29 December 2012

Nigeria: My Secret Life - Kaltume Gana, Artist, 44

My parents are...my mum is a homemaker, housewife and a disciplinarian. There was a lot of love and at the same time a lot of firmness. As the eldest daughter, I wasn't taken lightly by my parents. I had to adhere strictly to all duties given to me, because I have other siblings to watch-over.

The household I grew up in... my dad was a banker, so we did a lot travelling. We moved along together and I think that created the kind of bond we had. It gave us an avenue to interact with other cultures and understand different people.

When I was a child I wanted to... I've always wanted to become an artist. I was good with my hands. My mum taught me how to play the shantu instrument very early. It was a creative time growing up. There were a lot of things I did with my hands - I did crochet, knitting and many things - so I always felt that could lead me to a career.

One statement I will never forget... my school career counselor said it will be a shame if I don't become a professional artist.

If I could change one thing about myself... It would be my inability to keep in touch with my friends and loved ones these days and to be honest, I'm not proud of that.

You can call it my strength... I see good in a lot of things; I take time to analyse things without being rigid to a particular thing.

I wouldn't call it a challenge... hurdles in life are like a challenge; if you look at them and call them regrets, it's like saying you don't appreciate the lessons they bring.

You may need to know... I am on the quiet side and I'm observant. I like to study a situation before giving my verdict.

Looking at the mirror... I see someone who has achieved some of her set goals. I see someone who wants to impact positively on the society; especially the female folks.

Looking back to yesterday... my fine arts prize from Queens College Lagos is my most cherished prize.

I'm not a big reader... however, I enjoy seeing the book I read dramatised like in "Things Fall Apart".

I see movies a lot ... I like movies of real life stories; movies with historical values like 'Cleopatra'. On a lighter note, I like Nigerian movies that remind us of our rich cultural heritage.

As an artist... seeing our various diversities spurs my inspiration. Like one of my paintings - The Water Fetchers - has its inspiration drawn from the rural women who go to the stream to fetch water.

In five years time... to see that my work impacts positively on the people both locally and internationally. Being a good ambassador of whom I am and my country.

My future plan for women... I think women are very strong and they need role models along the way. So, whatever little I can impact on them from my work to enable them achieve their professional dreams and keep their home I will offer.

My life in eight words... humble, content, hopeful, generous daughter, mother and friend.


Kaltume Bulama Gana is the younger sister of Nigeria Ambassador to Malawi, Amb. Mohammed Lawan Gana. She had her primary, secondary and tertiary education in Nigeria.

She did extensive studies in Islamic Arts at Mimar Sisan University, Istanbul, Turkey. One of her notable works is the painting of 'Queen Amina' for Zumunta Association Washington DC, USA. She was married and the marriage was blessed with a child.

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