The Fakeye Dynasty: the Art of the Master Craftsmen


My great grandfather was a famous woodcarver. His name was Gbogunjoko. He was living in Omido, north of Illa, on the way to Esie. When war came he went to Illa. The King asked all the carvers to carve something for the Oro festival, when all the worshippers bring out their images. When the King, who was called Orangun Illa, and whose personal name was Aniyeloye, saw Gbogunjoko’s work, he gave his daughter to be his wife.

(Lamidi Olonade Fakeye as quoted in Yoruba Religious Carving: Pagan & Christian Sculpture in Nigeria & Dahomey by Kevin Carroll S.M.A., 1967)

The above extract is not a Yoruba folktale. It is an account of the dawn of the dynasty of one of Nigeria’s oldest families of artists. …

Adekemi is a lawyer and writer with a passion for the arts, particularly African art history. She is dedicated to discovering and documenting the most excellent artworks of our time. Follow her on Twitter at adekemitweets.


  1. Artstrings
    22nd February 2018

    Thanks, Lekan. We will keep telling their stories.

  2. Lekan Akinsete
    22nd February 2018

    A beautiful and well written article by Adekemi! Okukor statue was stolen by the people who brought Christianity to Africa, and used as a mascot and as decoration in a Christian university, known as Jesus College, Chokwe masks from Angola and so many others across Africa were carted away by the colonialist, yet, we Africans consider our history and ingenuity fetish and idolatry. I hope we would see the light and give these geniuses like Lamidi Fakeye the honor they truly deserve.

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