Nike Okundaye uses Art to transform the lives of 5,000 Nigerian sex workers in Italy
Mrs. Nike Okundaye, the Founder of Nike Art Gallery, also known as “Mama Nike,” revealed that she transformed the lives of 5,000 Nigerian professional sex workers through art training in Italy. She shared this at the “Destination Marketing Strategy in Cultural Tourism“ event organized by the National Council for Arts and Culture (NCAC) in Abuja. Okundaye stated that she is passionate about training people to use art to combat poverty, unemployment, and crime in society.
She recounted that her love for training led her to Italy, where she trained 5,000 Nigerian prostitutes, with the use of art to transform 3,000 of them into artists. She shared that the artworks displayed at the event were the ones that started her work in 1995. According to her, many of the trained prostitutes have found employment and are no longer in prostitution.
Okundaye also shared that her passion for art began in her family, where art was passed down from generation to generation. She started practicing art due to poverty, but through it, she became an icon in society.
She urged the youth to follow their passion, upgrade their skills creatively, and think positively. She also disclosed that since she opened the Nike Art Gallery in Abuja, many youths have come for training. She has over 2,000 artworks in the gallery and has trained many artists who, in turn, train others.
The Director-General of NCAC, Otunba Olusegun Runsewe, commended the Nike Art Gallery and encouraged the government to support it to become a destination market for Nigeria. Runsewe emphasized the importance of recognizing, believing in, and developing local talent, and stated that if the private sector or an individual could establish a gallery like Nike Art Gallery, the government should provide the necessary support. He emphasized the tourism potential of the gallery, which can generate revenue for the country and reduce unemployment and crime. He also highlighted the therapeutic effect of art and called for the promotion of Nigerian artworks to speak for the country.