I am a keen follower of CNN’s programme African Voices that showcase Africans making a difference on the continent. Every now and again they throw up someone extra ordinary such as Nike Davies Okundaye. Nike is a Nigerian textile designer working to preserve traditional African textiles by passing these on to other women which in turn enables them to earn an income for themselves.
As you will see from the CNN video clips she had a tough life but has succeeded against the odds and for this I felt compelled to share her story here.
I found her story moving for several reasons. I love African textile and fabrics and wherever possible that is what I will wear. But the art of designing the textile as depicted in the documentary is dying out and I don’t doubt that this has to do with us as Africans opting for textile made elsewhere such as Dutch Wax, Austrian and French lace for which were only happy to pay a fortune. My tailor in SE London sells french lace at £300 and clearly there is a market for it and on my recent visit the textile as made by Nike was no where to be seen in his shop.
The other aspect of Nike story that moved me was the struggles she had to go through as a woman to get where she is, and the sad reality that this is still true for most African women today, being caught up in polygamous marriages and unable to for instance negotiate safe sex nor a way out of such marriages mostly due to lack of financial Independence.
Watch her story and be inspired but above all join the discussion
What can we as Africans do to improve things for women in Africa?