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    Grace Amos

      Meet Chief Dr. Nike Davies-Okundaye, a Batik, and Adire textile designer who is heralded as one of the most renowned pillars of African arts and culture and best known as an artist for her cloth work and embroidery pieces. She is also known as Nike Okundaye, Nike Twins Seven Seven, Nike Olaniyi, and affectionately called Mama Nike.


      Mama Nike was born in 1951 in Ogidi Ijumu, a small town in Kogi State. She grew up amidst the traditional weaving and dyeing practiced in her hometown. Mama Nike first encountered the process of Adire-making through her great-grandmother at the age of six. When she was ten years old, she was already weaving on a proper loom to produce cloth and was considered a professional.


      Nike Okundaye brought exposure to the indigo dyeing and Adire production that dominated her informal training, having spent part of her early in Osogbo, a major center for art and culture in Nigeria. She has a five-year-decade-long career in Batik and Adire textile production and has given workshops on traditional Nigerian textiles to audiences in the United States and Europe.

      “I always sign the work I do by myself with my name N-I-K-E and I encourage the women to sign their work too, Nike Okundaye spoke to COLOR about her life as Batik and Adire designer. She described her works as “wearable art” and it is more than just fashion piece. The “Adire Alabela” is a material designed using a wax-resist technique called Batik to produce intricate patterns on differently-hued fabrics, focusing on indigo.


      The color indigo is regarded as the color of love among the Yoruba people, Nike said “the pattern of Adire is the way we used to communicate in the past”. She explained that ‘water patterns’ tell you ‘i am not your enemy, I am your friend’. The image of a gecko depicts ‘find me a room in your house and in your heart’, it is usually used by lovers. Love for the community and the environment are two of the most important elements of Adire, mama Nike said “you have to wear your indigo to show your people that you love them”.


      Nike has used this form of age-old craft to empower women of little means through education. She said thanks to textiles, there are over 4000 women whose lives have changed. She has given these women a voice and their work is their voice. Mama Nike founded and directed four art exhibition centers, constituting more than 7,000 artworks.

      Mama Nike was married off to then-famous musician and painter, Twin Seven Seven at the age of fourteen, that is how she got the name ‘Nike Twin Seven Seven’. However, she divorced him after fifteen years of marriage and later married David John Davies, when she got the name ‘Nike Davies’. She is currently married to a Nigerian ex-police commissioner Reuben Okundaye.


      Nike Okundaye thinks that it is important to pass traditional craft-making to newer generations to preserve culture and protect the environment, as it should not just be a means of providing Nigerian women with a livelihood.

      • This topic was modified 7 months ago by Admin.

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