“Orekelewa” the Yoruba addage which means ‘paragon of beauty’. This painting takes me back to my origins. A beautiful woman, flashy with her “gele” which is a special head wrap also originally from the Yoruba tribe but popularly worn in other parts of Nigeria and West Africa. Her make-up is bold, her gesture is one of confidence and class. She knows she looks good and she flaunts it. Embellished with tribal marks , my painting is very expressive.
I remember the day I walked down the streets of San Francisco, all dressed up in my Ankara tube top and fish styled skirt, my head adorned with my golden ‘gele’. I stepped slowly , up and down those hills in my high heeled shoes. I was on my way to the Palace Holel where the Museum of the African Diaspora was having their Gala and I just happened to be a VIP guest. A random man on the street began to sing to me, “she’s your queen to be…..” , popular soundtrack from Eddie Murphy’s movie “Coming to America”. I guess in many ways, I felt like a queen that night. I gave San Francisco a very rare spectacle, I mean , how often do you see a woman in a ‘gele’ walking down the street here? When I walked in , wow, I was blinded by the camera’s on the red carpet, microphones and paparazzi asking for my name. It felt really good. I got to hang out with Danny Glover , Deborah Santana and Alfre Woodard. My night of stardom. Imagine how popular the ‘gele’ is back in Naija and here, it got me a lot of attention.
I always say that we’ve got a lot of issues back home , but one of the things that makes me proudly Naija is our culture and I flaunt it at any given opportunity. We are beautiful and we are blessed. We have a lot to share with the world.
“Orekelewa 2” 18×12 will be featured in my solo show titled “Rebirth” taking place at the Joyce Gordon Gallery, 406 14th Street, downtown Oakland between Broadway and telegraph, from March 6 – April 25th . Opening reception is on March 6, 6-9pm . For more information, please visit