Nicolette Orji, more popularly known as, Nikki Billie Jean, is a Nigerian-American who continues to make notable statements in the fashion industry. As the founder of All Things Ankara, Orji has created fashion campaigns depicting celebrities such as Jidenna, Cardi B, Yemi Alade, Akon, and Cynthia Bailey. Since 2015, when a photo of Jidena wearing ankara went viral, All Things Ankara has been tagged as the #1 source for ankara print fashion and Orji's work has since been spotted on Jimmy Kimmel Live! and Forbes.
This week, Orji debuted yet another fashion campaign which is also a call-to-action. Her #EndSARS campaign is a remake of Tiwa Savage’s "49-99" music video originally directed by Meji Alabi of JM Films and calls for continued dialogue about the injustices taking place in Nigeria. In a recent Instagram post, Orji wrote:
"Growing up in America as a first-generation Nigerian-American, I have always been aware of the common problem both [countries] have with police brutality, especially Nigeria and I can no longer afford to be silent. WE should no longer be silent."
Videographer, Wale Olawoyin of Champion Studio (@waletheceo)
Orji's #EndSARS fashion campaign focused on recreating the original scenes of Tiwa Savage and a group of women wearing a blue, white-collar dress while rocking threaded hairstyles. The women are also seen wearing black sunglasses, counting naira (Nigerian currency), and sewing ankara fabrics in a factory. The video in its entirety references how Nigerians are suffering yet smiling at the same time while the #EndSARS movement highlights the reality of this suffering, specifically police brutality. Orji says, "The #EndSars movement has now become another iteration of the #BlackLivesMatter movement and it is important now more than ever for Nigerian-Americans to also support and speak up for our brothers and sisters in Nigeria."
The phrase 49-99 was coined by Fela Kuti in his 1978 hit song, “Shuffering and Shmiling.” 49-99 references a transit bus, known in Nigeria as a molué, which originally seats a maximum of 49 passengers but often has twice that number - 99 passengers. This is a direct reflection of the poor economic conditions in Nigeria and of the hard life many Nigerians endure. During Tiwa Savage’s London listening party last year, she said her "49-99" song, "encourages the young to put down the sense of inheritance and to work for what they desire in life, for a better tomorrow."
Original 49-99 video by Tiwa Savage:
Tiwa Savage saw the #EndSARS fashion campaign on Twitter and loved it. She reacted by saying, "It must have taken so much to re-create this. Truly appreciate it. Thank you!"
It must have taken so much to re-create this. Truly appreciate it. Thank you ❤️🙏🏾 https://t.co/ENIo17XoRx— Tiwa Savage ⚔️ (@TiwaSavage) October 31, 2020
While Nigerians on the ground make an effort to protest injustices and to speak out against police brutality, the diaspora must continue to show support. We must take action to help amplify their voices. We must share resources and recreate accounts of what occurs to raise awareness and to inform the world.
The #EndSARS fashion campaign was executively produced and directed by Orji alongside the creative director, Troy Massa @troymassa) and was managed by Jasmine Ngegba (@sia.jas) with assistance from Nicholas Orji (@sir.niick). For more information about Nicolette Orji's work, visit nikkibilliejean.com or allthingsankara.com.