These paintings were inspired by the culture and way of life of my country, Nigeria. It also aims at giving courage to those who do not feel confident in their native names, to own it and to not be ashamed.
Call me by my native name
Sing my songs of praise as I gyrate my shoulders to the rhythm of your poetry
Say my oríkì and let me feel proud of who I am
As my round cheeks lift in delight
Let me adjust my iro as the onilu drums in tune to sound of your praise
Let me smile as I feel a oneness in hearing the rest of the laters accompanying the A of my oríkì
Sing my name, with a smile
Àjike, jike ke o jike jike ke
And let me feel cared for.
Let my name fall like honey from lips
Let my eyes glitter with joy, as you say my name with a smile
Let my beads clatter against my breasts as I bow my hide to hide my blush
Call me by my native name one more time
Ifunanya omalicha nwa asampete
HAUWA & MINA (2021)
Lately, the feeling of wanting to go back to back to being a child once again comes on stronger than ever. Whilst looking for a muse for the last act in the “Call Me by My Native Name series”, I came across a beautiful archive (Nigerian Nostalgia Project) filled with photos from 1850s to 1980s. The image of 3 young girls posing for the camera stuck out to me the most, and I couldn’t resist painting it.
As we get older, we forget to be a child sometimes, to let a little love and joy bring light to our darkened expressions, or play , dance around however awkward it may seem to others. The feeling of knowing you’ll be taken care of, or be guided, be nurtured, be neglected but still trust, to love unabashedly, to speak up, to feel insecure, to ask questions, to laugh more, to cry freely and to build friendships. It’s a once in a lifetime experience.