Cheers for Nike Okundaye at 65

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Yinka Olatunbosun

On May 23, the internationally acclaimed textile artist and culture promoter, Chief Mrs. Nike Okundaye, turned 65. As part of the celebrations, her gallery, Nike Art Gallery will mark a mini-festival for art writers and artists at large. This will be followed by a one week art exhibition.

“I thank God for my life. Though, the challenge is there, which we face every day, but an opportunity like this affords one to look back and thank God for what he has done for me. That is why this kind of event is dear to my heart. Apart from that, I am using it to appreciate my maker for his mercies and kindness. I also want to use it to host my colleagues in the arts,’’ Okundaye declared in a press release announcing the scheduled celebrations.

The Kogi State-born artist is also thankful to artists who have contributed immensely in making her life as a gallery owner successful.

‘‘What I have achieved is also because I stayed focused to this goal and my love for the arts. I also want to advise our younger artists that things may not look good today, but they should continue.

Challenges are things that drive us to our ultimate destiny. What I am doing with this year’s birthday is not just to celebrate but to appreciate God for my life. As a matter of fact, I started my sojourn into arts when I was just six and had nothing. Having lost my mother in life early in life that challenge did not stop me and that is why I will always celebrate what God has done for me,” she added.

Born on May 23, 1951, Nike is the CEO, Nike Centre for Art and Culture, Osogbo, where she offers training free of charge to Nigerians in various forms of arts. In 1996, as a way of empowering Ogidi women, she established a textile weaving centre in her home town. More than 200 women have so far benefited from that initiative. She also brings important foreign dignitaries to her hometown annually.