Thursday, 20 June 2013

Different faces of Ada Dike (Me and my humble self)

After the day's work, I decided to share some of my pictures to my fans and friends.
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KCee, now MTN Ambassador

 Kingsley Okonkwo, popularly known as KCee has joined other A-list stars as an ambassador for telecoms giant, MTN. The Limpopo crooner signed a one year endorsement deal with MTN today. 
Former Member Of KC Presh before he went solo. His singles Okpekete Master and Limpopo surely wakes anyone that is reluctant to shake head to jump up and dance wherever these songs are being played. Congratulations to KCee!

John Mikel Obi moves to Galatasaray from Chelsea


 Nigerian international footballer, John Mikel Obi is will soon move to Galatasaray from Chelsea. The Super Eagles mid fielder revealed this to Sabah, a daily Turkish newspaper that the Turkey football club made an offer that he's very pleased with and is looking forward to life in Istanbul.

In his wors: "I asked Drogba for advice and he told me that Istanbul is a fantastic city, that Galatasaray is a huge club and that I have to make the move. I have played at Chelsea for a long time and it's now time for me to leave. I'm still only 26 and it's great to receive an offer from a club (Galatasaray) playing Champions League football and doing well in the competition," he said. 
Furthermore he said: "Talks have reached an advanced level between Chelsea and Galatasaray. Chelsea won't make the move difficult and regarding my salary there won't be a problem. All that is left is for the clubs to reach an agreement." Congratulations to Obi!

My life revolves around Art -Nike Okundaye


ADA DIKE met Chief Mrs. Nike Davies Okundaye’s who has devoted her life to provide an opportunity for aspiring artists, craftsmen, women to explore their talents.

When Chief Mrs. Nike Davies Okundaye set out to learn how to dye cloths and weave fabrics, she didn’t know what it would result to in future.
Born on May 23, 1951, she lost her mother at the age of six and went to live with her grandmother who died the following year so she went to stay with her great grandmother who was the head of fabric weaving association in their village in Ogidi Ijumu in Kogi State. From there, she learnt how to weave and dye fabrics (Adire).
She recalls how she became the originator of Batik in Africa. “One day, there was no electricity at night, so I lit a candle I got from our church while preparing a fabric I wanted to dye. A melted wax dropped on my fabric, so that part came out brighter and beautiful. That was how I started using wax to do batik. From there, I started drawing designs on the fabric which I used to do on the floor using a broom. I also used a needle and crochet thread to knit table cloths which reverend sisters bought at six kobo each and put in the altar of a Catholic Church in my village,” she said.
Life was indeed tough for her, but the woman with cool and calm demeanour knows how to turn every situation in her favour. “I was doing a labourer job of using planks to carry sands and we licked the sandy water that was dripping from the sand and used it as a chocolate. I later got a job as a baby sitter for an Indian family because I passed the test of cleaning their house which I learnt from home using cow dung to scrub our mud house to avert dust. I was paid one pound per month from which I fed, bought dresses and paid my sibling’s school fees.
“The Indians made a blouse for me to wear and I had to bathe three times in a day so that I won’t stain their baby. I enjoyed that job because I became clean and healthy. From Kogi, the Indian family I was living with took me on a tour and took me to Osogbo, Osun State, though one of my mother’s sisters was living there as tie and dye (Adire) maker who I also learnt a bit of Adire from when I lived with her for some time.
“Out of curiousity, one day, I went to Osun Groove to look at the river and fell in love with the work of Mama Susanne Wenger of blessed memory. I told myself, “This is a place I belong. If a white woman could do this, why shouldn’t we?” I approached her and told her that I want to learn from her but she told me that art is not what one can use the other person’s hand to draw. She welcomed me and took me through the rudiment of practical art. From there, I expanded and set up my workshops and gallery,” she explained.
Nike with some women
Though she did not have formal education, she has two doctorate degrees from schools in the United States of America –one for planting a tree in her compound in 1995 which has grown and it is giving shades around her house. The second is on performance art. “I am also a singer and dancer too.”
Her vision for opening art centres in Osogbo, with branches in Lagos, Abuja and Ogidi Ijumu is to promote artists, empower rural women and provide training opportunities for those interested in learning the practical aspect of art. “Artists are happy to see their works displayed in my gallery. Each artist works with a spirit that drives him. We don’t see what they are seeing till they are through with their works.”
She adds: I also encourage children to discover their talents. School children from different schools do visit my gallery every Monday and I normally give them pencils and papers to draw designs of their choice. Sometimes, from 100 students we may get 30 students who can draw well. So we focus on the art inclined ones from the age of nine and give them materials to work with till they become experts.”
Her Lagos art gallery has become a tourists’ centre. “We do inventory every year. At present we have more than 7000 artworks in my gallery in Lagos but not all of them are for sale. A lot of them are displayed for Nigerians and tourists to see the creativity in Nigeria just like in museums abroad. People pay money to enter museums abroad but we do not collect money in my gallery because it is a foundation and it is a dream that came to fruition,” she revealed.
Their prices are cheap. “With N500, you can buy something from us. Buyers determine the price of an artwork.”
Okundaye is keen to point out that she does not make money in Nigeria. “I actually make money outside Nigeria. I do workshop in many countries. This year, I have been to Austria, France and Spain, that is the only way I succeed with my work, but I derive joy and satisfaction of doing it in Nigeria. I want to leave the gallery as a legacy after my death. I have tried my best to involve government but it seems that art is the last thing that they would want to pay attention to because it does not bring money immediately. They don’t know that it is a long term investment.
“In South Africa, artists have a strong association. They are financed and supported by their government. I really want government to come in and help us so that tourists will be attracted to come here and see our rich heritage. I want the Federal Government to help us in the maintenance of the gallery. Tourists that visit Nigeria may not want to see a shopping complex or five star hotel but creativity. I want the Federal Government to put money in the ministry of Art and Culture so that we can have street art and heritage sites like Adire site in Abeokuta, Ogun State, Indigo site in Osogbo, Osun State and bigger dye pits in Kano,” she appealed.
When asked if she faces challenges due to the enormous work she does, she quips: “I pay heavy tax for my gallery despite the fact that it is a foundation to help artists and art lovers. I work here with my husband, daughter and cousin because I don’t have enough resources to pay other staff. I hired a security man, driver and a cleaning firm but we do all other jobs by ourselves to minimise cost.
“Travelling every weekend to Osun State to bring in new thing and tutor people on industrial training is also challenging. I provided accommodation for them and ensure that whoever comes to learn have a good stay. We also need sponsors to help us to print books so that we will distribute them to children in schools. It costs me a lot of money to do that.
“Funding has been my major challenge so I hereby appeal to individuals, private and public organisations to come to my aid. I know that government cannot do everything for us but I want them to assist us in any way they can.”
When she was asked to predict what art as a profession in Nigeria would be like in the next 10 years, she cuts in: “With the help of the Ministry for Arts and Culture, Nigeria will be known as African art depot in the next 10 years. We have about 30,000 registered artists in Nigeria which is quite intimidating compared with other countries. I am sure that the unregistered artists are more in number than the registered ones.”
Despite the challenges she is facing, what has proved interesting to her is people’s appreciation and encouragement which drive her on. “Special people and organisation that have been very supportive to my work include Omooba Yemisi Shyllon, Mrs. Ajoke Murtala, Nigerian Stock Exchange (NSE) and so on. I derived my inspiration through the happiness people exhibit when they have an encounter with me or appreciate what I am doing. This gallery enables Nigerians to learn and develop their cultural heritage.”
Nike with some women
Concerning her future plans, she wants to turn the training centre at Osogbo to a school. “I want more women to join in this job because it is interesting and you can stay in your parlour or backyard to do it. I need an art school in Osogbo and Lagos but the fund to set up these schools is not available.
 “I feel disappointed when I am asked to pay the same tax with companies that are making millions of Naira per month. They are some weeks we don’t even make up to N50. 00 here despite high cost in maintain our generator and other things.”
Nike cites the likes of Mama Susanne Wenger and her late ex-husband, Prince Twins Seven Seven, born Prince Taiwo Olaniyi Oyewale-Toyeje Oyelale Osuntoki among her influences. She was mentored by her great grandmother who pioneered her training. “In her time, art was done as a hobby and for pleasure and that is what I take it to be.” 
Despite her disappointment, her greatest achievement is the present conditions of many women and artists who have passed through her centres from the 1970s till date. “Some of them have trained their children to university levels, live in their personal houses and are now rich. I am happy to see them becoming successful and rich. It can be likened to turning an ash to treasure.
“I am glad that I changed the dressing pattern of many artists in Osogbo who where hitherto dressing like rastafarians, leaving their beards bushy and rough.”
 She points out that: “Artwork is a therapy. If you see a work in which a mother is carrying her baby, it means love and warmness. If you look at an artwork, you would forget your problem. I am surprised that people have a belief that there is a spirit in an artwork, especially, the sculptures. Someone can give a dog a bad name in order to kill it.”
Nike is happily married to a retired commissioner of police, Mr. Okundaye, who she met in Osun State and they are blessed with a child but she has children from her previous marriages. She described her husband as a very supportive and caring man.
The cool and calm woman who is on a mission to reposition Nigeria and indeed Africa’s rich culture in people’s minds advises young artists in Nigeria: “Be honest in anything you do. Whatever you are doing, do it well. Let your work advertise your name. Market yourself in a good way. When you make money, save for the rainy day. Divide it into three parts-for your needs, family, then save the third part for your future. Above all, pass the knowledge to your children. Spanish painter and sculptor, Pablo Picasso was not a millionaire before he died but his works are now in many countries.”

I feel fulfilled -Ara


Over the years, Aralola Olumuyiwa has mastered the skills and expertise of playing the talking drum. Popularly called Ara, the amiable and energetic entertainer has added more feathers to her crown by acting in movies and soaps recently. In an encounter with ADA DIKE, this songwriter, choreographer, singer, producer and businesswoman talks about her career, failed marriage and other sundries.
 ‘Ara’ means "mystery or wonder" - a name given to her by her grandfather at birth. Aralola Olumuyiwa was born in Lagos to Alhaji and Alhaja Olamuyiwa from Ondo State.
The first female talking drummer was quite popular when she was growing up so she knew that she would make it in life but did not know how big she would be.
 Aralola started her musical career when she was very young. The moment she knew her left from right, everything around their house was a drum to her and she used to tell her mother that she wanted to be like Diana Ross and Michael Jackson. 
In her words: “I started composing music when I was seven years old. Then, my father got me a keyboardist who was playing for me.  When I was 12 years old, I took ill and was admitted in a hospital. After I spent two weeks in the hospital without improvement, the doctor that was treating me asked my parents to take me home. My father then reminded me on my sick bed that, “If you die, you cannot become Michael Jackson.” Miraculously, it became a turning point for my life. Here I am today, 25 years after, I am still running. My father who was then a Senior Manager of United Bank for Africa in Akure, Ondo State fulfilled his promise by contacting a producer of a Radio programme, ‘Talent Hunt’ and I participated in it. I also appeared on a television programme and later did about four songs. I rehearsed with a church band then and used to perform for UBA staff every end of the year.
“I tried my hands on different types of music including afro-beat.  In the late 1990s, I got my breakthrough as an Afro-beat artiste from Femi Lasode’s Even Ezra Studios in Lagos. In the year 2000, I joined Atunda ENT, an artiste management company in Nigeria which I worked with until 2007.
I have taken my music across the world and have played in many African countries, the United Kingdom, France and many states in the United States of America. I have performed before the Queen of England and have also performed alongside big names in the global entertainment industry including; Wyclef Jean, Wesley Snipes and the legendary Stevie Wonder,” the drummer said.
There is a belief that women are forbidden to play a talking drum in public, what inspired you to be a female talking drummer? She was asked:  I started with a traditional drum like konga. I was the head of our cultural group right from my primary school days, always singing or drumming. The talking drum came afterwards and it was more of fascination because I was more like a tomboy when I was growing up. I am number seven out of nine children- five males and four females. My sisters were away so I grew in the midst of males, I was rebellious, troublesome and the CNN of the house.
“My brothers loved Rhythm and Blues, my uncle loved juju and my father would ask me to dance for them and he would spray me money. With my cousins, we used to do dancing competition in our house and I always won.
As time went on, I became interested in South African music and my exposure to Ogunde’s music also helped me. The interest on the talking drum came along the way and I decided to play it. It was difficult for me to get people to teach me. I bought some compact discs and listened to them. That was it!” she explained.
The genre of her music is Gongofusion.  She talks about it: “It is a new genre I created, trying to export talking drum. Though, it has already been exported but the angle of a female drummer is going to be taken in a different form and it simply means that whatever genre of music I find myself in, the talking drum must take the lead and must be highly recognized.”
Asked how she copes with challenges that go on in musical career, the first female drummer said:Everyone has got one or two challenges. I am a go-getter. If I want to get something, I get it without looking back. The challenges normally come but I always overcome them.”
She does not feel challenged by the emergence of other female talking drummers becauseI am a pacesetter. I started it all. The well of creativity that I draw from is unique. I keep reinventing myself. They can’t be me. For example, Ayanbinrin does the traditional aspect of talking drumming while mine is cosmopolitan. Coincidentally, I and Ayanbinrin are from the same Ondo town. She did her awards and stage show late last year while I was abroad and honoured me with an award. I appreciate her the way I am being appreciated.
"I feel fulfilled. I feel so honoured knowing well that after I started playing the talking drum, other women picked it up. It is legendary and I feel happy that my name has gone into the history as the first woman to do this,” Ara explained.
Her perception about Nigerian music industry proved that it is fast evolving.
“Even though we have a lot of people singing and recording video today, we know those who are musicians among them. Musicians are doing well while the upcoming ones are also good. It is just a matter of time. It is high time organizations who can manage talents take over the industry.”
In terms of re-branding,I am doing a lot of things at the moment, so expect something new. I am currently working on rebranding my image not only as a performer but as an entertainer of international standard.  It’s a big possibility if I want to release two albums at once but because my very loyal fans have waited and stood by me all this while, we will bring out something that will make them happy.
“I am recording, and of course, everybody knows that and they are asking: “When is the album going to be released?” I am tired of saying it is coming out at this point in time, I am assuring them to expect it soon because I am celebrating my 25 years on stage very soon. I also have a seven-track gospel album I recorded during my trying period and these songs will bless a lot of people.
“Presently, I am into a lot of things. I am a businesswoman, I recently opened a boutique at Ajao Estate, Braids clinic along Isolo-Mushin Road and I am working on my bar and restaurant in Lekki, all in Lagos.  I have employees working for me. I eat out a lot often. As a good cook, I always like to experiment what I ate outside so that my customers will enjoy it. I divested to secure my future. The production of my first movie has commenced. It is titled Osun Funke, which means “River Goddess has given me a child to care for.”
Asked if she has any relationship a river goddess, she laughed and said: “No, I don’t worship a river goddess, but people refer to me as a goddess because they believe that what I do is beyond natural and they believe that my ancestors sent me to impact my world and empowered me with some spiritual powers which I am yet to see. People assume a lot of things when they don’t know anything about you.
“I choose Osun Funke as the title for the movie because the movie is centered on the sight and sounds of Osun State, especially its arts, culture and tourism. It is based on the story of Arugba, a ceremony that takes place during the Osun Osogbo festival. Osun Funke hailed from the prestigious Arugba family, unfortunately for her, she was raped so she could not carry the sacred calabash that year and her younger sister carried it. The story goes on from there.”
This kind of movie will cost multi-million naira. The graduate of English from Ambrose Alli University, Ekpoma, Edo State, said: “It is a joint venture between Osun State Government and me because they believe in Ara as a talent and as a person. They also believe that I can help to promote culture and tourism of their state. Hopefully, the movie will be premièred before this year’s Osun Osogbo festival and we will be travelling with it to Europe, America and Asia. There will be ‘Ara in Concert’ during the première of this movie. From there, it will be available at the cinemas across Nigeria. Done in Yoruba Language, the movie featured many popular Yoruba actors including Odunlade Adekola, Saheed Balogun, Alhaji Kareem Adepoju a.k.a.Baba Wande, Peju Ogunmola and so on. Initially, we wanted to work with Ramsey Nouah but could not due to his busy schedule.
I planned to make more movies. I wrote the story of  Osun Funke and  I am playing the lead, that is, the river goddess.  It was scripted by Tunde Babalola. After Osun Funke, I also have two other movies and a television series to be released. The TV series is about an Ondo girl who came to Lagos, started from the scratch and gradually climbed the ladder of success.  We Ondo people are articulate but stubborn. This particular one is a character to behold, she is influential but not as she claimed to be. It will address a lot of societal issues including politics, marriage and school. I am playing the lead role of the local girl with a heavy accent,” she revealed
She mentioned rape in Osun Funke, so she was asked if she has been raped before. “Rape is something that is rampant in our society. It is a sensitive issue and we are in an environment where the woman who is the victim is blamed for being raped and the man who perpetrates this heinous act goes unpunished. I want to use this movie to address the issue of rape. I know I can’t fight it alone but in my own way, I want to do something about it. It happens every day, especially in the rural areas. A lot of young girls are being raped including boys. I will speak elaborately about rape in a book I am writing.”

Many women find it very hard to cope with career and motherhood. On what drives her on, Ara said:Aside my busy schedule as a single mother, I have to be home to take care of my son so I balance it all very well. I get my motivation and inspiration from the spiritual realm because everything that happens around me is spiritual. I get inspiration from God, nature and the happenings around me. I also get inspired by my five years old son. I see a lot of things from his eyes and it’s a privilege to learn from a child.
My son is my greatest achievement. He is protective of me and still sleeps on my chest. We normally discuss a lot of things together. I don’t shun him because I want him to learn a lot of things from me. He played Bank W in my new video.”
Marriages have come and gone most especially celebrities’ marriages which have always been in the full glare of the public and people always like to know what is happening in their homes. Ara is bold to say that: “I was highly disappointed when my marriage broke up. I felt disappointed because many things were wrong that couldn’t be corrected. I was disappointed when I left my former record label, Atunda ENT. I left without a dime and later discovered how they used me to make money for seven years I worked with them. Though, I met a lot of good people through them, but I was down career or financial wise.
On how she has been coping after she parted ways with her ex husband
Prince Nurudeen Olalekan Saliu, the amiable lady said: “I thank God for my upbringing and I thank God that I have a good relationship with God. Temptation has been there left and right even as a married woman but I did not fail. How much more now that I am single? I can’t go out there and mess around. I am not saying I have not dated anyone or I am not dating anyone presently. I am a one man one woman person, it does not matter what my man is doing.
“If it had been about my ex dating other women out there, it wouldn’t have been enough reason for me to quit the marriage but there were other issues. He was battering me. He has learnt his lesson I think he is a better person now.”
When a celebrity’s marriage fails, people assume it is due to her popularity and arrogance. She vividly condemns that notion. “That is very wrong. We manage success differently. I didn’t stumble on it because my success was predestined. Due to my upbringing, there is no way success will get into my head. My ex can attest to the fact that I cooked his meals and washed his clothes. I bent down as a sign of respect when I served him meals. He is a prince so I treated him as such. As an Ondo woman, we know how to take care of our men. We are like the Calabar women in Cross River State, we know how to cook. I can only speak for myself. I was humble to him.”
Has he come to beg you to return? She was asked: “He has apologized to me but I told him that I can’t return because eight months after we separated, he had a baby boy from another woman. I am told he is no longer with that lady. He has another wife so there is no way I can go back to him, though people are persuading me to go back. I would have considered going back to him because I believe he has learnt his lesson but I won’t.  I think he has learnt how to manage his anger afterwards. Recently, he told me that I am a good woman and he asked me if there is a way I could accept him back but I refused. We talk because we have a son. I am vindicated.”
Ara refused to reveal who she is dating presently or when they are getting married. (Laughs), “I won’t talk about that. I am dating someone and he treats me like a queen. He loves me unconditionally, trusts me and allows me to be me, so I am happy. He also loves my son. We have a lot in common and we both have a good relationship with God. What more can I ask from him? She queried.
To her, motherhood is beautiful and she is enjoying every bit of it. “It is not an impediment to my career. It has inspired me to be better and given me a new reason to live. I have learnt a lot of things from my son.”
Many people may be surprised to hear that Ara is not a club or party person; “I only go to party if I am going to perform there. I don’t like night life but I get pulled out once in a while. I am happier when I go to a beach.”
She was asked to choose fame or fortune.I will choose fortune because money answers all things. With money I can establish myself; nobody uses fame to collect money in a bank.” 
She carries a unique hairstyle when performing on stage. She explains how she came about it:I loved Indian movies when I was a child. I loved their long hair so the first thing that came to my mind when it was time for me to choose identity was to be like Sunita. If I had used weavon, I wouldn’t have got a long one that would fit my taste. That’s why I went for the very unusual long braid. It takes time and patience but it is worth the while at the end of the day because my fans love it.
“I use six packs to make it and the braiding lasts for 20 hours because it’s done by five people. They come to my house to do it.”
She watches Nigerian movies and comedy when she is relaxing. Nelson Mandela and Oprah Winfrey are her role models.
To her fans, she said:New opportunities abound. Believe in yourself. Don’t severe your relationship with your God. Love your neighbor as yourselves, which is the greatest commandment.”
Do unto others as you would want them do unto you,” is her philosophy of life.