17 April 2019

Nigeria: Shining Stars Student's Sewing Car Wins Toyota Arts Contest

Abuja — Imagine a car sewing clothes on the move while the dressmaker concentrates on the wheel and then alights at the next destination to deliver the finished work. You will call it incredible or too futuristic; anyway, not with the Basic 7 student of Shining Stars College, Abuja, Moyosore Oluwa Tunji-Akeju.

Tunji-Akeju's design recently won the overall best for the National Category 8-11 years yearly Toyota Dream Car Contest in Lagos. For her, the future is already with us.

The dream car, which she named Toyota-Sew-On-The-Go, is still an artwork conceptualised as a car in the shape of a sewing machine; with buttons for tyres, scissors for windows and measuring tape for windshield and others.

Challenged by the competition's demand for entries to satisfy or solve economic needs, Moyo, as she is fondly called, found inspiration in her passion to make a coat for a man she saw tying a piece of cloth.

"Along the road one day, I looked out of the car window and saw a man tying a piece of cloth while walking, and I felt the urge to sew a coat for him. I didn't want to be late to where I was going, so I felt I should have a kind of sewing-car, which I could drive and sew clothes at the same time. That was how it got its name, Toyota-Sew-On-The-Go," she said.

For the car and the dressmaker to achieve that end, each design and the measurement, just like the everyday fashion work, will have to be programmed into the car, and "if my design becomes reality, it will reduce poverty in the country. It is environment-friendly because it runs on solar power. I want it to become reality as soon as possible because the earlier, the better."

How soon this dream or idea becomes reality will depend on some complex factors. First, the competition sponsors, Toyota, will need to study the ideas, then go through what the organisation calls, 'The Toyota Way'," she said.

"You have to be sure it can work, and there has to be a lot of research on that idea before it can come into reality. They are not something you can just pick up and turn into reality, because it involves time, money and research, among a lot of other things involved in bringing them into reality."

Moyo, on her own, has developed a liking for sewing and actually tries her hand on it at home. Like many creative minds, the happy mother, Mrs. Olaide Tunji-Akeju, said the girl had been exhibiting flashes of her talent even as a toddler, when she would come up with some fascinating drawings.

"It is a thing of joy. I thank God for locating us and singling her out as winner of the category. She has been displaying her creativity right from the lower classes and we noticed that talent in her drawings even as a toddler. We are ready to support her 100 per cent to the highest heights she would want to go to."

Interestingly, Moyo winning awards in creative art in Shining Stars College is like a willing horse coming in contact with a willing jockey. The school has become a name for awards in creativity even at the global level, just as in its kitty are various laurels from competitions from the council, state to national competitions.

According to the Director of Administration, Shining Stars Group of Schools, Miss Ofe Imomoh, "we are very passionate about art. We've won several awards and competitions, even globally, because of the efforts we put into creativity. It's not only about core academics; we feel it is also good to explore the children's creativity.

"We won the global Kanagawa World Art Competition in 2017, which qualified our student-winner as part of the discussion panel with the Senate President, because he wanted students who had won world competitions to participate in that panel.

"In 2013, we came third (in the Toyota competition) in Nigeria and are very happy coming first this time. Basically, we invite entries from students with interest in art and drawing, which seem to be quite prominent in our school because we have a lot of children who have even won global competitions.

"Moyo has a very good creative vision which she is already portraying. The whole idea is that you have to design a creative car that can solve an economic problem in Nigeria. Moyo and others participated in the competition in a school in Abuja, which featured over 100 participants. There was a team of judges that assessed the designs and picked their best three. There in the FCT she came third, but shockingly, she came first at the national level."

At the root, and in the heart of these accomplishments, is the school's conducive system for nurturing and honing talents towards focused accomplishments, including an art club, "where they discuss new ways of improving in modern art, guided by their (Fine Art) teacher.

"We mark every May 27 (Children's Day) as club day, when all the clubs in the school showcase what they have been doing, and also sell their artworks, which the school buys from. Such works are then framed in different corners of the school."

And as a co-curricular institution, the Executive Vice Chairman, Mrs. Victoria Imomoh, will remain grateful to God and the supportive parents that the school has maintained its focus on the ethics of discipline, hard work and good morals for both teachers and pupils.

According to her, "the learning materials and equipment are there, and the school is good for learning. We not only cover the syllabus but also ensure that the students understand what they are being taught, as the only way that learning could be rightly said to have taken place.

"As a co-curricular school that emphasises creativity, apart from academic qualifications, our teachers are specialists in the areas they choose to teach, just as we enroll some and help them to improve their academic levels, as well as teaching skills."

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