Sunday, October 10, 2010

Interview with Karamo, The Art Semester




Banjul, The Gambia (TNBES) The North Bank Evening Standard interviews Mr. Karamo Sama, a renowned Gambian Artist, who is the Proprietor of Karamo Arts and Arts Semester. In this interview, he talks about his life in
the world of arts and his social background. Read on….

TNBES: Can you tell our readers who you are and a brief account of your life as an artist?

Karamo: My name is Karamo Sama; I was born in Misirah, Upper River Region and brought up in Bansang. I did my Primary and Junior Secondary School in Bansang. After completing my education, I joined the
medical fraternity, working as a medical practitioner at the Bansang Hospital
from 1980 to1984.

In 1984 I left the Bansang hospital and traveled to Nigeria, Ivory Coast, Brussels, and Spain respectively, teaching and practicing Arts. In Nigeria I open an Arts Workshop where I taught many Nigerians on art work.

However, training Nigerian youths turned to be a problem for me because when a large number of the trainees where able to do the work, they started opening their own workshops near mine and ‘rivalry started showing its
ugly head.’ I had to leave because the place was not safe for me anymore.

From Nigeria I leave for Libya, where I spent one and half year, but also face a similar problem, which force me go to Mongolia. At that time, foreigners in Libya where not given the chance to show up and if you are
caught you become a victim of deportation. This was the reason why I fly to
Mongolia to safeguard my job and dignity, because for me, deport would have
been the worst thing to happen to me, I would not have had the time to
accomplish my mission.

In Mongolia, I had that the situation in Libya was ok and I went back to Libya doing building painting. When I feel that I am ok in arts training I came back to Nigeria, then to The Gambia.

I arrived in The Gambia in middle of 1996 and opened a workshop, where I continue to work as an artist till date.

TNBES: How did you come to fall in love with arts?

Karamo: Well to be precise, I love arts since my primary level of education. When I was a child I used to mould clay into different items and when ever I present them to people they become happy and
give me support to keep up the momentum. From there, I developed that sense of

creativity till date. “I am most grateful to God the Almighty.” The aim of my
traveling was to learn arts only and become specialize in it. To be frank with
you I don’t have any other job that I love more than arts.

TNBES: What are the kinds of arts you specialize on?

Karamo: I specialize on screen printing, neon signs, stamps, sign boards, school badges, T-shirt printing and graphics. Among all these, the most important one is graphic design. We design valuable and
wonderful products at reasonable prices. In my workshop I believed in quality
and not quantity because that is what I was trained.

TNBES: what inspired or motivated you to become an artist?

Karamo: I got my inspirations from my teacher and well wishers who have always took it as a responsibility upon themselves to see me excel this field. Actually I cannot tell you who exactly I looked upon that
inspired me. However, I used to have one teacher called Mrs. Williams who have
always taken it as a challenge upon herself to see me at the top of the success
lather.

“It has been my number one priority to become an artist and this has contributed a lot towards my success.”

TNBES: Are you solely earning you living through arts?

Karamo: yes, in fact I started earning my living through arts since when I was young. In my school days I used to make practical assignments for my fellow students, some teachers even assign me to do some
artistic works which I was paid for.

As of now, my life depends largely on arts, because it’s through arts that I was able to buy a compound, a vehicle and raising my family through the proceeds of my art work. “Then you can see my whole life is arts, I
cannot live without arts.”

TNBES: what are some of the difficulties or challenges that you have faced or you are facing as far as the art work is concern?

Karamo: The challenges that I used face were discouragements from some of my colleagues, village members etc, that art is not a worthy field but I just see them as enemies of arts and what I always
yearned for was my success.

The most tedious work we the artist face is getting jobs from people. “Every worker who leaves his/her compound to go to work, you expect the person to do something when he/she reached his/her work place. But
due to lack of work, we sometimes sat for weeks without working.” This problem
is not affecting the artist only but it touches all other works of life.

TNBES: What is your massage to Gambian youths who are looking forward to becoming artist in future since you are a role model in Gambian art fraternity?

Karamo: The only massage I have for Gambians is that let them not rely on anybody, let them get up and work because working is the only thing that can make you become somebody. For future artist, what I have
for them is that they should exercise great patience because arts work is not
easy, they should also try to finish their trainings in order to become professionals.
If they Have respect for their teachers, parents, themselves and the entire
country, they will succeed.

TNBES: Thanks for your time.

Karamo: It is always a pleasure; my doors are always open to everybody. VOL:2 ISSN:74

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