|Chief Aina Onabolu|
Chief Aina Onabolu was the first Nigerian artist and he had no formal training in art at the beginning of his career. He was born in Ijebu-Ode in 1882. He started painting at the early age of 12, inspired by the cheap re-produced illustrations of Western arts which were prominent in many Nigerian magazines and religious books. By the age of 32, he was able to exhibit his own works and was quite popular as a knowledgeable and skilled artist. He later travelled abroad to study art at Académie Julian in Paris and at a school in London; before his sojourn abroad, he was already a competent and self-taught draftsman. He completed his studies with a diploma in fine arts and a teacher's certificate from St. John Woods College, London in 1922.
In 1909, when the colonial government in Nigeria took control of formal education, the curriculum in the schools was geared towards the provision of suitable education to train clerk position clerks for the colonial Administration government administration. Little was thought of arts education in secondary education until a report recommended the teaching of native indigenous hand craft. Prior to the report, Onabolu had formally presented requests for the introduction of modern arts education in secondary schools but his option was rejected by the colonial education officers During the time, there were implicit suggestions by the colonial officers that the natural limits of Africans was in pottery and craft.
Onabolu's return from St John Woods, London, in 1922 and Julians academy in paris and his acquired knowledge of the European technique of painting, anatomy and the characteristics of European art education coincided with a new perspective on introducing indigenous art education in the country. Onabolu, who had taught informally to enthusiastic students began teaching in a few top schools in Lagos such as King's College, Lagos and CMS Grammar School, Lagos.
Onabolu also encouraged the adoption of European teachers in art instruction in the country. His effort led to the hiring of a foreign art teacher named Kenneth Murray. Murray led a gradual re-awakening of traditional handicraft and arts. Odiboh etal (1990) The new approach of promoting indigenous African arts and staying within the native repository of knowledge in traditional African arts was introduced into the curriculum of various secondary schools in the country. The efforts of the new instructor yielded early dividends, as the number of Nigerian art instructors increased and knowledge of traditional works such as the Uli body and wall became more pronounced. However, Murray's effort meant little in the long run as the country was in the midst of a colonial and Western government which introduced its own way or life, leading to a gradual shift in the society from traditional to a Western culture.