Akodi-Orisha–The Community of the Orishas

Akodi-Orisha–The Community of the Orishas

The foundation of the community is a return to tradition, a remembering and continuation of who we are as a people.

JAN 08, 2023 DISCOVER NIGERIA

A few years ago, I came across a curious article about a professor arrested by municipal authorities in Ile-Ife, Nigeria, because of a building that he had designed and built.  What was his crime, you might ask, the officials were deeply troubled by the look and intentions of several buildings that had been designed and built by the professor in Ile-Ife, Nigeria. 

I grew up in Ile-ife and the town is at the center of Yoruba life, the cradle of our start as a people and like many Yoruba towns, there is constant tension between traditional indigenous belief systems and the tenets of Christianity and Islam that the majority of Yoruba now ascribed to.  A town deeply seeped in Yoruba tradition, the notion that someone would be arrested because of the design and aesthetic of a physical structure was beyond curious and I wanted to see the place. 

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The creator of this building is the incredibly talented, Prof. Moyo Okediji, a brilliant, artist, curator, who has cultivated an artist community of women in Ile-Ife, who are committed to creating a self-sustaining community deeply rooted in Yoruba tradition, woven throughout the community in its physicality, its culture and its tenets, a foundational honoring of Yoruba culture, its deities, aesthetics, language, medicine and its technologies.

Play Video

The minute we set foot in Akodi, we were greeted with such warmth by the group of women who have built this powerful community space, the architecture of the buildings were deeply steeped in traditional and natural materials – clay bricks, gourds and remnants of pottery, are the tools that are used to construct the buildings, the physical structure evokes the traditional construction and the buildings are a canvas for art and the artistic practice of the women who have built this community. Throughout the community there are various physical structures that are meant to embody Yoruba deities, heroines, folktales. We have the statue of Moremi, a Yoruba queen, who saved the people of Ile-Ife from subjugation from the neighboring Ugbo Kingdom. Woven throughout the community is the story of the Yoruba people, our deities, our mythologies, our dreams, and our future.

The foundation of the community is a return to tradition, a remembering and continuation of who we are as a people. From the aesthetic to health, these women have created a self-sufficient community that is a celebration of who we are. There is a commitment to creating traditional art – pottery, sand painting, sculpture. In medicine, we have elewe omo, women who have been custodians of tradition, and have a deep understanding of the medicinal qualities and effects of plants, roots, seeds. The women of Akodi are able to heal, treat various ailments through their creation of medicines to heal and cure. The women of Akodi have created a space that is a visual representation of who we are as a people and is a celebration of ancient technologies and practices. 

Shop The Story

$295.00
$625.00

Akodi-Orisha–The Community of the Orishas

The foundation of the community is a return to tradition, a remembering and continuation of who we are as a people.

JAN 08, 2023 DISCOVER NIGERIA

A few years ago, I came across a curious article about a professor arrested by municipal authorities in Ile-Ife, Nigeria, because of a building that he had designed and built.  What was his crime, you might ask, the officials were deeply troubled by the look and intentions of several buildings that had been designed and built by the professor in Ile-Ife, Nigeria. 

I grew up in Ile-ife and the town is at the center of Yoruba life, the cradle of our start as a people and like many Yoruba towns, there is constant tension between traditional indigenous belief systems and the tenets of Christianity and Islam that the majority of Yoruba now ascribed to.  A town deeply seeped in Yoruba tradition, the notion that someone would be arrested because of the design and aesthetic of a physical structure was beyond curious and I wanted to see the place. 

Play Video

The creator of this building is the incredibly talented, Prof. Moyo Okediji, a brilliant, artist, curator, who has cultivated an artist community of women in Ile-Ife, who are committed to creating a self-sustaining community deeply rooted in Yoruba tradition, woven throughout the community in its physicality, its culture and its tenets, a foundational honoring of Yoruba culture, its deities, aesthetics, language, medicine and its technologies.

Play Video

The minute we set foot in Akodi, we were greeted with such warmth by the group of women who have built this powerful community space, the architecture of the buildings were deeply steeped in traditional and natural materials – clay bricks, gourds and remnants of pottery, are the tools that are used to construct the buildings, the physical structure evokes the traditional construction and the buildings are a canvas for art and the artistic practice of the women who have built this community. Throughout the community there are various physical structures that are meant to embody Yoruba deities, heroines, folktales. We have the statue of Moremi, a Yoruba queen, who saved the people of Ile-Ife from subjugation from the neighboring Ugbo Kingdom. Woven throughout the community is the story of the Yoruba people, our deities, our mythologies, our dreams, and our future.

The foundation of the community is a return to tradition, a remembering and continuation of who we are as a people. From the aesthetic to health, these women have created a self-sufficient community that is a celebration of who we are. There is a commitment to creating traditional art – pottery, sand painting, sculpture. In medicine, we have elewe omo, women who have been custodians of tradition, and have a deep understanding of the medicinal qualities and effects of plants, roots, seeds. The women of Akodi are able to heal, treat various ailments through their creation of medicines to heal and cure. The women of Akodi have created a space that is a visual representation of who we are as a people and is a celebration of ancient technologies and practices. 

Shop The Story

$575.00
$625.00
$295.00

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Iyan–A Love Story

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No singular meal that arouses my senses like Iyan  aka ‘pounded yam’ with Egusi stew.

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There is no singular meal that arouses my senses like Iyan  aka ‘pounded yam’ with Egusi stew. This piece is really about the Iyan part. 

There is no meal of the Nigerian variety that I love more, actually love is not quite the right word.   There is no singular meal that I find more satisfying or fulfilling. There is certainly nostalgia and childhood memories that underlie this obsession but the magic of this meal goes much deeper. There is a ritual in its preparation. You boil yam, no salt, just water. And then using a pestle and a mortar, two majestic instruments, you begin to pound and pound till you transform the yam into another life form. 

The meal itself is love and labor, immense effort to transform the yam into a more delicious form. Iyan can be pounded by an individual but it is often a community effort, everyone grabbing the pestle to pound the iyan into such delicious goodness.

Of course every town claims that their Iyan is the best, on a recent trip to Nigeria, I had the opportunity to visit Oyo and there is no better place to partake of Iyan than Oyo.

Shop The Story

Iyan–A Love Story

No singular meal that arouses my senses like Iyan  aka ‘pounded yam’ with Egusi stew.

JAN 08, 2023 DISCOVER NIGERIA

There is no singular meal that arouses my senses like Iyan  aka ‘pounded yam’ with Egusi stew. This piece is really about the Iyan part. 

There is no meal of the Nigerian variety that I love more, actually love is not quite the right word.   There is no singular meal that I find more satisfying or fulfilling. There is certainly nostalgia and childhood memories that underlie this obsession but the magic of this meal goes much deeper. There is a ritual in its preparation. You boil yam, no salt, just water. And then using a pestle and a mortar, two majestic instruments, you begin to pound and pound till you transform the yam into another life form. 

The meal itself is love and labor, immense effort to transform the yam into a more delicious form. Iyan can be pounded by an individual but it is often a community effort, everyone grabbing the pestle to pound the iyan into such delicious goodness.

Of course every town claims that their Iyan is the best, on a recent trip to Nigeria, I had the opportunity to visit Oyo and there is no better place to partake of Iyan than Oyo.

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Abeokuta

Abeokuta

For the experience of traditional Yoruba life and what is at stake as Nigerians embrace modernity with gusto, look no further than Abeokuta.

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As I’ve traveled, I’ve come to discover that there are certain cities in the world that have a particular pull on me. I don’t know what it is but some places, like New Orleans or Hoi An, Vietnam, have a strange kind of seductive atmosphere that make them unforgettable. Abeokuta in Nigeria is a town like that. It is one of the most beautiful towns in Nigeria.  There are multiple iterations of man’s vain attempt to force the landscape into submission. That battle between man and nature ended in a detente that has lasted at least a century. When you look out over the town from high points, there is a sea of rusted tin roofs beneath you, a canopy of orange. There are also giant rocks sitting on top of (fully functional) houses, houses carved inside rocks, house on top of rocks… The giant rocks are where Abeokuta gets its name, it literally means, ‘Under the Rock.’


Abeokuta has also given us some of Nigeria’s greatest minds – Funmi Ransome-Kuti (Fela’s mother and one of Nigeria’s freedom fighter), Fela, Wole Soyinka. Egba minds who radically showed us what was possible through their work and lives. 

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My love affair with this town became an obsession as I began my work with textiles; there is a rich history of creating textiles in Abeokuta. The dyeing tradition of Adire (‘to tie and dye’ in Yoruba) in Abeokuta goes back to nineteenth century, with an industry nurtured by a stronghold of Egba women and although the tools have changed from feathers to stamps, dyes have evolved from organic to synthetic in many parts of Nigeria, including Abeokuta. Abeokuta remains a bastion of traditional dyeing, in Abeokuta, we see techniques and methods that are embedded with generations of technology in the women of Abeokuta have nurtured and sustained this fertile industry, adapting to market pressures including intervention of colonial power to sabotage local textile industries with cheap imports to cheap Chinese imports. The sea of traditional indigo fabrics laid in the hot sun for drying throughout Abeokuta confirms a vibrant textile trade. For the experience of traditional Yoruba life and what is at stake as Nigerians embrace modernity with gusto, look no further than Abeokuta. 

Play Video

Modern day Abeokuta is at the crossroads of modernity and tradition,  a town where old traditional homes have been summarily demolished to build new roads and yet the traditional way of doing things still feels palpable. This is the town I load up on my Nigerian goodies,  my honey,  almost jet black with an earthy flavor unlike any honey I had ever tasted, my Osun, the camwood powder that gives my skin a certain sheen, I get my Ose Dudu (black soap) mixed, no Lagos soap for me and more textiles than I can fathom. I’m obsessed with the quality of the soap and the way my soap lady guards the exact recipe of the particular mixture she makes. The Ofada rice (local rice)is served to you wrapped in banana leaves and your hands are your utensils. 

I return to Abeokuta when I need to reconnect to the work, to immerse myself in the history of textile making, to immerse myself in our tradition of making textiles and fabrics. To return to the ways that we have always made things and the rich culture that gave birth to all this beauty. 

Shop The Story

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Abeokuta

For the experience of traditional Yoruba life and what is at stake as Nigerians embrace modernity with gusto, look no further than Abeokuta.

JAN 08, 2023 DISCOVER NIGERIA

As I’ve traveled, I’ve come to discover that there are certain cities in the world that have a particular pull on me. I don’t know what it is but some places, like New Orleans or Hoi An, Vietnam, have a strange kind of seductive atmosphere that make them unforgettable. Abeokuta in Nigeria is a town like that. It is one of the most beautiful towns in Nigeria.  There are multiple iterations of man’s vain attempt to force the landscape into submission. That battle between man and nature ended in a detente that has lasted at least a century. When you look out over the town from high points, there is a sea of rusted tin roofs beneath you, a canopy of orange. There are also giant rocks sitting on top of (fully functional) houses, houses carved inside rocks, house on top of rocks… The giant rocks are where Abeokuta gets its name, it literally means, ‘Under the Rock.’


Abeokuta has also given us some of Nigeria’s greatest minds – Funmi Ransome-Kuti (Fela’s mother and one of Nigeria’s freedom fighter), Fela, Wole Soyinka. Egba minds who radically showed us what was possible through their work and lives. 

Play Video

My love affair with this town became an obsession as I began my work with textiles; there is a rich history of creating textiles in Abeokuta. The dyeing tradition of Adire (‘to tie and dye’ in Yoruba) in Abeokuta goes back to nineteenth century, with an industry nurtured by a stronghold of Egba women and although the tools have changed from feathers to stamps, dyes have evolved from organic to synthetic in many parts of Nigeria, including Abeokuta. Abeokuta remains a bastion of traditional dyeing, in Abeokuta, we see techniques and methods that are embedded with generations of technology in the women of Abeokuta have nurtured and sustained this fertile industry, adapting to market pressures including intervention of colonial power to sabotage local textile industries with cheap imports to cheap Chinese imports. The sea of traditional indigo fabrics laid in the hot sun for drying throughout Abeokuta confirms a vibrant textile trade. For the experience of traditional Yoruba life and what is at stake as Nigerians embrace modernity with gusto, look no further than Abeokuta. 

Play Video

Modern day Abeokuta is at the crossroads of modernity and tradition,  a town where old traditional homes have been summarily demolished to build new roads and yet the traditional way of doing things still feels palpable. This is the town I load up on my Nigerian goodies,  my honey,  almost jet black with an earthy flavor unlike any honey I had ever tasted, my Osun, the camwood powder that gives my skin a certain sheen, I get my Ose Dudu (black soap) mixed, no Lagos soap for me and more textiles than I can fathom. I’m obsessed with the quality of the soap and the way my soap lady guards the exact recipe of the particular mixture she makes. The Ofada rice (local rice)is served to you wrapped in banana leaves and your hands are your utensils. 

I return to Abeokuta when I need to reconnect to the work, to immerse myself in the history of textile making, to immerse myself in our tradition of making textiles and fabrics. To return to the ways that we have always made things and the rich culture that gave birth to all this beauty. 

Shop The Story

$575.00
$625.00
$295.00
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