ULI IN MGBOKO-ODOBO FESTIVAL
The aim of any visual communication design is to satisfy the aesthetic and sensational view of the public. As such the study highlights only on the Uli design in Mgboko Odobo Festival, with Aku Community as a case study. We also examines the application of Aku Uli motifs in the production of sketches and painting for promoting aesthetics, communication practices and practices and cross cultural integration. The research also focuses on the needs for the education of members of the public to accept and continue the practice of uli decoration. This is because it creates room for community consciousness and togetherness. The research also emphasizes on the need to document as a matter of urgency the uli art as a tradition of the Aku people and the wider-world so that it will not be lost due to lack of continuity.
1.1 BACKGROUND OF THE STUDY
Uli has continued to influence artistic output of Igbo society and many contemporary Nigerian artist in general. The designs which have been made deliberately by most Igbo communities have communication meanings and functions such meanings and functions may vary from one community to another among whom the aesthetic values of uli designs are used. In this context, Aku community in Igbo-Etiti Local Government Area of Enugu State Nigeria is no exception. This research is only concerned with the uli in Mgboko Odobo Festival in Aku Community in Igbo-Etiti Local Govt. Area of Enugu State.
The are diverse views on the term “aesthetic values” According fleck (1974:345), it is a subtle chain that binds together all facts living to create order, beauty, inspiration, satisfaction and renewal. Socrates (469-322BC) is among the pioneers who first defined aesthetics. According to them, it has to do with “beauty” and “valuers”. Beauty is differentiated from infatuation and from concept that identifies and suggests the realm of eternal valuers as held by plate Socrates’ idea was that what is useful and efficient is aesthetic. One could support the ideas of the above scholars about aesthetics since they all boiled down to the believe that what is beautiful, valuable and satisfactory is aesthetic.
The concept of uli design is equally an expression of visual communication among the Igbo Societies. Scholars such as Uche Okeke, C. Aniakor have through their works, brought to time light world wide uli art as a means of traditional visual communication. Uka (2002) also describes uli as a medium which is characterized by unlimited use of lines of different wave length to represent concepts and ideas. It is an art from which expresses the culture of people in Igbo community. Uli motifs represent things of physical importance, aesthetic appeal and relevance to traditional beliefs. In this case Uli design as a visual communication is said to be the symbols, representing what is important among Aku people in particular and Igbo Land general. The use of Uli as a means of visual communication in Aku community is as old as Aku itself. This is mainly done for body adornment, wall decoration and on Odo masquerading etc. Within this community, these motifs have been given meanings by our forefathers, among which is the aesthetic value of the designs to the community. However, it is necessary to review this practice since it has taken a back sent in the mind of several adults in Aku community and Igbo Land in general. The young girls whose bodies were usually well decorated with Uli designs during special ceremonies in the olden days are no longer interested in such tradition this is as a result of civilization resulting from colonial and missionary activities. The need to research into Uli designs for a strong awareness and also to document the art and expose its aesthetic values through the use of poster and other visual communication media practices cannot be over emphasized.
Brief historical background of Aku Community Aku town is the largest community in Igbo-Etiti Local Government Area. It is bound on the East by Ukehe, Ikolo and Affa, on the west by Obimo, Nkpologwu and Adada River, on the North by Leja and Ozalla and on the south by Akpugo, Udueme and Adada River. The full name of the town is Aku Diewa Mgboko Odobo. This essay is based on a critical analysis of the existing write-ups and update of Aku history. Uli in visual communication design practices. Despite the emphasis on functions, the traditional uli painters did not neglect the aesthetics communication aspect from time immemorial. Uli generally is associated with Igbo Land. It is mainly done by women either on a wall, human body, also on utilitarian and ceremonial objects such as musical equipments, Ozo title staff and the “Oku” – Native plates, by men on a masquerade plaque heads, on Aku traditional war armaments such as spares, arrows and shields.
Traditionally, uli murals are done on mud walls with earth colors such as yellow, black and blue. Ikwuemesi (2003), noted that uli symbology is part and parcel of the traditional Igbo creative endowment. He further stated that it consists of painting and decorative art which involves the use of abstract, semi-abstract and geometric motifs. Apart from mural and body adornment, Uli designs could be employed on sculptural works as discovered in the igbo ukwu excavation in the 9th century, traditional Igbo weavers also employ uli motifs in their designs like the Akwete women weavers. All these uli designers have helped to enhance aesthetic visual communication among the Igbo society and the wider world.
The practice of uli art in Aku
The earliest traditional art of aku consisted mainly of door carvings and pot making for utilitarian purposes. Others were body decorations. Ozo title holding and Odo masquerading prior to the coming of the white men, there were specialists who took care of the functions. By that time virtually all house were built of mud with wood panel doors for aesthetics. Two craftmen easily come to mind; namely lyelede Nwozo and Ochu Nwugwu who enjoyed good patronage by receiving payment for their works. Uli which is the main medium of expression in the area of house decoration, body adornment, Ozo title holding and Odo masquerading is used in various ways to enhance communication and also exhibit aspects of the community cultural aesthetics. Design motifs are unlimited to the women artists in the society except in the area of Odo masquerading. No matter the extent of erosion by western civilization on uli arts and craftsmanship in Aku, the artists have come to stay. Some have gone into extinction while the existing ones are making effort to keep the culture alive.
1.2 STATEMENT OF THE STUDY
The problem still remains that the young girls on whose body such design are made are no longer interested in the culture. This could be as a result of civilization. The young girls shy away from the practice not only because their bodies are exposed to the public but, also because the designs remain indelible on their body for a long time. However, there is the need for enlightening the young girls on whose body such designs are made to accept and continue to preserve the culture. There is also the need to document the uli as a cultural heritage to the Aku community because there is none of such documentation.
These are various limitations encountered in the course of this study. Such are financial constraints, inability to lay hands on some written documents on Aku uli designs. The death of some uli design pioneers who could have provided first hand information was also a great limitations. Despite all these constraints above the researchers were able to gather some basic information that made the research a success.
1.3 OBJECTIVES OFTHE STUDY
The study aims to create awareness for the community for special documentation of their historical culture. It also aims at using paintings and other visual communication practices in the promotion of Aku uli designs to the wider world.
Finally, it is expected to open up new exploration ways for furtherance of uli designs as a means of aesthetic visual communication.
1.4 SIGNIFICANCE OF THE STUDY
This research is of great importance because, it intends to create awareness among Aku community on the importance and values of uli art as an aspect of their culture. It will help in the revival, documentation and preservation of their cultural heritage. It will also enhance the communities traditional visual communication system among themselves and the wider world towards achieving their set of goals. It will also serve as a reference material for artists, researchers, educationists, the private and public sectors.
1.5 SCOPE/DELIMITATION OF STUDY
The research work covers only the aesthetics of uli designs in Aku community. goals.