Artist Spotlight: Odera

What is your name?

Odera, Princess Pako if you really know.

Tell us a bit about yourself/background

I’m a cross between IJGB (I just got back) and JJC (Johnny Just come).  Born in Richmond, Virginia went to elementary school 3 blocks from the world trade center. After our experience on 9/11, my mom was traumatized and we moved to Nigeria where I went to high school and college.

When did you start your involvement in activism?

I’ve always been very vocal about Nigeria’s issue. I never realized it was activism until people started using it to tease me. Since I was studying journalism in college, I was always opinionated about political issues. Just last year I decided to make videos on my instagram vocally expressing how I feel about things.

How was the reaction/feedback from those around you (family/friends)?

The reaction has been mostly great. Most of my friends and family are as frustrated about the Nigerian situation as I am and they are all willing to rally around me for a change. Even from my American friends, they are inspired by the deep passion I have to make things change. I did lose some friends though, when I was in New York film academy I lost a group of friends that said I talk about Nigeria too much.

What inspires your art?

I just want to see Africans excel in what is their own. It kills me that not a single African nation in the world can tell their history or speak of great achievement without mentioning colonial powers or foreign aid. I want black people all over the world to have a point of inspiration that we can really turn our story around by ourselves and that we have the intelligence, strength and courage to achieve what looks like a great feat.

What is your favorite piece and why?

My favorite piece is yet to come, the one that is the turning point of our revolution. That hasn’t happened yet so I’ll wait.

Who would you like to work with /who inspires you/ which artist do you admire?

I’m inspired by the late revolutionary Thomas Sankara. Read up on him and be wowed too!

Future Plans?

I have plans to one day join politics. I have moved back to Nigeria now (was in New York for 2 and half years). I want to understand the place better by living through it. It’s not easy I can tell you that, but I want the struggle to be a driver. So I am constantly working hard everyday with the thought in my mind that my only option is to make it work, for everyone’s good, not just mine, or die trying.

What advice do you have for anybody out there who wants to be an artist like you?

People are going to call you crazy. At a point you will look in the mirror and call yourself crazy, then you will realize you are and just want you to appreciate that. No one ever changed the world by being like it. The world needs your unique brand of crazy.

Instagram: @oderano