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Why Women Count: Nigeria - Love of Indigo
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Why Women Count: Nigeria - Love of Indigo
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Nike Okundaye is an internationally renowned artist specializing in Adire, the traditional Yoruba indigo art from western Nigeria. She has used her craft to overcome a difficult past, and now trains disenfranchised young Nigerian women, including former sex workers in Italy.
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Camera/Sound: Dele Fadahunsi and Bode Adeyemi
Assistant Producer: Yemisi Ilo
Produced and Directed by Sandra Mbanefo Obiago
Production: Communicating for Change (CFC)

Coordinated by tve.

Learn more about the series Why Women Count.

Series supported by Sigrid Rausing Trust, the Global Opportunities Fund (FCO), UN Population Fund, UNIFEM/UN Women, and Al Jazeera English.

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Segment 1

TITLE
Why Women Count
TITLE
Love of Indigo
VOICEOVER
Nike Okundaye is an acclaimed, versatile artist of international repute, specializing in indigo art called Adire. Adire, also called "tie and dye," is traditional Yoruba textile art, originating in western Nigeria. Nike's art is celebrated far beyond Nigeria's borders. Her work is displayed in many museums including the Museum of African Art in New York. But Nike's strength and success comes from a hard life. She lost her mother at six, escaped a forced marriage at 13, and eventually triumphed over a polygamous marriage, physical abuse, and poverty. This hardship inspired her to train other women.
NIKE OKUNDAYE [Artist]
I suffered when I was growing up. I did bricklaying, and farming. There is nothing I did not do.
SIGN
Batik Studio
NIKE OKUNDAYE
Why I started that training school is because a lot of women who have been thrown out of their husband's house, they cannot get a job and nobody is allowed to accommodate them. That is why I started the training center. I provided accommodation for them to be able to live there, eat, and also do some work with their hands.
VOICEOVER
Nike's training center started in 1983 with 10 disenfranchised women. Today, she has trained over 4,000 men and women, and set up three training schools in Oshogbo, Abuja, and Ogidi Ijumu. She provides students with free tuition, art materials, and housing, and trains them in Adire, weaving, and quilting, as well as pottery, painting, music, and dance.
NIKE OKUNDAYE
I used to do a lot of workshops overseas. Any money I earned I would divide it into three: one for myself, one for my center, and one for the family and my artwork.
VOICEOVER
Currently there are 40 women doing Adire and weaving in Nike's center in Ogidi Ijumu in western Nigeria.
AGNES UMECHE [Weaving Teacher]
Before, the proceeds from farming and processing cassava were not enough for me to take care of my children with. I was only just getting by. But when I started doing this weaving I achieved something because now, in a month, if I calculate all the work that I do and the profit I make, I can earn more than USD$120. I use this profit to pay for my kids' schooling, to take care of myself and also to support my mother.
VOICEOVER
In Nigeria, where yearly earnings are barely USD$700, these women earn more than double the income of the average citizen.
TOLUPE LEWIS-TAMOKA [UNIFEM Program Specialist]
There is no doubt that when a woman can stand on her own and do things on her own she becomes empowered, she has a voice; she can make choices; she can make decisions about herself, about her reproductive rights; she can support her children to get an education, and she can also have an influence on her community because it's all the political process.
VOICEOVER
In a country where barely six percent of elected officials are women, well below the international affirmative action goal of 30 percent, Nike's empowerment is giving women the confidence to vote, especially during an election year.
AGNES UMECHE
I don't normally take bribes from anybody because tomorrow, if the elected official is there, I have a right to challenge him or her and tell them that I voted for you for a specific purpose and why haven't you fulfilled your election promises?
VOICEOVER
Nike's training has also helped illegal Nigerian immigrants in Europe. By invitation of the Italian government, Nike trained and mentored over 1,000 commercial sex workers in textile art.
NIKE OKUNDAYE
Five thousands Nigerian girls are in Italy, in Torino. A lot of them are victims. They don't know that they are going there to become a prostitute. I was teaching 120 in a day and they saw that they could make more money with this textile than the sex.
VOICEOVER
As a result of the training, many women left the streets, and the Italian authorities adopted the training program permanently. They also gave Nike a national honor. Nike's lessons in artistic enterprise have provided a voice, renewed hope, and a livelihood for marginalized women across Nigeria and the world.
TITLE
[end credits]