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8 Jan, 2024 21:52

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

Africans should stop chasing foreign lifestyles and instead focus on their own creativity and heritage, Nike Davies-Okundaye, a renowned Nigerian textile designer and 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 this, she added.

Davies-Okundaye is the founder of the Nike Art Centre, Lagos, a massive gallery housing thousands of pieces of art that offers visitors a glimpse of the cultures of Nigeria. The gallery also has branches in 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 artists and funded the development of 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.

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

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

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

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

Davies-Okundaye also urged young people 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.