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Art icons celebrate Nike Davies Okundaye at launch of her biography

For the first time, Nike Davies-Okundaye, Nigeria’s textile queen and internationally renowned artist, is sharing her business and crafts industry insights in a biography authored by Kofo Adeleke, with a foreword written by Robin Renee Sanders, former US Ambassador to Nigeria.

The memoir details Mama Nike’s arduous and historic journey on rising to fame, from the walls of Ogidi-Ijumu, a small village in western Nigeria with no formal education to conquering the globe, as written by Kofo Adeleke.

Launched officially by Chief Diana Chen, the Chairman of CIG Motors, “Bata Mi A Dun Ko ko Ka” was historically unveiled in hardcover on December 19, 2020 at the CIG Motors Headquarters on Ligali Ayorinde, Victoria Island, Lagos.

The launch was witnessed by the creme de la creme of the art industry including; Wole Soyinka, Nobel Laureate, Oscar Onyema, CEO, Nigerian Stock Exchange, among other dignitaries.

The memoir’s title, in the form of a Yorùbá proverb, echoes a major part of Nike’s work, rooted in powerful elements of Yorùbá culture and mythology. In 233 pages, the reader learns how art shaped her life and influenced her art in diverse ways. From joining a travelling theatre group to becoming an adept student, drawing from her family’s many artisanal specialisations, Nike Davies, aka Nike Twins Seven Seven is a woman who has lived lifetimes filled with stories all narrated in this memoir.

Professor Wole Soyinka, the Nobel Laureate, and a friend of Mama Nike, also commended the artist.

“Today is all about my aburo, it Is always a delight to see her, the embodiment of “Gbogbonishe” – a multifaceted individual.

“Nike is one of the most exceptional and unique artists I have ever met, not because she uses herself as her own model of expression, but because she is a walking piece of art that spreads joy all around, it is an honour to celebrate with you today aburo. It is time for the world to get to know you and celebrate you”, Soyinka said.

Speaking on the artist, Bruce Obomeyoma Onobrakpeya, a professor and award-winning sculptor, painter and printmaker, remarked, “The best setting to discover a genius is in the informal educational setting rather than the academy”.

In his opening remarks, Linus Idahosa, vice chairman, CIG Group, spoke about the historic support the company has had for the creative industry. “True Art is not just what stirs our sense of sight, attunes our soul or causes our spirit to rejoice. For us it is the most powerful tool for societal change and Mama Nike has proven to be that symbol”, Idhosa said.

The call to reconnect with our roots was further emphasized by Diana Chen, the chief launcher and a business mogul. Being a lover of arts and culture, she expressed her affection for the blooming industry through crucial collaborations such as this.

Speaking at the event, she said: “We all know Nike Davies-Ogunlaye. We recognize her for her unending talents, her alluring gallery and her impeccable style. We know about her, but hardly do we know her story. She has groomed thousands of talents throughout her life, but I believe that through her story, she’ll inspire millions more.”

Giving the closing remarks, The Consular General of Switzerland in Lagos -Thomas Schneider said: “It is an honor to be here among the greatest artists on the planet; Soyinka, Bruce, and many other artists present. I already call her Mama, because this is the feeling I get when I visit her gallery. I have visited many galleries around the world, but her gallery is a temple. When you leave Nike Art gallery it is like you are coming out of a dream.

“I took my staff on a company outing to Nike Art Gallery. They are usually not familiar with art, and I told them ‘In the beginning, art is like eating and sleeping.

It is part of the basic need of people. It is part of that which defines us. It is a mirror of our society. It is important,’ and I think they understand after the two hours we spent at the Nike Art Gallery. Also, congratulations to all your achievements. I thank you for inviting us. Thank you also Chief Diana Chen. “

Famous for her arts, crafts, textile design, gallery and unmistakable style, Nike has a career spanning five decades all compressed into over 233 pages of beautifully composed text. The book launch ended with the reading of a few chapters by the author, embellished with unmistakable style, as always.

It has been a roller-coaster journey for the woman also known as Nike Twins Seven Seven, who has gone on to educate generations of artists, through a network of art centres across Nigeria at no cost. The memoir; “Bata Mi A Dun Ko koKa” is available now for N14,000 at BookCraft, its publisher’s site, and at Mama Nike’s eponymous Art Gallery.

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