It’s not your fault if you don’t know where you come from, but it is your fault if you refuse to believe that all human life began in Africa! I began my career as an artist more than 30 years ago. To represent my work, I chose to use only my last name “Chukes.” I had no idea that the name “Chukes” was African. It wasn’t until I came in contact with Africans living in America who informed me that my last name is Nigerian — from Africa!
The knowledge of my last name has been one of my greatest gifts. Knowing that my last name is African and not the last name of a slave owner gave me a much greater sense of being, and my connection to this earth is enlightened. Yes, slavery is part of my history. Somehow my ancestors held the name Chukes so sacred that forgetting their true African name would mean losing all ties to the motherland, and they could not let that happen. The name Chukes will continue to remain strong in America for many generations to come.
As part of my history, I took it upon myself to research the greatness of my African culture. “Africans Only” is part of my history; it’s a representation of the celebrated sculptures of Benin King and Queen of Nigeria. Their faces are mirrored so each time you look at them you see yourself as a king or a queen, and hopefully, you realize that “Africans Only” means all of us!