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Time for Africa to go back to its roots – Nigerian art gallery founder to RT

No one will help Africans make their names in the world, but themselves, Nike Davies-Okundaye believes

Africans should stop chasing foreign lifestyles and instead focus on their own creativity and heritage, Nike Davies-Okundaye, a renowned Nigerian textile designer and the founder of the biggest art gallery on the continent, told RT in an exclusive interview released on Monday. The people of Africa need to see just how rich their homelands are and take pride in that, she added.

Davies-Okundaye is the founder of the Nike Art Centre, Lagos, a massive gallery housing thousands of pieces of art and offering visitors a glimpse at all cultures of Nigeria. The gallery has branches in the Nigerian towns of Abuja, Oshogbo and Ogidi. The textile designer is also known for her work in art education and philanthropy. She is said to have taught thousands of local artists and funded the development of local workshops and businesses in various regions of the country.

“I always wanted people to see that our culture and our heritage is our pride,” Davies-Okundaye said, adding that people often “do not know what we have [in our country].” Some do not even speak their native tongues, she added.


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Society should educate the younger generations about the importance of their native language and culture, Davies-Okundaye insisted, adding that the appeal of one’s heritage might eventually catch up with a person no matter how far from home they traveled.

According to Davies-Okundaye, even African Americans are now traveling back to find out more about their heritage. “They are tracing their roots to Ghana or Liberia. Our roots should not die off,” she said.


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“Why not promote your own? Instead, we are promoting foreign [culture],” the textile designer said. Going back to its roots is the best way for Africa to make a name for itself in the international arena when it comes to culture, she maintained.

“When we do not help ourselves, no one is going to help us, no one is going to promote us,” Davies-Okundaye warned. African culture should also become more prominent in the media and find new ways to present itself to the world, the designer said.

“We need more media to showcase the creativity of Nigeria, to help us, to showcase our work, to show people what we are doing in our own country,” the gallery founder said, while welcoming “a chance to showcase our own creativity.”


The art gallery founder also called on youth to stop chasing money and instead follow their hearts. “Whatever you know you’re good at, do it well. Do not let anybody say: ‘this cannot bring you money’. Do not do it because of money, do it because it makes you happy,” she said.

January 09, 2024 at 03:22AM

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