student with a cheque, which he won’t state, which is part of the reason the governing council of the school gave him a two-year contract service in the institution.
His present to the institution a “giant iron guitar with a hand playing” named ‘Awake and Sing’ a footprint he is leaving behind; a legacy which he will ever be remembered for.
In the presentation of citation on Sculptor Dr. Okay Ikenegbu during inauguration of the endowment: Okay Ikenegbu Prize for Sculpture/Unveiling His Donation of a Monumental Steel Sculpture ‘Awake and Sing” by Dr. Fidelis Udenta, he gave detailed account of Dr. Okay.
He eulogised the sculptor, saying he is “charismatic and has pleasant personality… quite transparent, accountable and sincere in all things”.
He revealed his many achievements which included: over 100 exhibitions, including four solos and one joint to his credit. Formal commission of over 100 sculptures, some of which adorn major public spaces in Enugu, Anambra State.
“The Monumental Eagle(metal), welcoming visitors to Enugu at AkanuIbiam Airport. One of his professional milestones was designing and building of Unity Park, Enugu; a conservation park of 90, 044.56 square meters.
The striking features in the park include a pond with favourable hydrodynamic environment for boat riding; and the monumental ‘Roaring Lion’ sculpture (concrete);a pioneering instance of constructivist design (both symbolic and utilitarian).
Dr Fidelis further revealed that Dr. Okay has participated in over “80 conferences , seminars, workshops and public lectures-including eight international workshops….
Dr Ikenegbu, according to the citation, has been recognised and honoured for his excellent spirit of service by many organisations which include the prestigious community service award by the Rotary Club of New Haven, Enugu, in 2007: Most Dedicated Director of School by Humanitarian Service Clubs of IMT Enugu-2002; Rotaract Club of IMT Enugu, 2008, among others…..
In DrOkay’s “Valediction” themed “Retirement: End is Beginning” he revealed that his is passionate for teaching which is sole reason for the gathering.
He said: “Teaching is an art, a science and a calling” which is why he titled his speech ‘End is the Begining’.
Dr Okay said he envisions “the management initiate and ensure programmes that aim to expand fundamental knowledge that refine professional, scientific and technical skills capable of developing ultimately, the student who will be equipped for a successful career in a vast range of professional occupations”
The sculptor remembered and thanked all those who helped him achieve what his is today- the pioneer rector of the institute – Prof. Mark O. Chijioke, in 1979, down to the current rector. While confidently saying that for “over three decades, his background has provided valuable opportunities and insights into administration of public institutions, positioning me for sound decision making concerning issues of higher education – teaching and learning experiences”.
Dr Okay also charged his colleagues to uphold integrity and uprightness, reminding them that their characters determine what is said about them which plays a crucial role in fulfilling God’s purpose in their lives. He quoted Robert H. Schuller: “Great people are ordinary people with extraordinary amounts of determination”.
On the gifts to the institution, he stated: “Education is for improving the lives of others and for leaving your community and world better than you found it. Hence, my donation of this monumental steel sculpture, “Awake and Sing” is to serve as a memorial for the lofty Ideas of the institute in the tandem with its motto – ‘Skill and Service…”
He further revealed he will be giving an endowment ofan academic prize: Okay Ikenegbu Prize for Sculpture for the best graduating student in Higher National Diploma (special option of Sculpture) with the sum of N25,000and shall run into perpetuity; which is to motivate high students’ performance in special area of Sculpture.
He also encouraged his students with the words of Ralph Waldo Emerson, “Do not follow where the path may lead. Go instead where there is no path and leave a trail.”
Dr. Okay Ikenegbu, a Chief Lecturer at Institute of Management and Technology(IMT Enugu), with Ph.D Art History 2015, is the longest serving Chief Lecturer in the institution and the first youngest in 1998, at the age of 40years. He was born on March 12, 1958, and retried on March 16th 2023. He hails from Agbadala-Achi Oji River, Enugu State. Married with five children (two sons and three daughters) and seven grandchildren.