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The Art Of Adire Gave This Textile Artist Global Fame

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Textile
artist Nike Davies-Okundaye worked as a construction laborer and
carried water and firewood to survive. The art of adire gave her global
fame and she is now educating generations of women in Nigeria.

There was no way Nike Davies-Okundaye could look the other way. For after all, she too had been a victim in her early teens. 

Too many women were being pushed down the traditional path of marriage and child-rearing in her country.

Born
in 1951 in Ogidi-Ijumu, a small village in western Nigeria known for
its spectacular rock formations and traditional art industry,
Davies-Okundaye resolved to fight this practice four decades ago.

“By
the age of 13, they wanted to marry me off because my father had no
money. I had to run away from home and join a traveling theater. I said I
didn’t want to marry and wanted to pursue art,” recalls the
internationally-renowned Lagos-based artist.

Not wanting to become
one of six wives to a minister, Davies-Okundaye found her escape
through adire, the name given to the Yoruba craft of tie-and-dye where
indigo-dyed cloth is made using a variety of resist-dyeing techniques.
Growing up in a predominantly art and craft household, Davies-Okundaye
is a fifth-generation artist who decided to take the craft seriously due
to poverty.

“I had no money to go to school and the first
education parents give you is to teach you what they do. So, when I
finished primary six and I had no support to go to secondary school, I
said to myself, ‘let me master art so I can teach other women to also
use their hand to make a living through their own artwork’.”

Davies-Okundaye
was forced to work in the male-dominated construction sector, carrying
concrete in pans to builders in order to save one shilling, just enough
to buy a yard of fabric to create what she called wall-hanging art.

Her
goal was to use the traditional wax-resist methods to design patterned
fabric in a dazzling array of tints and hues. The adire design is the
result of hand-painted work carried out mostly by women and through
that, Davies-Okundaye saw a way to help women to become economically
empowered. After all, her first break in life came as a result of that.

“There
was no other job I was doing apart from adire. I was lucky the American
government came to Nigeria to recruit an African who will teach African
Americans how to make traditional textiles or crafts in the state. That
is how I was lucky and got picked.”

Davies-Okundaye was the only
woman in a class of 10 men who were flown to Maine in northeastern
United States in 1974. That is where her whole outlook on life changed.

“Before
I went to America, I used to carry three drums of water every day and
carry firewood to be able to survive. It was like a breakthrough in my
life when I reached America. I said ‘is this heaven?’ I was the only
woman in the class and all the men were learning women’s looms and I
kept telling them ‘this is for women’ and they said ‘yes, in America,
what a man can do, a woman can also do’.”

This was in stark contrast to what she knew to be true in Nigeria at the time.

“If
your husband is an artist, you are not allowed to do art. In the 1960s,
if your husband has a PhD, you are not allowed to also have a PhD. You
had to give room for your husband to be your boss.”

She decided to beat those age-old stereotypes.

As
one of 15 wives to her then-husband at the time, Davies-Okundaye, with
her newfound knowledge gained in America, started a revolution at home.
She encouraged the other wives to create their own art business using
adire.

“I said ‘if you learn this, you can earn a living by
yourself and get your power because your money is your power’ and that
is how they also started learning it. I didn’t stop sharing the
knowledge there. I gathered girls on the streets who were selling kola
nuts and peanuts and started training them. I said ‘if this textile can
take me to America, let me teach other people’,” says Davies-Okundaye.

And
that has been her calling ever since. Davies-Okundaye is the founder
and director of four art centers, which offer free training to 150 young
artists in Nigeria in visual, musical and performing arts.

One of the centers is the largest art gallery in West Africa comprising over 7,000 art works.

“They used to get the police to arrest me because they said I was trying to teach feminism in Nigeria because I went to America. They said I was going to corrupt our Nigerian women but I believe God sent me to liberate a lot of women who have the passion for what makes them happy but are afraid to do it because of what people will say. I say do what makes you happy always!”

– Forbes Africa

Arts & Culture

Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie Wins Women’s Prize Award For Her Haunting Novel – Half Of A Yellow Sun

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Half of a Yellow Sun author, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, has won the Women’s Prize for her haunting novel after being voted for by the public who deemed Adichie the “Winner of Winners”. According to BBC, more than 8,500 people voted, and were invited to share their thoughts with the prize’s digital book club, accessing newly created online reading guides and author interviews.

This one-off award marks the culmination of their year-long 25th anniversary celebrations, including our #ReadingWomen campaign championing a quarter of a century of unforgettable winners.

Her book ultimately prevailed over a stellar-line up including Zadie Smith, the late Andrea Levy, Lionel Shriver, Ali Smith, Rose Tremain and Maggie O’Farrell, amongst others (the full list is available here). Half of a Yellow Sun originally won the Women’s Prize for Fiction (then the Orange Prize) in 2007. Set in Nigeria during the Biafran War, the novel is about the end of colonialism, ethnic allegiances, class, race and female empowerment – and how love can complicate all of these things.

Chimamanda, who is currently in Lagos, Nigeria, said: ‘I’m especially moved to be voted ‘Winner of Winners’ because this is the Prize that first brought a wide readership to my work – and has also introduced me to the work of many talented writers.’

She will be presented with a silver edition of the Prize’s annual statuette, known as the ‘Bessie’, which was originally created and donated by the artist Grizel Niven as part of the gift of an anonymous donor. An exclusive hardback special edition of Half of a Yellow Sun is also available from Waterstones.

Tickets have just gone on sale for our LIVE event with Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, in which she will talk further about her writing and being chosen for the ‘Winner of Winners’ award, hosted by Women’s Prize Founder Director Kate Mosse. Join us on Sunday 6 December at 7pm GMT.

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Arts & Culture

Video Director Prince Dovlo, Babs Direction, Nana Asihene, Yaw Skyface, Others Attend ‘The Creative Space’ Program

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One of the essential and demanded meetings for young and renowned creatives in Ghana ‘The Creative Space’ program has been held successfully in Accra.

BaseCamp Initiative – a green hub tailored for work and leisure who’s sole purpose is to provide a platform for creative expression, collaboration and leisure together with Connect 101 Agency on Sunday, November 8 held a session dubbed ‘The Creative Space’ for creatives in Ghana.

Representative of Connect 101 Agency who doubles as a film producer and director, J Willz, video director Nana Asihene, colorist Tytanium, popular music video director Yaw Skyface, Prince Dovlo, Omar El Imade, Director Abass, Director RQA, Babs Direction, Andy Madjitey and film producer Scilla Owusu were some of the speakers who adorned the program.

The well disposed gathering saw a lot of industry players particularly in the music video production sector attending – including film directors, editors, colorists, photographers, singers, filmmakers, DOPs, costume designers, music distributors, script writers, among others.

According to the organizers, the program was designed to bring out creatives in Ghana together with the sole aim of connecting and sharing ideas.

BaseCamp Initiative started in 2018 with the aim of unearthing African talent through a communal, creative hub that provides the perfect environment for collaboration, networking and leisure under the leadership of Ms. Sunita Norley Kragbe (founder).

BaseCamp Initiative is situated in a serene environment and provides members with unlimited access to the space as well as Wi-Fi, which helps members to focus on their work and be as productive as possible.

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Arts & Culture

Afro Nation Ghana Rescheduled To 2021

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Making the most of the Ghanaian capital’s lush Atlantic coastline, white sands, and year-round average temperatures of around 30°, the new festival saw the brand return to the spiritual homeland of the music that populated the lineup in 2019, The 2020 edition of Afronation Ghana – the biggest urban music beach festival in Ghana aimed at celebrating all things Afrobeats, hip-hop, Ghana Rap, reggae and dancehall has been cancelled.

“First off, we are sorry it’s taken this long to announce place for Afro Nation Ghana this year. We have been deep in talks with the authorities and partners in Ghana and as you can imagine – due to the effects of COVID-19 around the globe, we unfortunately can’t go ahead with our Afro Nation Ghana festival in 2020”, according to a statement released by the management and or organizers.

“We will be back with more information about our return to Africa in 2021, one that is going to be a celebration like no other. We already have some uniqie and exciting plans in place to return to the motherland next rear, and we cannot wait to see you all there. It is going to be special. Until then, stay safe and look after each other”, the statement added.

Ghana’s stunning coastline runs 560 kilometres from Aflao in the Volta Region to Cape Three Points in the Western Region. With an average temperature of 30 degrees in December, it’s no surprise that the festival chose this incredible location as their African festival destination. In 2019, all roads led about 20,000 music consumers, festival goers, to the Laboma Beach Resort on December 27th to celebrate different music genres at the Afro Nation festival.

Featuring wave headliners from the likes of Stonebwoy, Wizkid, Davido, Shatta Wale and Burna Boy, along with a phenomenal list of support throughout the event from artists and DJs including Yemi Alade, Teni, Becca, Kuami Eugene, Kofi Kinaata, KiDi, Naira Marley, Zlatan, The Compozers etc, festival goers were not disappointed as the event promised and delievered some of the most exciting names in afrobeats, hip hop, rnb, dancehall and bashment for your ultimate summer party.

Already establishing itself for being one of Europe’s biggest urban music beach festivals, Afro Nation let’s festival goers enjoy four days of summer rays on the beaches of Praia da Rocha with a lineup of top-class talent from across the seas.

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Arts & Culture

Pognaa Chaana To Host Us At The 100th Dumba Festival

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Former Ghana Most Beautiful contestant who represented the Upper West Region of Ghana,  Pognaa Salma Chaana Abdul Razak is inviting the world to Wa for the Dumba Festival. 

According to the Pognaa Chaana, this year’s celebration marks the 100th edition of the Festival which will commemorate on   October 29 with a tall list of cultural activities. 

In an interview with the Pognaa ( Queen of the Youth), she said, “All indigenes of the Upper West region, we encourage you to make time out of your busy schedules to take a trip back home in commemoration of this 100 years celebration of the Dumba festival. ‘Ka naga bi ayiri kyi kuli kuu dumii’ is a saying in Waale, one of our native dialects meaning  if there is a scorpion in ur hometown you must still come home for it to bite you.” 

The beauty Queen who doubles as a health practitioner, humanitarian, and an Entrepreneur also added that “to friends and family around the Globe, especially in Ghana, take a trip to the upper west region Wa, to witness this colorful and memorable festival full of merrymaking and traditional dance.  The celebration commences from October 29, 2020, to November 4,  2020.  Remember November 3, 2020 which marks the Day of celebration is the peak of it.”

“it is a pleasure to draw your attention to our Dumba festival celebration. This year marks 100 years of its celebration. A milestone indeed!!”

Aside from the beauty and colourful culture of the people of Upper West, they are noted for producing true African queens who are beautiful in and out  and are properly raised to fit perfectly well in the society and Pognaa Salma Chaana Abdul Razak cannot be left out when queens are counted. 

About Dumba Festival 

Dumba festival, which is the oldest and most popular festival  in Northern part of the country and it’s celebrated annually by Gbewaa yaansi (descendants of Naa Gbewaa – Waala, Mampurusi, Dagbamba, Nanumba, and Mossi in Burkina Faso) and our neighbours, the Gonja is to take place this year from October 29, 2020- November 4,202

In the Waala State, under the distinguished leadership of the Overlord (Wa Naa), the occasion is used to promote developmental issues in the region. 

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