Nairobi will on October 1-29, host a citywide Nigerian Festival to coincide with the country’s National Day marked on October 1.
Events will be held at the Nairobi Gallery, the National Museums of Kenya and at the Alliance Francaise.
Alliance Francaise will be the main venue of an exhibition of African textiles from the African Heritage House from October 9-29, a return of the legendary African Heritage Night.
Musician Papillon will also be launching his new album titled Heart of Africa on October 26 at the same venue.
During the course of the festival, there will be lectures and appearances at various venues by famed Nigerian female artist Nike Seven Seven Okundaye, who has devoted her life to preserving and protecting Nigeria’s rich textile heritage.
Alan Donovan, who founded African Heritage and held the first Nigerian Festival in Nairobi in 1972, will be in charge of the exhibition that will show his Nigerian art collection.
“I have over 100 artworks, so this is one of the largest exhibitions of Nigerian art in the country,” he said.
The collection will be displayed at the three official festival locations and will feature works by pioneering artists of Nigeria, largely from the town of Oshogbo, western Nigeria, where in 1967, Donovan first saw Oshogbo art.
“This collection of art from Nigeria is an archival collection that has been curated for me by Nike Seven Seven Okundaye, one of the continent’s foremost female artists, and only made possible because of the relationship I have had with the Oshogbo artists over the past 50 years.”
Also expected at the festival is acclaimed Nigerian artist Bruce Onobrakpeya, a master printmaker, who took part in Donovan’s First Nigerian Festival in 1972 and then returned to Nairobi to open the new Pan African Gallery at the African Heritage in 1973.
The artists on exhibition
Other artists whose work will be on show are: Jimoh Buraimoh, from Oshogbo, who is internationally renowned for his pioneering use of glass beads mixed with oil paints; Muraina Oyelami, who still uses a roller to layer his art; Jacob Afolabi, the late Rufus Ogundele, and Adebisi Fambunmi who uses strong black lines filled in with pastels or bright colours based on Yoruba mythology.
The work of the late Asiru Olatunde, a blacksmith, who rolled out panels of hammered metals based on Yoruba lore will also feature.
The most flamboyant artist to be exhibited will be the late Twins Seven Seven. He introduced a creative form of art presenting a universe populated by Yoruba spirituality. He died in 2011 but his style continues to influence artists.
Okundaye, who was one of Twins Seven Seven’s wives, will give lectures on African textiles and make appearances at the festival venues.
She learnt the art of traditional weaving and dying while growing up in Ogidi, Nigeria and through collaborative work with her husband, became one of the leading female African artists.
Okundaye has devoted her life to rehabilitating, preserving and restoring the textile heritage of the Yoruba, especially the Adire (tie and dye) indigo cloth.
This cloth is wholly made by women, who paint the cloth with palm fronds or feathers dipped in cassava starch before dipping it in the rich blue-black indigo dye. The only work done by men is the making of stencils from zinc for etching patterns.
Okundaye’s paintings are permanently displayed at the Smithsonian National Museum of African Art in the US and in the national collections of the UK.