Chief (Mrs.) Nike Monica Okundaye popularly known and called “MAMA NIKE” is a multi talented individual with a wide range of enduring fortitude. In her early life as a village girl, she was a stage dancer and later became an actress featuring as a lead actress in a local Yoruba film, “Ayaba”. In addition, she has also participated in many documentary films including “KINDRED SPIRITS”sponsored and produced by Smithsonian Museum in Washington DC and a CNN feature documentary film “AFRICAN VOICES”. Nike then walked up the ladder to become a rare international icon in art.
Nike is the Managing Director of Nike Centre for Art and Culture, Osogbo where she offers free trainings to all Nigerians in various forms of arts. The centre was established in 1983 by Nike solely from her earnings as an artist and without government assistance. Nike opened this centre with 20 young girls who were marching the streets in Osogbo aimlessly and who had no hopes for the future. The Nike Centre for Art and Culture, Osogbo now admits undergraduate students from many universities in Nigeria for their industrial training programs in textile design. Over the years, this centre now admits students from European countries, Canada and the United States of America. International scholars and other researchers in traditional African art and culture also visit the centre from time to time for their research works into Yoruba “Adire” fabric processing and African traditional dyeing methods.
Nike is also the Owner/Curator of the Nike Art Galleries at Lagos, Osogbo, Ogidi-Ijumu and Abuja. In 1996, Nike established a textile (Aso-Oke) weaving centre at Ogidi-Ijumu near Kabba in Kogi State for the women of the village, employing and empowering more than 200 rural women in the weaving centre. In June 2002, Nike established an Art and Culture research centre at Piwoyi village, FCT Abuja with an art gallery and a textile museum, the first of its kind in Nigeria which will provide functional platform for research into Nigerian traditional textile industry in the Federal Capital Territory area of Abuja. In furtherance of these noble endeavours, Nike is currently the managing director and founder of the following organisations in Nigeria; “Nike Art Productions Limited” which she incorporated in 1994, “Nike Art Gallery Limited” which she incorporated in 2007 and the “Nike Research Centre for Art and Culture Limited” which she incorporated in 2007.
Also in 2007, Nike founded the “Nike Art and Culture Foundation” with some notable eminent Nigerians as trustees, with the main aims and objectives of fostering Nigerian cultural heritage. Nike has earned for herself numerous laurels for her hard work, devotion and dedication towards the promotion of art and culture in Nigeria. Just to mention a few of her recent time awards and public recognition of her noble efforts in developing the society and mankind, in May 2006, Nike was awarded “Ordine Della Stella Della Solidarieta Italiana” one of the highest Italian national awards of merit by the government of the Republic of Italy in appreciation of her efforts in using art to address and solve the problems of Nigerian prostitutes (sex workers) in Italy.