Globally renowned Nigerian batik, textile designer and culture promoter, Chief Mrs. Nike Okundaye, turned 65 on Saturday, May 21. To mark the day, her gallery and those who have benefited directly or indirectly from her mentorship have concluded plans to celebrate her milestone in arts and culture. Activities put together for the celebration, according to the programme of the event from the gallery, include a mini-festival to be hosted in her Lekki based gallery. Kick-starting the event, the gallery hosted some art writers. The event is followed by the opening of a one week art exhibition, a get-together for traditional rulers and members of the diplomatic corps, among other activities slated to take place. Programmes for the celebration of her birthday also include an evening of cultural performances and gathering of creative minds, and goodwill messages among others. The event is expected to be an avenue for art collectors and captains in the corporate sector as well as other friends of the celebrant rob minds on raising the profile of the art and artists. She recalls, with nostalgia how it all started and the role she has played in the field of art: “I thank God for my life.
Though, the challenge is there, which we face every day, but an opportunity like this affords one to look back and thank God for what He has done for me. That is why this kind of event is dear to my heart. Apart from that, I am using it to appreciate my Maker for His mercies and kindness. I also want to use it to host my colleagues in the arts.” The Ogidi Ijumu, Kogi State born artist, is also seizing the opportunity to thank everyone especially the artists who have contributed immensely to making her life successful. “I am an ardent believer that the height that we reach in this world is not as a result of our making alone but God who helps us to achieve such thing in life. Now, at 65, I will tell you that God has been good to me. Whatever one finds in life is for a moment, no condition is permanent. Therefore, it is always good to cherish those who have been with you. We know that our destiny is not in our hands. This gives me a lot of strength to go on everyday despite challenges. I did not have much to say but I want to use this event thank God and celebrate with the art community. What I have achieved is also because I stayed focused to this goal and my love for the arts. “I also want to advise our younger artists that things may not look good today, but they should continue. Challenges are things that drive us to our ultimate destiny. “What I am doing with this year’s birthday is not just celebration but to appreciate God for my life.
As a matter of fact, I started my sojourn into arts when I was just six. Having lost my mother in life early in life that challenge did not stop me and that is why I will always celebrate what God has done for me.” Born on May 23, 1951, Mrs. Okundaye, who is respected as one of the most internationally known female artists from Nigeria, has made astounding strides in textile, visual arts and mixed media painting. She is the chief executive of Nike Centre for Art and Culture, Osogbo, were she offers training free of charge to Nigerians in various s forms of arts. She is also the founder of the Nike Art Galleries in Lagos, Abuja. In 1996, as a way of empowering Ogidi women, she established a textile (asooke) weaving centre in her home town. More than 200 women have so far benefitted from that initiative. She yearly brings important foreign dignitaries to her hometown in Ogidi to savour the beauty of the town. She holds the traditional titles of Yeye Oba of Ogidi, YeyeTayese of Osogbo and YeyeGbasaga of Ijumu, a member of the Society of Nigerian Artists, (SNA) Society of Nigerian Women Artists, Osun Support Groove and has won one of the highest Italian national awards which she was given in appreciation of her efforts in using arts to address and solve the problems of Nigerian commercial sex workers in Italy.