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Breaking Boundaries & Changing Lives through Art – Nike Davies Okundaye on CNN International’s African Voices



A trip to Lagos is incomplete without a visit to Nike Davies Okundaye‘s Nike Art Gallery in Lekki, Lagos. “Mama Nike” as she is called by many has a truly remarkable and inspiring story. The veteran textile designer “pioneered the global revival of Nigeria’s ancestral dark blue cloth-dyeing art – Adire”
This past weekend, CNN International’s African Voices featured an extensive interview with Mama Nike.

She discussed her work aimed at empowering disadvantaged young people and women using Adire and art – “When they come there, it is free for them. They can eat and they can also discover themselves as an artist….And I always arrange exhibition for them, so they will be able to sell their work, not only to just do the work.” says Okundaye

Mama Nike also opened up about her humble beginning and how she learned the art of weaving and textile design “My great-grandmother started teaching me how to weave — from weaving to embroidery, embroidery to Adire, Adire to painting, painting to patchwork” she says.

She also discussed her spirituality including drawing her artistic and spiritual inspiration from Osun, the river goddess. “Nobody sees the goddess face to face, but you can see her in your dream. And sometime it talks to me in my dream….Immediately I dream and I wake up, I will quickly sketch it, because if I have to wait, it may go off my head. So the river has made a lot of impact because a lot of what I draw is about female who do the worshipping.

Very intriguing interview and profile.

Video below.

Information & Video Source: CNN International
Every week CNN International’s African Voices highlights Africa’s most engaging personalities, exploring the lives and passions of people who rarely open themselves up to the camera.


  1. Someone

    April 13, 2011 at 4:07 pm


  2. Someone

    April 13, 2011 at 4:08 pm

    Nigerians are doing it big

  3. Tiki

    April 13, 2011 at 4:10 pm

    Aww, I wanted to be first!

    • Someone

      April 13, 2011 at 10:40 pm

      If you had told me, I would have waited for you. Next time my dear

  4. sexy

    April 13, 2011 at 4:25 pm

    am proud of u Mum Nike, my mum’s best friend’s Sister……may u live long ma!…u never went to school but u speak better than some graduates today…u r one of my inspiration:-)

    • Jess

      April 13, 2011 at 5:19 pm

      LOL! “my mum’s bestfriend’s sister” you.don’

    • pamhe

      April 13, 2011 at 6:55 pm

      AS.IN…….my cousin’s grandfather’s bestfriend’s brother…O_O..I give up..Lol!

    • prism of an immigrant

      April 13, 2011 at 11:48 pm

      I said “Really?” when I read it…. smh. Naija people.

    • seesexy

      April 14, 2011 at 7:27 am

      so what’s d big deal about dat? f u dont v something nice to point to, y dont u just clik like nd move on…..

    • chioma

      April 18, 2011 at 6:25 pm

      “You don’t mean it!…ROTFLMAO…

  5. toriola

    April 13, 2011 at 4:32 pm

    I am very proud of this woman. She has a 4 story building full of artwork etc on the Lekki express way (2nd or 3rd roundabout)…i dont get her prices though. First most of the arts are priced in USD so yeah…there you go. Very amazing pieces, but i still feel they are overpriced or it could be that some of us just don’t see the full value in a $30,000 painting.

    • Tochi

      May 5, 2011 at 12:25 am

      She is an established artist so her art work will be really expensive. For example, the price of a Picasso painting is way much more than the price of an ordinary artist painting. This is because, Picasso, though dead was an artist whose work people have come to adore this is the same with her paintings . Big ups to you Ma and keep up the good work

  6. eye-TEE-kay

    April 13, 2011 at 4:44 pm

    she did good! the osun river thing is a bit eerie

  7. Sugar

    April 13, 2011 at 5:15 pm


  8. Chipii

    April 13, 2011 at 5:19 pm

    Wow! Eyaaa! How inspiring. Not sure about the river goddess though. LOL

  9. Myne Whitman

    April 13, 2011 at 5:29 pm

    A truly inspirational story. She has provided opportunities for lots of Nigerian artists.

  10. contraculture

    April 13, 2011 at 5:33 pm

    Round of applause! Very inspiring!!

  11. ijaw babe

    April 13, 2011 at 7:12 pm

    great artist. watched the full interview on CNN. currently on her 3rd husband. shes got lovely kids .

  12. Ready

    April 13, 2011 at 7:34 pm

    I love that she’s done well for herself and garnered recognition…but let’s talk about her publicity and adulation-seeking 17-wives-having husband right quick.
    At his age, he doesn’t marry anyone less than 20 years old? Because he thinks he’s very very handsome… “All of a sudden, a lot of people started coming in from all over the world to visit me, to see my face, to see her…The issue is that I’m talented.”
    Lol….It ain’t about you, mister, it ain’t aboout you.

    • toriola

      April 13, 2011 at 10:52 pm

      Can we blame the man or the women who choose to be anything short of the main madam. if a man can get away with something, pls don’t blame him. I don’t know what can of perssusive skills goes into making a woman agree to being 2nd best, let alone number 17. All about how our mothers raised us abi is it sense of self worth

  13. NNENNE

    April 13, 2011 at 7:42 pm

    Terrific story!! Inspiring! May God, continue to guide and protect you.
    Our society really needs women like you.

  14. akudo

    April 13, 2011 at 7:54 pm

    i’m inspired by her story as i watched the full interview over the weekend. but i honestly dont like d river goddess angle, especially not in this time and age….thumbs up though!!!

  15. YeahIsaidit

    April 13, 2011 at 8:51 pm


  16. foolish talk

    April 13, 2011 at 9:52 pm

    blood of jesus!

  17. Brittle Paper

    April 13, 2011 at 10:45 pm

    Oh my God, I feel like crying. This is so inspiring. Nike is unbelievably sweet and successful.


    April 13, 2011 at 10:50 pm

    VERY INSPIRATIONAL! i can imagine what some naija parents would be saying if their child wanted to do art or major in art “you are not serious!” or something like that. haha, but this is finally someone else doing something different and something she is passionate about that is outside of the norm.

  19. pam

    April 13, 2011 at 11:26 pm

    I love this woman. Anyone who brings people up to stand on their own two feet is amazing to me. her ambition is for people under her to grow bigger than her. I met her about 5 yrs ago and found her to be humble and open. 2yrs later I was at her gallery and found out she was in Havard for a month to teach… a women without formal education o! such an authority in her field she was a guest teacher in Havard. I wondered why NGOs where looking abroad for models on economic empowerment when this we have people like this.

  20. PurpleiciousBabe

    April 14, 2011 at 12:03 am

    GOD bless her, she is really hardworking and inspirational…… awesome woman.. keep up the good work..

  21. Shine12

    April 14, 2011 at 1:42 pm

    She knows her quality,Art work sell for 10s of millions in New York,Paris,London e.t.c

  22. Shine12

    April 14, 2011 at 1:56 pm

    I love her,she’s blessed and she has the right to sell her work fro any amount, that’s to people saying her works are expensive.You think its easy?

  23. Uchenna

    April 15, 2011 at 12:32 am

    She is an Icon. Every woman should meet her, she truly inspired me!

  24. Oma

    April 15, 2011 at 10:53 am

  25. Latifah

    April 15, 2011 at 3:12 pm

    Lol @ ready I almost piqued when I saw the man who claims to marry only girls below 2Oyears! I was like you got to be kidding and me I no see any handsome feature for the baba bushy face o! Mum Nike was so articulate throughout the interview that I felt second rated wif ma degree. She has really done well for herself, hope she has someone to carry on the touch?I dont know about he Osun bit sha!

  26. Yinka Ogunbajo

    April 15, 2011 at 7:49 pm

    Truly an inspiration. Mama may God continue to bless and guide you.

  27. Lola

    April 15, 2011 at 9:58 pm

    I love mama Nike very much and her good works too. We should all find our purpose in life. My prayer for her is to receive Jesus Christ into her life – the only Way, Truth and Life. Wishing her many more achievements

  28. ijeoma

    April 17, 2011 at 6:37 pm

    Very inspiring…isnt this what CNN should be doing? interviewing people who truly inspire? na wa!

  29. ko-eazy!

    April 19, 2011 at 7:26 am

    LMAOOO at her ex-husband! Somebody please say -! May God bless her, she has done very well for herself for someone who didn’t have a privileged background.

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