#BeInspired: Oyenike Okundaye

The history of arts and crafts in Nigeria is incomplete without the mention of Chief (Mrs) Oyenike Monica Okundaye.

She is known for promoting Nigeria arts and crafts via paintings, sculptures and designs. She is the face behind the huge success story of Nike Arts Gallery, located in Lagos, Abuja and Osogbo in Nigeria.


Mrs Okundaye lost her mother at age six, after completion of her primary six education. After the family tragedy, she was taken to live with her grandmother, who at that time was the leader of clothes weaver in the community. Of course, in Nigeria then, you can’t live with your granny without assisting her with her chores and work, so young Nike started weaving at the age six.

What interest me most about this woman’s story is that, her education stopped at primary six level, because of the death of her mother, yet she was still able to make a name and recognized brand for herself.

In her words “my grandmother was the head of all the weavers in our community. So even as a little child, I already had a dream that I would own a big studio when I grew up. People came from different areas to buy cloth from her (my grandmother). So, at that time, I already sensed that I might not have the opportunity to go to school”.

” But today, if I look at my childhood and all that I went through as something designed by destiny, who knows, maybe if my mother had not died and I have gone ahead to be educated, I may never have had the kind of opportunity that I have today and may never have risen to the level I am”.

Oyenike never went to school to study art, she never read past primary six, but today, she is a world acclaimed artist and textile designer. Her works are celebrated in the world, her designs exhibited in USA, Belgium, Germany, Japan, Italy and many others.

Image via eattechtravel

Some of Nike’s work can be found amongst the collection of prominent politicians around the world, including the white house.

Two former president of the USA, Bill Clinton and George Bush; were impressed by her work that they sought audience with her during their visit to Nigeria (talk about talent that can’t be hidden, or a light that can’t be put out,lol).

The purpose of this write up is not to discourage education. I just needed us to see that no matter what happens to us and in us, it can’t stop your greatness or destiny.

Most times we fail to know that “our setback could be a set-up for our next level” , there is always something significant in our setback or downfall.

Mummy Nike never went to a university, neither did she attend a high school, but she has taught and still teach in several prestigious universities in the world. She has taught lot of people, even PhD holders.

The bible didn’t go wrong went it said ” a man’s talent maketh way for him, and makes him sit with kings and powerful rulers”.

But, Nike harnessed her talent and Invested in her pain.

Photo credits: photos with logo beneath @eattechtravel.

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