Chief Dr. (Mrs.) Oyenike Monica Okundaye popularly known and called “MAMA NIKE” by her numerous fans, was born on the m23rd May 1951 at a very quiet and hilly village of Ogidi-Ijumu in Kogi State of Nigeria. Nike is a multi-talented individual with a wide range of enduring fortitude. In her early life as a village girl, she was a stage dancer and later became an actress featuring as a lead actress in a local Yoruba film, “Ayaba”. In addition, she has also participated in many documentary films including “KINDRED SPIRITS” sponsored and produced by Smithsonian Museum in Washington DC, and a CNN feature documentary film “AFRICAN VOICES”. In January 2016, CNN again featured Nike in another documentary film “INSIDE AFRICA”. Nike then walked up the ladder to become a rare international icon in art. She is an accomplished professional artist; a painter, a textile artist, weaver, embroider, and awards winner at many national and international art shows. Nike is a member of many national and international professional bodies. She is also principally a social entrepreneur and a well-known philanthropist championing the cause of the neglected Nigerian rural women using art as a tool to accomplish these noble missions. Nike is happily married with children.
Membership of Professional Bodies:
Society of Nigerian Artists, ASA of USA and Canada, ACASA, Society of Nigerian Women Artists, Member of Osun Grove Support, Member of National Heritage Council of Nigerian, Member of the Board of Trustees of Osun State Centre For Black Culture and International Understanding, Federal Capital Territory of Nigeria Council for Art and Culture, Member of Lagos State Council for Art, Culture and Tourism, etc.
A Social Entrepreneur and a Philanthropist.
Nike is the Managing Director of Nike Centre for Art and Culture, Osogbo where she offers free training to all Nigerians in various forms of arts. The center was established in 1983 by Nike solely from her earnings as an artist and without government assistance. Nike opened this center with 20 young girls who were marching the streets in Osogbo aimlessly and who had no hopes for the future. In their tender age, Nike withdrew these girls from the streets and provided them with free food, free materials, and free accommodation at her residence at Osogbo and taught them how to use their hands to earn decent livings through the art. So far, over 3000 young Nigerians (mainly violated and abused young women) have been trained in the center and who are now earning their decent livings through art. Many African countries now send their students to study textile art at the center.
The Nike Centre for Art and Culture, Osogbo now admits undergraduate students from many universities in Nigeria for their industrial training programs in textile design. Over the years, this center now admits students from European countries, Canada, and the United States of America. International scholars and other researchers in traditional African art and culture also visit the center from time to time for their research work into Yoruba “Adire” fabric processing and African traditional dyeing methods.
Nike is also the Owner/Curator of the 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 rural women in the weaving center. In June 2002, Nike 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 which will provide a functional platform for research into Nigerian traditional textile industry in the Federal Capital Territory area of Abuja. In furtherance of these noble endeavours, Nike is currently the managing director and founder of the following organizations in Nigeria; “Nike Art Productions Limited” which she incorporated in 1994, “Nike Art Gallery Limited” which she incorporated in 2007 and the “Nike Research Centre for Art and Culture Limited” which she incorporated in 2007.
Also in 2007, Nike founded the “Nike Art and Culture Foundation” with some notable eminent Nigerians as trustees, with the main aims and objectives of fostering Nigerian cultural heritage. Nike has earned for herself numerous laurels for her hard work, devotion, and dedication towards the promotion of art and culture in Nigeria. Just to mention a few of her recent time awards and public recognition of her noble efforts in developing the society and mankind, in May 2006, Nike was awarded “Ordine Della Stella Della Solidarieta Italiana” one of the highest Italian national awards of merit by the government of the Republic of Italy in appreciation of her efforts in using art to address and solve the problems of Nigerian prostitutes (sex workers) in Italy.
- Some Other Recent Awards And Merits:
In 2005, the National Commission for Museum and Monument of Nigeria awarded Nike a certificate of excellence in recognition of her efforts in the development of Nigerian cultural heritage.
- In 2005, the Department of Fine Art, Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile – Ife awarded Nike a certificate of merit in recognition of her efforts in the promotion of art education in Nigeria.
- In 2004, Nike was awarded an honorary certificate of merit by the Nigerian Union of Journalists, Osun State Chapter in recognition of her contribution to the advancement of Nigerian cultural heritage.
In 2003, a certificate of merit was awarded to Nike by the Okun Yoruba people of Kogi State of Nigeria in recognition of her efforts in youth development in Nigeria.
- In 2002, Nike was bestowed with an award of distinction by the National Association of Kogi State Students in recognition of her efforts in promoting Art awareness among the youths in Nigeria.
In 2002, Nike was awarded and admitted as a fellow of the Institute of The Pan – African Circle of Artists of Nigeria in recognition of her commitment to the promotion of art education in Nigeria.
- In 2009, The “CEPAN Foundation” of Nigeria awarded Nike a plaque of honour for being the African Art Icon of the year.
In 2010, the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA) of Nigeria presented Nike with a golden plaque of honour in recognition of her noble role in the fight for a drug-free Nigerian society.
- In 2010, the Osun State Council for Art & Culture presented Nike with a golden plaque of excellence for being one of the leading “Patron of Art & Culture” in the State.
- In 2011, the “Northern States Chambers of Commerce, Industry, Mines, and Agriculture” presented Nike with a crystal plaque of honour for her leadership and entrepreneurship roles in Nigerian commerce and industry.
- In 2011, the Art Galleries Association of Nigeria (AGAN) in collaboration with the Nigerian National Gallery of Art (NGA) presented Nike with a plaque and a certificate of honor for art dealers of the year.
- In 2011, the SISI-OGE Foundation of Nigeria awarded Nike a crystal plaque for her outstanding dedication to the promotion of Nigerian cultural heritage.
- In 2012, The Business and Professional Women of Nigeria Association honored Nike for her Outstanding Leadership quality in the area of her entrepreneurial spirit and her role as a change agent in promoting art and culture globally and for the empowerment of rural community women and young people.
- In November 2012, Nike has presented a plaque of honor ward by the Female Artists Association of Nigeria (FAAN) for her support and contribution to the growth and development of Female Artists in Nigeria.
- In December 2012, Nike has presented a plaque of honor ward by the National Council for Art & Culture (NCAC) in Abuja in recognition of her efforts in the promotion of the Nigerian Creative Industry and Empowerment through Visual Art.
- In May 2013, Nike was presented with a golden trophy by the National Museum, Onikan, Lagos in appreciation of her contributions to the development of the National Museum in Lagos.
- In June 2013, Nike was presented with a golden plaque, titled “Life Achievement Award” by the Ogidi Development Union in Kogi State in recognition of her efforts in the development of Ogidi village in Kogi State of Nigeria, her birthplace.
- In March 2014, Nike was invited by the First Lady of Kogi State under the auspices of “Kogi State Women Association of Nigeria” and she was awarded the “Women Inspirational Award – 2014” in recognition of her efforts in motivating and economically empowering the rural women of Kogi State.
- In 2015, Nike was awarded a plaque of achievement by the National Black Art Theatre of New York, USA. in recognition of her “Unleashing The Power Of The Spirit In Art” globally.
- In 2015, Nike was awarded a plaque of excellence by the “Yoruba Arts & Festival Promotion Organization of Nigeria in recognition of her outstanding vision, dedication, and commitment to excellence in the area of Art, Culture, and Fashion designs.
- In July 2015, Nike was presented with a plaque of excellence, in recognition of her outstanding contributions to the world of Arts and the Promotion of Indigenous African Culture by “The Julliard Academy of Nigeria.
- In September 2015, Nike was presented with the “Inspirational Women’s Award” by the COMMITTEE OF WIVES OF LAGOS STATE OFFICIALS in recognition of her valuable contributions to the empowerment of women in Nigeria
- In October 2015, Nike was awarded the “Ambassador Of The Arts” by the Ojenco Industrial Training Institute of Nigeria.
- In 2015, Nike was presented with a plaque of excellence in recognition of contributions to the empowerment of youths in Nigeria by the XG Organization of Nigeria.
- In 2015, Nike was awarded a plaque of excellence, in recognition of her remarkable contributions to the development of the Arts in Nigeria, by the “4th Glen & Essence Organization of Nigeria.
- In 2015, Nike was awarded the “Brand Icon Of The Year” by the Nigeria Models Association.
- In 2016, Nike was awarded a platinum plaque in the USA by the Detroit Institute of Art and The Friends of Africans & African American Art Institute during their 11th Annual African Art Recognition Award Ceremony for her global contribution to art as an Artist, Art Patron and A Social Philanthropist.
- In 2017, Nike was awarded a plaque by the Hayat Foundation of Nigeria for her tireless efforts and contributions to the building of the Hayat Institute for Cerebral palsy and children of special needs. In 2018, Nike was awarded a Crystal plaque by The Osun State Officials Wives Association of Nigeria for her contributions to the promotion and advancement of women in Arts.
- On the 13th of April 2019, Nike was awarded and conferred with a Doctorate Degree of Fine Art (Honoris Causa) by Rhodes University in Grahamstown, South Africa.
- In the month of June 2019, Nike was invited to be a special guest of honor at the Smithsonian Institute Museum of African Arts in Washington DC USA to deliver lectures and facilitate workshops focusing on traditional Yuroba Adire textile culture during the period of an Art Exhibition showcasing the artworks of African women. The title of the African women exhibition was; “I Am … Contemporary Women Artists of Africa”. In that exhibition, Nike’s artworks and paintings titled “The Liberal Women In Protect March Part 1 & 2” were also displayed for public view.
- In September 2019 – Dr. (Mrs) Nike Okundaye was invited by Osun State University, Osogbo and she was awarded and conferred with a Doctorate Degree of Art (Honoris Causa) at Osogbo, Osun State. This award makes it the 2nd. Doctorate Degree conferred on Nike within the period of 6 months (one by a leading South African University and the other by a leading Nigerian University – this a record set by a female artist in Nigeria).
Nike was principally educated in art by her great grandmother whom Nike lived with after the death of her mother and grandmother. Her great grandmother was a weaver and an “Adire” textile maker/dyer during her lifetime. It is, therefore, interesting to observe that Nike had no serious formal western education because of a lack of funds. Her parents were quite poor and they could not fund her education. The truth is that Nike lost her mother at the age of 6 and her grandmother at the age of 7. Her father, the late Nicolas Ojo Allah who was a village traditional drummer and baskets weaver in his days could not help her much to acquire higher western education.
Nike stopped schooling at the primary 6 school level at her village at Ogidi-Ijumu in the Kogi State of Nigeria. However, Nike went ahead to teach herself English at home. She never went to school to study art which had brought her to the global spotlight. Vocational training in art was passed down to her by her great grandmother, late madam Ibitola who was an “Adire” textile maker and a dyer of fabric during her days in the village of Ogidi-Ijumu, Nike’s birthplace. Watching her great grandmother in the art of “Adire” textile processing and helping her out in “Adire” making, Nike walked up the line to become an expert in “Adire” textile making, dyeing, weaving, painting, and embroidery. This was the way vocational training was passed down from parents to children in Yoruba communities in those days in Nigeria.
Nike steadily built upon what her great grandmother taught her and went ahead to develop her own unique style and technique in textile design and painting, and how to effectively present them for exhibitions. Nike is a multi-talented person who was able to use her natural given ability to assist and help much less privileged. In that quest, she has been able to give hope to the hopeless in our society. In the same vein, Nike has been able to economically and socially empower many rural women by setting up cottage weaving workshops/centers for women at Abuja, Osogbo, and Ogidi-Ijumu thereby giving voices to them in their various communities. Nike’s challenges were many especially when her activities are centered in men-dominated creative sectors. The men saw her initiatives and activities to be too out in giving the so-called liberties to women who were hitherto oppressed in the rural areas.
In her humble quest to further promote, enhance, sustain and provide enabling environment for the growth of African cultural heritage in Nigeria, Nike single handily went ahead in 2009 and built a five-floor ultra-modern cultural art center at Lekki Peninsula, Lagos with the main purpose of positively transforming the landscape of the hitherto neglected art and culture in Nigeria. This building was opened to the public in September 2009. This building also holds Nike’s second textile museum. It also houses the 4th Nike Art Gallery in Nigeria with a large stock of Nigerian and African art of different media. In her keynote speech during the opening ceremony, Nike did tell the world, “I dedicate this building to the glory of God and to the Nigerian cultural heritage”. Since the opening of this building, the “Nike Cultural Art Centre” has become a cultural hub and a popular tourist destination in Lagos Nigeria.
From a very modest beginning without serious formal western education, Nike’s actions and initiatives have positively impacted the lives of so many who came her way. Other than giving the benefits of her exposure to the less privileged, Nike’s works have meant and become close to a large array of dedicated fans across the globe where she has become an ambassador of goodwill for art and culture for her beloved country since 1974 when she first took her artworks across the shores of this country to the Americas for an exhibition. She has had 38 groups and over 116 solo exhibitions of her works in her professional artistic life. Nevertheless, her works can be found in many public and private holdings all over the world including; schools, colleges, universities, palaces, and museums. In fact, many academic papers and articles have been written and produced on her artworks by scholars across the globe. Her interactions cut across the divide; politicians and non-politicians, diplomats, scholars, businessmen and women, researchers, children, tourists, etc come on daily bases to visit Nike and her centers in Nigeria.
Updated 15th. April 2022.