By Funke Babs-Kufeji & Konye Chelsea Nwabogor
Gone are the days where Nigerians turned up their noses at any product that wasn’t foreign. The magnificent growth and development of the creative industry in Nigeria has skyrocketed in terms of quality and service of their products which has earned them their rightful place on the global stage. Nigerians, in recent times, have become proud ambassadors of the creative juices of its people. So much so that many ‘Made in Nigeria’ brands have caught the attention of the international market and taken the world at large, by storm!
From Art to Music, from Design to Furniture, there is a huge demand from both local and international market. This development has attracted several benefits to the country including an increase in its Gross Domestic Product, generation of employment opportunities and reduction in the cost of production.
Now more than ever, new entrepreneurs are springing up in different industries providing cutting-edge products that many are willing to give up imported goods in its replacements.
This week, STYLE pays homage to some of the players in these various sectors and give them accolades for promoting the Nigerian culture and talent and also planting its footprints firmly on the global village.
Nigeria filled with more than 250 ethnic groups, has one of the richest cultures globally, with Art being one of the country’s mediums of expression. Nigerian Art takes you into a world heavily explored by stone, wood and glass carvings, pottery, wire works, metal works, paintings, and more. The average Nigerian sees their country’s Art as deep, distinctive, and Afrocentric and have realized it’s part of what we have to help keep our culture alive. Many art lovers have widely recognized the last two decades as the Nigerian art renaissance, thanks to a homegrown appreciation for indigenous Art, artists and a healthy market boom. Now Nigerian Art is a pride of its people and the rest of Africa. Many artists are making their marks in Nigeria and the rest of the world, but here are a few that on our radar, making Nigeria proud.
Nike Davies-Okundaye needs little or no introduction. Many readily identify her as the speaker who has given many lectures in Ivy league schools but has no formal education. Teaching herself English after dropping out of school after her sixth form, Nike has risen above many challenges like child marriage, menial jobs, among others, to find success in the Art industry.
Fondly referred to as “Mama Nike”, she is one of Nigeria’s foremost Batik and Adire artists and designer. She is the most prominent curator of Art in Nigeria and owns the prestigious Nike Art Gallery in the heart of Lagos in Lekki; and also is the founder of Nike Art and Culture Centre in Lagos, Abuja Kogi and Osun.
Dotun is a synergetic metal sculptor who has carved a niche with his hyper-realistic monumental metal sculptures. Through intricate hybrid sculpture techniques, he shows the endless possibilities in metal scraps, bronze and related materials, manipulating them into realistic forms of everyday life, most especially animals.
Popoola sees himself as an agent of change, a tool for social review. He considers his work an opportunity to address the lack of environmental consciousness, waste management and infrastructural decay, and his famous work is fast becoming a collector’s item of art lovers in Nigeria and globally.
Abinoro is a Nigerian multidisciplinary artist, but the work he is most renowned for is his larger-than-life sculptures made from a rather unusual material, spoons.
Akoprode renowned artworks came about after being challenged by his art lecturer to create a sculpture using unconventional materials. This project brought about the birth of magnificent sculptures made out of spoons, metal chains and junk materials.
His love for Art was inspired by his father’s belief that artists were less successful in life. This drove him to make his art count and use it as a universal language of communication, documentation, education and peace.
Akporode’s prolific painting and sculptor draws inspiration from his environment, human and animal figures. He often tries to convey human experience and deep soul content in his Art. His immediate desire is to use his work to pass deep messages and and address everyday issues.
Fashion designing has grown in leaps and bounds in Nigeria. In the past, buying clothes from foreign labels was the norm. Still, even with the emergence of talented designs and fashion labels, Nigeria’s fashion industry has grown in size and sophistication, attracting global attention.
People worldwide, including international celebrities, have been spotted wearing Nigerian clothing – both traditional and contemporary. Several fashion shows held in New York, London, Paris, and Milan have featured pieces with Nigerian influences. The fashion industry in Nigeria plays an important cultural role and contributes significantly to the country’s economy, and more Nigerians have fully embraced the ‘Buy Nigeria, Grow Nigeria’ slogan.
Many Designers are exporting Nigeria to the world, here are a few of the various brands making an impact with their traditional use of Nigerian fabric to create lasting pieces that stand out.
Ré_lagos is a fashion brand created by Orire Omatshola. The brand is revered for its use of the unique traditional African threading and Kohbaslot technique, which is an intricate and highly textured embroidery technique originally devised by the Creole people of Sierra Leone.
The Re-Lagos predominantly minimal design compromises of meticulously thought out, and highly conceptual foundation. It focuses on easy shapes that allow the fabrics and colours take precedence over everything else.
It harnesses strong textiles and experiments with various types of fabric development techniques pulling inspiration from nature, history, mythology and global contemporary visual art.
Emmy Kasbit is a Fashion brand founded by Okoro Emmanuel. Sustainability, culture and the preservation of culture are at the very heart of the Emmy Kasbit design. It engages with local artisans to bring traditional staples to the modern age with the use of indigenous fabrics mixed with sartorial classics. Over the years, the brand has grown immensely, boasting a solid clientele and showcasing at some of the biggest fashion shows in Africa.
Founded by Mfon Ogbonna in 2015, Idma-Nof is a Lagos, Nigeria-based womenswear brand emphasising quality, craftsmanship, and bold, colourful aesthetics.
The label’s strives for originality by blending Art, fashion and craftsmanship in new and exciting ways to make a bold statement with every piece designed. The brand is also heavily influenced by the vibrant and colourful African/ Nigerian heritage, making it stand out as one of Nigeria’s most sought-after fashion brands.
Our fashion industry is so obsessed with clothing that we almost forget that every good outfit cannot stand without the right accessory. Until recently, we had to depend on foreign brands to meet our need for accessories like shoes, bag slippers, chains and more. But that era has passed, and vibrant young accessory designers are wading into that space and shaking things up, churning out locally made shoes, bags, slippers, ties, cufflinks, earrings and necklaces using the best of locally sourced leather, beads, fabrics and more.
Furniture making has become a lucrative business in Nigeria. The boom of the furniture came about following the ban on the importation of furniture in 2004 to ensure the industry improved. From there, the furniture-making business grew and has made steady progress since. This had brought in furniture makers who create astonishing pieces using scraps and indigenous materials like used tyres, Ankara fabric, metals and cane to make all kinds of furniture pieces. This industry is now a thriving market as Nigerias have come to appreciate the creativity and uniqueness of Made in Nigeria furniture.
Nigeria does have a slew of great music talents and a very vibrant urban music scene. Songs by our indigenous artists enjoy so much rotation on
radio and television stations across the continent. Even beyond that, it is fair to say that Music has become a cultural export for the West African
nation, and this has made a lot of acts household names across the continent and beyond. Among them, these three are currently doing us proud as they continue to put Nigerian Music on the world map.
From his breakout hit, way back in 2010, “Holla At Your Boy” to his recently released track “Essence” (featuring Tems), Ayodeji Ibrahim Balogun, popularly known as Wizkid, continually gives us reason to
crown him number one on the scene. Although some might beg to differ, there’s no arguing that he has not only earned a comfortable spot at the top but also gone ahead to conquer global dominance.
In 2011, he won a MOBO award for the Best African Act and took home a BET Award prize in 2012 for Africa’s Best International Act. The star also
has several nominations for the MTV European Music Awards under his belt.
Tems, short for Temilade Openiyi, is fast becoming a household name in Nigeria and globally. Her Essence remix with Wizkid got a lot of attention on the international music scene and has recently earned her a spot in Drakes’s album. There is something about her music that is different from the everyday
music we know. She has a stand out vibe that completely hits you the first time you hear her sound. Her first hit song, “Try Me”, currently has over eight million views on Youtube.
It only took Burna Boy a few years to achieve what most of his contemporaries couldn’t achieve in so many years. He stormed the music industry in 2010 and eventually worked his way to the top after two
years, carving a niche for himself as one of Nigeria’s fast-rising stars to watch out for. Several years later, he hasn’t disappointed us. Now a grammy awards winner, his fans include Beyoncé, who featured a
solo Burna Boy song on her album full of collaborations, “The Lion King: The Gift”. Sam Smith, who shares a single with him as singer and co-
writer. And when the 2020 Grammy Award for world music went to Angelique Kidjo, a three-time previous winner, over Burna Boy and “African Giant,” she held up the trophy and dedicated it to Burna Boy,
praising him as a young African artist who is “changing the way our continent is perceived.”