Sunday, 8 January 2017


Nike in a Nigerian colour of green white green attire

Chief (Mrs.) Oyenike Monica Okundaye-Davies (aka) Nike - Founder of "Nike Art Productions Limited" incorporated in 1994; "Nike Art Gallery Limited" incorporated in 2007; "Nike Research Centre for Art and Culture Limited" incorporated in 2007; "Nike Art and Culture Foundation" 2007.

Dr James with Mama Nike

Born on May 23rd 1951 to Pa Nicolas Ojo Allah, a village traditional drummer and baskets weaver in Ogidi-Ijumu, Kogi State. She battled and made it to primary 6 school level at her village at Ogidi-Ijumu, before she dropped out, due to lack of funds. Out of school she taught herself English at home. She was brought up by her great grandmother, Madam Ibikunle after the death of her mother while she was 6 years old and the following year, she lost her grandmother. Her great grandmother was a cloth weaver and "Adire" textile maker/dyer during her lifetime.

She is the brain behind Nike's Centre for Arts and Culture, Osogbo and Lagos. She started the Oshogbo center where training were offered free of charge to all Nigerians in various forms of arts in 1983, from her earnings as an artist and without governmental assistance with 20 young girls who were marching the streets in Osogbo aimlessly and who had no hopes for the future.

Nike and her students at work

Dr James in front of Nike Gallery in Oshogbo

During my visit to her Oshogbo gallery for this story, I discovered that the gallery is made up of sculptures, paintings, and hundreds of indigenous hand designed fabrics.

To date she must have trained close to 4000 young Nigerians. Some African countries do send their students to study textile art at the center. She also runs other Nike Art Galleries at Lagos, Osogbo, Ogidi-Ijumu and Abuja. In 1996, Nike established a textile (Aso-Oke) weaving center at Ogidi-Ijumu near Kabba in Kogi State for the women of the village, employing and empowering more than 200 women in the weaving center. In June 2002, she established an Art and Culture Research center at Piwoyi village, FCT Abuja with an art gallery and a textile museum, the first of its kind in Nigeria. In 2009, she built a five floor ultra modern cultural art centre at Lekki Peninsula, Lagos. The building hosts her second textile museum and 4th Nike Art Gallery in Nigeria with a large stock of Nigerian and African art of deferent media.

She is a member of Society of Nigerian Artists, ASA of USA and Canada, ACASA, Society of Nigerian Women Artists, Member of Osun Support Grove, Board member of the National Heritage Council of Nigeria, Member of the Board of Trustee of Osun State Centre For Black Culture and International understanding, among others.

She has held over 100 solo art exhibitions and over 40 group art exhibitions. Her works can be found across the world in places including: schools, colleges, universities, palaces and museums like the Smithsonian National Museum Of African Art in Washington DC, USA.

Mama Nike with Dr. James family

In 1974, she was one of the ten African artists who toured and taught arts in various crafts institutions in 50 state of the USA in a tour sponsored by USIS, Lagos.  In 1981, Nike’s work won the first prize during the SOUTH WEST ARTS FESTIVAL in Washington DC. USA. And she was awarded many prizes of honor at the end of the festival. Since then she has been growing from strength to strength. In 1983, The Nigeria Arts Council, Lagos sponsored Nike to represent Nigeria at a workshop held at the Museum of Natural History, New York, USA. During which period, her works attracted many arts collectors. she exhibited at the African Heritage Kenya during the World Women Conference held in Nairobi; represented Nigeria in an exhibition featuring African women artists held at the African Centre, London. Represented Nigeria in an exhibition held at the women museum in Washington DC. USA. In 1991, she was at  Washington DC to deliver lectures and conduct workshops at the Howard University, the University of Maryland and the Rhode Island School of Textile. In 1991, she co-featured in a film “KINDRED SPIRITS” produced by Smith Sonia on Nigerian artists which was a television documentary in USA and Canada. In 1991, she represented Nigeria during a conference of Black Artists held in Toronto Canada to celebrate African identity, in 1992, represented the continent of Africa in an exhibition organized by BMW Company, Munich Germany during their anniversary celebration. In 1994, at the 50th anniversary of the UN, she was one of the 50 world artists selected to exhibit their works in a film; a documentary in-put for the anniversary that was exhibited in South Africa; in November 1994, she exhibited her art works at the Royal York Hotel, Toronto Canada during the 37th annual conference of the African Studies Association of USA and Canada; in 1995, she was at the African Heritage in Nairobi, Kenya; 1996, the University Of Tampa Florida, USA; 1997, at the prestigious ‘Schobgarten Galleria’ in SCHOBGARTEN, Germany; in 1998, University of Wisconsin, USA. and Antwerp, Belgium where she performed at the Wereld Cultural Center in Antwerp; in 1999, Northern Michigan University, USA.; in 2000, she was invited by the Federal Government of Nigeria to supply all the textile materials, which she designed for the Nigerian pavilion at the Expo 2000 in Hanover, German; In June 2000, invited to Italy by the CISV of Italy and Caritas of Italy to organize art exhibitions and art workshops in Turin to address the problem of female prostitution in that country; in October 2000, she was invited with her cultural troupe by the Nigerian Ambassador to Netherlands to perform at the Hurge in celebration of the Nigerian 40th independence anniversary.

Dr James daughter, Amb Oluebube playing the receptionist at Nike gallery Lekki

Dr James with Pa Okundaye-Davies, mama  Nike's husband

She has won close to 100 awards, among them are: March 2014, "Women Inspirational Award - 2014"; May 2013, golden trophy by the National Museum, Onikan; June 2013, golden plaque, "Life Achievement Award" by the Ogidi Development Union in Kogi State; 2012, The Business and Professional Women of Nigeria Association, Outstanding and Leadership quality award; November 2012, plaque of honour award by the Female Artists Association of Nigeria (FAAN); December 2012, plaque of honour award by the National Council for Art & Culture (NCAC) in Abuja; 2011, "Northern States Chambers of Commerce, Industry, Mines and Agriculture" crystal plaque of honor; 2011, Art Galleries Association of Nigeria (AGAN) in collaboration with the Nigerian National Gallery of Art (NGA) plaque and certificate of honor for art dealer of the year; 2011, the SISI-OGE Foundation of Nigeria crystal plaque; 2010, the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA) golden plaque of honor; 2010, Osun State Council for Art & Culture golden plaque of excellence "Patron of Art & Culture"; 2009, “CEPAN Foundation” of Nigeria plaque of honor for being the African Art Icon of the year; May 2006, she won the highest Italian national awards of merit; 2005, the National Commission for Museum and Monument of Nigeria certificate of excellence; 2005, the Department of Fine Art, Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile – Ife certificate of merit; 2004, honorary certificate of merit by the Nigerian Union of Journalists, Osun State Chapter; 2003, certificate of merit by the Okun Yoruba people of Kogi State; 2002, award of distinction by the National Association of Kogi State Students; 2002, Fellow of the Institute of The Pan – African Circle of Artists of Nigeria
She is the “Yeye Oba” of Ogidi-Ijumu land, the “Yeye Tasase” of Osogbo land and “Yeye Gbasaga” of Ijumu Kingdom. She is married to Chief Okundaye with children.

1 comment:

  1. Wow! I'm so motivated by her story. This is to buttress the fact that we can be all we desire to be Beyond School Certificate (BSc)