May 27, 2015 – The Life Story Of Nike Davies Okundaye: Nigerian Actress Without Formal Education, Now Lecturing At Harvard & Top Universities In The World
64-year-old Nike Okundaye, born in Ogidi village, Ijumu Local Government Area of Kogi state is the founder of Nike Art Gallery and has taught and held workshops at several foreign universities like Harvard, Columbus, Edmonton, Ohio and Los Angeles.
Nike Centre for Art and Culture, Osogbo has taught 3000 young Nigerians, admits undergraduate students from many universities in Nigeria for their industrial training programmes in textile design and also students from Europe, Canada and the United States.
Here is her inspiring story…
Young Nike who tragically lost her mother at the age of 6 was forced to live with her grandmother, late Madam Ibikunle, who was skilled in cloth weaving, and saw no use in western education.
Her grandmother was the leader of the cloth weavers in the community which in a twist of fate, gave Nike the opportunity to weave from age 6 till she was very skilled at it. She used to cry and bemoan her unlearned state but looking back today, Nike says she’s grateful for everything that happened to her because it helped in making her who she is today.
Nike never went to any art school. Her vocational training from her grandmother made her an expert in adire making, dyeing, weaving, painting and embroidery.
Her international exposure began in 1968 when she had an exhibition at the Goethe Institute in Lagos. That was the starting point of her international recognition in the art industry. Ever since, she has had exhibitions in countries like the USA, Belgium, Germany, Italy and so on.
In 2000, she was invited to Italy to train Nigerian sex workers in creative ventures. And in 2006, she was awarded 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 sex workers in Italy.
Two American presidents had requested for her presence during their visits to Nigeria – President Bill Clinton and President George Bush. She was given the rare privilege of decorating the bedroom where George Bush stayed during his visit, after he specifically requested to meet her in Abuja.
Asked how she feels whenever she teaches in the classroom, Nike looked up as if relishing her achievements, and said: “I feel fulfilled. It was a very high sense of fulfillment. Imagine, a little girl who grew up in a rustic village without any sign of hope for a good future. Now I stand before PHD holders and teach them. I have been invited to meet presidents of foreign countries. I think I should be proud of my little achievements and be grateful to God.”
In spite of her seeming low education, she insists she has no regrets about not attending school. “I have no regrets at all. I give thanks to God for making all these things possible for me. I also thank my husband for standing by me all these years. I must confess that it was not easy coming this far. You will agree with me that for a woman to be recognised, she has to work three times harder than a man.”
[Sources: Linked In, Nike Davies Official Bio]