PORTRAIT OF A TOWN BEYOND THE ROCK

A new coffee book by Hakeem Adenekan captures landmarks in Abeokuta, AKEEM LASISI writes

A few years ago, communication executive and art patron, Hakeem Adenekan, saw a tea table book on America in an hotel in Washington, US. On reading through it, he saw fascinating places and other iconic elements about the country. Something stirred in his consciousness and it occurred to him that he could publish a similar book on his home town, Abeokuta, Ogun State.

Today Adenekan has realised that dream. Last Thursday, he radiated fulfilment as he flaunted the impressively finished publication in his Surulere office – which he was too glad to compare to the American work that inspired it. Apart from its beautiful features, the book titled Abeokuta Beyond the Rock is three times bigger than the Washington publication.

Apart from the monuments that it documents, the book is very ambitious in capturing episodes of the historical, geographical and socio-cultural development of the town said to have been found in 1830, all in glossy pictures. According to Adenekan, the project has given him an opportunity to better appreciate the richness of the town’s heritage.

“Our goal is not to serve any sectarian or political interest,” he says. “Abeokuta is a town of many firsts. This is where you will find the first hospital in Nigeria, the first psychiatric hospital, the first church, the town to first have anthem and where the first newspaper, Iwe Irohin, was first published. These are some of the icons well captured in the publication. And it is good we embarked on the project early enough.

“The various construction projects being carried out by the present administration has meant that some of the historical places have to be pulled down or relocated. But we already have most of them immortalised in the book. And another very important segment is the one where we exhibit images of many illustrious sons and daughter of the land.”

One of the photos

On the platform of his Evagrin Concept, he had earlier developed some culturally-branded art works. Also he has researched and produced audios and videos of children rhymes in Yoruba, some of which were shot by celebrated film maker, Tunde Kelani. The book latest was thus not going to be a strange adventure for him.

But the publication of Abeokuta Beyond the Rock was far from being a tea party. Because it was going to be a book of images, he had to work with experts that included professional photographers.

Adenekan Denekan notes, “The making of the book, I would say, was bitter-sweet. When you consider the kind of support required for a project of this magnitude, if such support failed to manifest at the time needed, then you would know that the road to the eventual success must have been bitter-sweet. There are some people you would introduce the project to, and they would say, ‘Oh, I love this. Let’s talk about it.’ But two days later, you discover that you are on your own.”

Yet, he acknowledges the support of the Alake of Egbaland, Oba Gbadebo DosumuFatgems Oil, while he says discussion is ongoing with some other private organisations.

Among other challenges, some people did not want he and his team to shoot certain objects of relevance, largely out of their ignorance of the essence of the book.

Adenekan adds, “The job was definitely not a walk in the park. There were times we feared we could be mobbed while taking photos. But the passion for the work kept us going.”

Although the book was published by Kachifo Ltd, it was printed abroad, with Adenekan saying the project has gulped up to N5m.

The book is expected to be presented in Abeokuta this December.

Copyright PUNCH.

One comment on “PORTRAIT OF A TOWN BEYOND THE ROCK

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