In the past one week, activities marking the 65th anniversary of renowned textile artist and culture icon, Chief Mrs. Nike Okundaye, have attracted quite a lot of artists and lovers of culture in Lagos.
Started from May 15, the celebration activities have been holding at the artist's space, Nike Gallery in Lekki, as artists, mostly those who have benefited directly or indirectly from her mentorship joined the mentor in the week-long celebration.
According to the artist's media office, programmes of the event at her gallery involved some art writers featuring in Artist Talk. Also on the list was a one week art exhibition and a gathering for traditional rulers and members of the diplomatic corps, among other activities slated to take place.
The statement added: "On the cards for the celebration of Mrs Okundaye's birthday is an evening of cultural performances and gathering of creative minds to enthrall her with razzmatazz and encomium.
"The event promises to be an avenue whereby art collectors and captains in the corporate sector as well as friends of the artist will mingle taking arts to another level in the humanities."
Speaking about her celebration, Okundaye states: "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.”
Okundaye, who is a native of Ogidi Ijumu, Kogi State used the occasion of her celebration to stress the importance of faith from the cradle of her career till date. “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."
She also thanked those who have supported her. "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 to 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."
She had advice for young artists: "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."
Born on May 23, 1951, Okundaye is the chief executive of Nike Centre for Art and Culture, Osogbo, where she offers free training to Nigerians in various forms of arts. She is also the founder of the Nike Art Gallery Lagos and Abuja.
In 1996, as a way of empowering Ogidi women, she established a textile (aso-oke) weaving centre in her hometown. More than 200 women have so far benefitted from that initiative. Yearly, she brings foreign dignitaries to her hometown in Ogidi.
Okundaye holds the traditional titles of Yeye Oba of Ogidi, YeyeTayese of Osogbo and YeyeGbasaga of Ijumu. She is a member of the Society of Nigerian Artists, (SNA) Society of Nigerian Women Artists, Osun Support Groove.
She 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.