At Bata Mi A Dun Ko Ko Ka launch, Soyinka, Onobrakpeya celebrate Okundaye
It was a convergence of the best of Nigerian arts recently, as renowned artist, Chief (Mrs) Oyenike Monica Okundaye, biography Bata Mi A Dun Ko Ko Ka, authored by Kofo Adeleke, with a foreword written by former US Ambassador to Nigeria, Dr. Robin Renee Sanders.
The memoir details Okundaye’s historic journey from Ogidi-Ijumu, a small village in Kogi State, with no formal education, to conquer the world. Okundaye, in the book, for the first time in history, shares all about her business, arts and crafts in the book.
Titled, Bata Mi A Dun Ko Ko Ka, a Yorùbá proverb, which means, ‘education is important in life’, the 233 pages work echoes a major part of the artist works, all rooted in powerful elements of Yorùbá culture and mythology. Readers of the book learn how art not only shaped her life as well her influenced what she does.
From joining a travelling theatre group to becoming an adept student, drawing from her family’s many artisanal specialisations, the book is filled with stories all narrated in this memoir.
Chaired by Chief Diana Chen, Chairman of CIG Motors, the launch attracted Nobel laureate, Professor Wole Soyinka; the CEO of the Nigerian Stock Exchange, Oscar Onyema; and other dignitaries.
Speaking at the event, Soyinka, a friend of ‘Mama’ Nike, commended her, said: “Today is all about my aburo; it’s always a delight to see her, the embodiment of gbogbo nishe – a multifaceted individual.
“Nike is one of the most exceptional and unique artists I’ve ever met, not because she uses herself as her own model of expression, but because she’s a walking piece of art that spreads joy all around. It’s an honour to celebrate with you today, aburo. It’s time for the world to get to know you and celebrate you,” the venerable writer said.
Also speaking on the globally recognised artist, award-winning sculptor, painter and printmaker, Professor Bruce Obomeyoma Onobrakpeya, said: “The best setting to discover a genius is in the informal educational setting rather than the academy.”
Emphasising the need for reconones roots, the chief launcher, Chief Diana Chen, said: “We all know Nike Ogundaye. We recognise her for her unending talents, her alluring gallery and her impeccable style. We know about her, but hardly do we know her story. She has groomed thousands of talents throughout her life, but I believe that through her story, she’ll inspire millions more.”
The arts lover called on governments at all levels, private sectors and well-meaning Nigerians to always celebrate heroes and legends whilst alive, saying: “In the wake of this new movement, a pace has been set, by celebrating the life and biography of a daughter of the soil who has done the nation proud nationally and internationally.”
According to Onyema, Nike Art Gallery was a first stop when he first visited Nigeria in 2011. He said that she spent two hours introducing him to the Nigerian art. “It gives me great honour to be here at this launch. As you know, finance is a great catalyst of growth in any sector. This convergence is a required ingredient for economic growth.”
On his part, Lagos-based Spanish architect and director, Yemisi Shyllon Museum of Art, Jess Castellote said, “The art world is a complex system with several players; I just want to mention one person that has helped consistently for the past decades. She has been very successful in that and I think we need to acknowledge that, and support her. It’s not only that she has trained people; she works in the gallery and has helped many others. I’m really glad to be here. I’ll say thank you Nike.”
In his opening remarks, the Vice Chairman of the CIG Group, Dr. Linus Idahosa spoke about the historic support the company has had for the creative industry. His words: “True Art is not just what stirs our sense of sight, attunes our soul or causes our spirit to rejoice. For us it is the most powerful tool for societal change and Mama Nike has proven to be that symbol.
“Mama Nike has trained a lot of people from the grassroots. On the other hand she also looks after artists, her colleagues and professors, giving them a means to continue. I would like to thank Kofo Adeleke for writing this book which reconstitutes a great document for the Nigerian art.”
Giving the closing remarks, the Consular General of Switzerland, Lagos, Thomas Schneider said, “I have visited many galleries around the world, but her gallery is a temple. When you leave Nike Art gallery it is like you are coming out of a dream. I took my staff on a company outing to the gallery, they are usually not familiar with art, and I told them art is like eating and sleeping.
“It is part of the basic need of people. It is part of that which defines us; it is a mirror of our society. It is important and I think they understand after the two hours we spent at the Art Gallery.”