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Nike Okundaye is Busan Expo Goodwill Ambassador

By Sunday Aikulola
21 August 2022   |   4:08 am
As part of the country’s efforts at securing the hosting right for the 2030 Busan World Expo scheduled for May 1 to October 31, 2030, the Republic of Korea, through its embassy in Nigeria, on Wednesday, August 10, 2022, unveiled the renowned Nigerian artist and curator, Nike Okundaye, as its Goodwill Ambassador.

Chief Rueben Osaruyi Okundaye; his wife, Nike; the South Korean Ambassador, Kim Young-Chae, and his wife, Kim Hyun-Joo, during the unveiling of Chief Nike Okundaye as Goodwill Ambassador for the 2030 Busan World Expo at the Nike Art Gallery, Lekki, Lagos

As part of the country’s efforts at securing the hosting right for the 2030 Busan World Expo scheduled for May 1 to October 31, 2030, the Republic of Korea, through its embassy in Nigeria, on Wednesday, August 10, 2022, unveiled the renowned Nigerian artist and curator, Nike Okundaye, as its Goodwill Ambassador.

The Korean ambassador to Nigeria, Kim Young-chae, and his wife, Kim Hyun-Joo, attended the event, which held at the glamorous Nike Art Gallery, Lekki, Lagos.

With the conferment of her ambassadorial title, the multi-talented artist and passionate promoter of African arts is expected to leverage the support of Nigeria in promoting the Republic of Korea and the candidacy of Busan in Nigeria and the entire West Africa.

The voting for the 2030 World Expo site selection is scheduled for November 2023.

Speaking at the event, the Republic of Korean Ambassador to Nigeria, Kim Young-chae described Nike as diligent with excellent team spirit.

He disclosed that the Republic of Korea, in 2021, submitted a letter of candidature to the Bureau International des Expositions (BIE) to organise World Expo 2030 in the city of Busan. He added that the Republic of Korea candidature is based on the theme: “Transforming our World, Navigating Toward a better Future”.

If successful, he said the expo would hold in Busan between May 1 and October 31, 2030 in close partnership with Korean embassy.

Busan, a prominent port city, has an enviable history of holding mega global events such as the Asian Games and APEC Summit, which it hosted in 2002 and 2005 respectively.

Busan also serves as a notable transportation and logistics hub and a connecting passageway from the Eurasian continent to the Asia-Pacific via heits airports, high-speed railways, top edged ports and other infrastructure. As the cultural nexus of the region, Busan is reputed to be a popular city of cultural festivals, arts and film.

It has successfully hosted many events such as the Busan International Film Festival (BIFF), Busan Fireworks Festival, One Asia Festival and a global K-Culture Pop Music Festival.

The municipality has also played host to memorable conferences like the 2011 Busan World Development Institute General Assembly, 2014 ITU Plenipotentiary Conference, 2014 &2019 ASEAN-ROK Commemorative Summit, 2015 IDB Annual Meeting and the 2022 International Forwarders Associations (FIATA) World Congress.

Besides epitomising the proposed theme, the candidate city, with a population of about 3.5 million and average of 40 million tourists visiting annually, is strategically located on the southeastern tip of the Korean peninsula and boasts of well-equipped infrastructure.

Young-chae traced the correlations in the history of Korea, Nigeria and the life of Nike herself. Korea, he said, was poorer than Nigeria in the 1960s from where the country rose to become an emerging soft power embedded in tech-culture.

Similarly, Nike rose from poverty and prejudice associated with the female child to become the face of Nigerian culture. Nike’s story, therefore, is like the Korea story.

“In Nike Art Gallery and Nike herself, we see the beauty of Nigeria,” said the ambassador. He thanked Nike for accepting the Korean offer.

While saying that Busan is well-developed, well-placed and well-experienced to be a perfect host, he said: “Nike has wide network and connections all over the globe, so, she would use her network and influence to mobilise for the Busan. The Korean Embassy and Nike Art will continue to collaborate.”

Nike’s husband, Dr. Reuben Okundaye, who gave the vote of thanks said, “when my wife told me about the ambassadorial role, I jumped with joy because that is what I like to hear. What was not mentioned is that my wife was also made ambassador at Hanover World Expo in 2000.”

Speaking further, he described the Korean Ambassador as a man of the people.

He said, “I thank him for the confidence he has in Nigeria. Some people described Nigeria as a bad place but Nigeria is like any other nations in the world. There is no place in the world that is insulated from what is happening in Nigeria.”

Speaking further, he recalled, “I visited Korea in 1985. There was industrial revolution then. But you can see the changes that have taken place. South Korea has developed from a consumer country to a productive country. That is what we want for Nigeria. I pray that Busan will win. Having made Nike the ambassador, Busan will win, because Nike’s spirit translates success. I have watched her from far and near and anything she touches always turn successful.”

In her response, an elated Nike expressed happiness with the honour, even as she expressed optimism that Busan would win.

In her speech, Prof. of Sociology at Stony Brook University, United States, Oyeronke Oyewumi described Dr. Nike as a treasure that deserved to be called an Oba. She also said she has a charming personality.

Among other dignitaries present at the event were Dr. Kensington Okundaye, MD, Refund Business Technologies Ltd; Prof. Awam Amkpa, Dean of Arts & Humanities, New York University, Abu Dhabi; Dr. Ryan Connor, University of Bristol; Titi Ogufere, 21st President of the International Federation of Interior Designers Association of Nigeria; Ms. Fluke Michael, CEO/ Project Director, Solution 17 Green and others.