Indirect/direct elections

sketch, Marie Neurath, 1953, 127 x 202 mm, (I.C. 3.2/165-167) | read more...

In 1953, Obafemi Awolowo, the premier of the Western Region of Nigeria, was in London for one of a series of conferences convened by the British government. The aim was to place Nigeria's several regions on a sound constitutional footing prior to the country's anticipated independence.

Awolowo, as leader of the majority Action Group party, was largely responsible for shaping the Western Region's political programme at this time. In her 1980 memoir 'What I remember', Marie Neurath recalls their first meeting. 'One day Awolowo ... was expected. [Wolfgang] Foges came to me with a short text by him and said: "I would like to make clear to these people that they need visual methods in their country; read through this text quickly and make drawings for its main theses; not that [Awolowo] wishes to illustrate it; he should just see how pictures would help him." So I read quickly, plucked out a few points, and made some pencil sketches on slips of paper. I was there when Awolowo arrived in his Yoruba robes, together with his private secretary. After a while my sketches were given to him; he looked at them quietly and began to talk with his secretary; "how could we best use them; perhaps distribute them over the country from aeroplanes?".'

This is one of the sketches shown to Awolowo. It is a simple visualization of indirect and direct elections (with a rhetorical query about bribery), and helped to convince him of Isotype's value. The following year Marie Neurath travelled to the Western Region to consult on public information campaigns as a 'Visual Aids Expert'. (EK)

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