On Sunday, May 23, 2021, GAC Motors hosted a grand reception to commemorate the 70th birthday celebration of Chief Nike Veronica Davies-Okundaye, an iconic Nigerian designer, art enthusiast and creative industry veteran.
The iconic avant-garde artist and her outstanding works have significantly impacted on the art industry by positively showcasing Nigerian arts and culture locally and abroad over the last six decades.
The event featured an inaugural award ceremony, the Art Iconia Award, focused on recognising and appreciating the unique contributions of creative industry veterans who have dedicated their life’s work and artistic expression towards the advancement of their industry. The narrative-redefining award is set to hold annually and will reset the prevalent culture of posthumous celebrations.
In partnership with the Lagos State Government, GAC Motors headlined Davies-Okundaye’s birthday celebration in a classy affair powered by leading International branding and PR agency, Del-York International.
The Lagos State Governor, Babajide Sanwo-Olu, graced the event held at Eko Hotels and Suites, Victoria Island. He paid eloquent tribute to the celebrant’s distinguished legacy by presenting her with a surprise birthday gift; a brand new GAC GN8. Davies-Okundaye is the first owner of the high-end luxury Multipurpose Vehicle (MPV) model in Lagos.
Sanwo-Olu, who is actively investing in the state’s creative industry, reiterated his vision for the industry’s growth and the importance of venerating those who have made significant contributions to the Nigerian development story. “Nikky Mama,” as he fondly calls her, is a glaring example of such promise.
The governor further said, “We are grateful for your life and your personal commitment to the emancipation of women; to your very creative deeds that you have done, but more importantly, for the youth, through your entrepreneurial and economic empowerment activities.”
Also in attendance were the Osun State governor, Alhaji Adegboyega Oyetola with his wife, Kafayat; Professor Wole Soyinka, the celebrant’s husband, Chief Reuben Okundaye, the Deputy Consulate General of the American Embassy, Ross Conroy, the vice-chancellor of the University of Lagos, Professor Oluwatoyin Ogundipe, Pastor Ituah Ighodalo, Amaju Pinick, Elegushi of Ikateland, Oba Saheed Ademola Elegushi, Idahosa and Stephanie Linus, among others.
The event’s headliner, GAC Motors, represented by the Chairman and Chief Host, Chief Diana Chen, who presented a gift from the Chinese embassy to Mama Nike, described her as a leader who is committed to promoting the Nigerian culture across the globe.
The governor of Osun State commended Davies-Okundaye, saying that her passion for the art, specifically the Osogbo textile tradition, has inspired her to elevate and immensely impact the art industry in Osun State.
According to him, “I think of her as an innovator, who, through her innovativeness, has captured our imagination uniquely and has redefined the use of art and craft to project our resourcefulness as a people. Through her brilliant adire works that breathe the finest artistry of the Osogbo and Yoruba tradition, she has brought immense global recognition to us. She has opened an array of possibilities for many of our young people.”
The ICONIA event wonderfully exhibited select masterpiece artworks and structures from Mama Nike’s Art Gallery. Other experiential exposés by foremost air conditioning brand Gree AC alongside Lontor Hi-Tech, a top rechargeables manufacturer in Nigeria, were also displayed.
Nobel Laureate and friend to Davies-Okundaye, Professor Wole Soyinka, expressed that meeting her was a wonderful and stimulating event. He also commended Chief Diana for having an eye for artistic talent.
In his words, “Like all good business people, she knows a good thing when she sees it.”
The Deputy Consulate General of the US Embassy, Ross Conroy, described Davies-Okundaye as renowned and ever-impressive. He also commended her for being committed to promoting prosperity, unity, and the preservation of culture through art. He added that “The US Consulate in Lagos is proud of her contributions, given that she’s an alumnus of the International Visitor Leadership Program in 1974.”
The Olojodu of Ido-Osun, Oba Architect Adedapo Aderemi, who gifted Mama Nike, a royalty staff, showed his immense appreciation for her contribution to attaining the fifth Sustainable Development Goal: Gender Equality and Women’s Empowerment.
Chief Reuben Okundaye, Mama Nike’s husband, described her as a loving, caring, and hardworking wife. He also said that she loves people and helps them, even to her displeasure.
GAC Motor has been at the forefront of the creative and sports industries in Nigeria. The fast-growing automobile brand continues to hold promise for the future of the Nigerian creative industry.