Moses Tuki is a 33-year-old Nigerian man from Taraba state. He has been named Nigeria’s ‘Iron Man’ because of his rare talent; the industrious man has gifted hands which enable him create beautiful works of arts from iron and junks.
NAIJ.com had an exclusive interview with the talented young man and this made him open up on his journey in the creative world. Tuki shared with us a part of his lfe that he has kept private and this made us understand how he ventured into the art of making impressive artworks.
Tuki’s beautiful artworks have taken him outside the shores of the country where he has been given the right resources to equip him and enhance his skills. This exclusive chat he had with NAIJ.com will help you understand the man behind the iron structures.
Check out the excerpts of the interview had with Moses Tuki below:
Can you tell us more about yourself?
I come from a modest family, so I never had the luxury of having toys to play with.
Family background and academics?
I am the eldest of five children. I lost my dad when I was just thirteen. My mom who is a primary school teacher did all the upbringing. She kept my dreams alive by supporting me in any way she could. She was a very good disciplinarian so she never over looked my wrong doings.
I wanted to study sciences but she felt that I was stronger in art subjects by just going through my academic performances over time. She advised me to consider arts and added that no course was unimportant and that what really mattered was passion and hard work. That was how I became an art student.
I received the first prize for the best in visual arts in SS2. I completed my secondary school in 2002 and applied for the Department of Fine Arts in A.B.U Zaria. My choice of study was highly influenced by the quest to avoid courses that involved serious calculations; that was my weakness I guess. At that time my passion for art was deteriorating because continuous commitment was lacking.
How long have you been making objects from metals?
I and my peers had to find a way of creating our own toys. We would spend the whole day wandering around from place to place in search of discarded materials like covers of Vaseline containers, biro cases, slippers, nails, tin cans and scrap metals.
These materials were coupled together in a very skillful manner and toy cars were created. Our toys were so captivating to the extent that some of our privileged friends would agree to exchange their factory made toys for our hand made.
What prompted you into doing it in the first place?
My Found Object sculptures were mainly for academics and research purposes not business but most of the works were purchased in exhibitions within the academic arena. Found Objects for me is my most powerful media of expression, I don’t joke with them.
They focus on complex realities of everyday life aimed at fostering positive change for growth and development. In recent times I have worked on themes of devastation, warfare, trauma, insecurity, and corruption and the response of the public so far have been amazing.
How have you been able to reach out to people on your business?
After graduating in 2009 I was posted to Benue state to serve under the mandatory National Youth Service scheme.
During my service year, my primary responsibility was to teach fine arts as a subject in a secondary school in Benue state. However, I was determined to give so much more as I realized that there were other problems facing the youths.
As a result, I organized series of workshops and interactive sessions where I enlightened the students on important issues pertaining to their career objectives. In addition, I empowered them by training them on how to make cards and other artifacts, so they could sell in order to generate income.
How would you rate the reception of people since you began the awareness?
My desire was to make a difference in the community where I served; however, my effort was recognized by the state governor and I was presented the chairman’s honors award; a platform I attained through my works of art.
Have you gotten any award or some sort of recognition?
As far as money is concerned my found object sculptures have given far more than I ever expected at different levels. It was because of this Found Objects that I was awarded the best corp member, it was also because it that I was conferred with the presidential honors, given a job and in addition, a scholarship to study in one of the most prestigious school in the world.
I chose to go to New York to continue my studies, and was accepted into the prestigious New York Academy of Art where I graduated in 2015 and got international recognition in respect of my thesis work.
Has the business being yielding profit, what major progress have you recorded since you started?
What have you to tell us about your stay outside Nigeria?
With a lot of atrocities happening; Boko Haram, kidnappings, arm robbery, pipe line vandalism and corruption cases, the reputation of the country in the eyes of the world is been looked down on.
I was selected for a residency in Italy which slipped through my fingers as a result of security challenges in my country. I couldn’t believe my visa application which was put in by the school was turn down simply because am a Nigerian.
What motivates you to continue doing what you are doing?
I just want to impact positively on their lives in the little way I could. Some of my friends advised me to abandon the projects that I was just wasting my time and money and that it was not logical to spend my resources on a corrupt country like Nigeria.
I have learnt that the man who not only persists, but also uses the lessons gained from his previous failures constructively, is the one who can surmount even the biggest of obstacles.
Which major challenges have you tried to overcome since you began?
The two years during which I was refused a visa are probably the darkest moments I have ever encountered in my life. It was like touching my dream but being unable to grab it.
I have come to understand that the fact that we cannot see the sun does not mean that it is not there. It is just behind the dark cloud, and in due time its light will pierce through the darkness and warm our hearts if we hold on and keep hope alive.
What have you to say to the young ones out there?
I am here today because hope and possibility won the fierce battle for my mind. I have come to understand that storms and challenges are an essential part of life, which we could never avoid. The only time we would be truly free and secure from the storms of life is in the graveyard.
As long as we are still living, the storms will surely come; but what matters most is not the storm or its magnitude, but the way we respond to them. We have two options in life: to live a life of worry and panic which paralyses us, or to live a life characterized by growth which is triggered by “beautiful” challenges that could be harnessed by never giving up!
What would you like to be remembered for?
My dream would be to put Nigeria on the track of sustainable development by helping to diversify her economy through maximum exploration of tourism potentials. I want to be remembered just for living for others.
Watch the NAIJ.com TV video below to see what some Nigerians think about the situation of things in Nigeria: