Self Preservation

Self-Preservation by Nkemjika Okorafor

“Nsibidi is a language I have been obsessed about for as long as I can remember.

It was the general language spoken and written by a large number of tribes in Nigeria, before the British arrived and wiped its existence almost completely from our history.

The language is a combination of symbols which are words, when put together, form sentences.

The symbols projected on my skin are;




A strong reminder that self preservation is most important above all else.”

– Nkemjika Okorafor

Self-Preservation by Nkemjika Okorafor

In a world where external pressures and constant demands often threaten to drown out our inner voices, self-preservation becomes a silent but powerful act of resilience. Nkemjika Okorafor, a versatile creative with a career spanning over 14 years in various artistic endeavors, understands the importance of self-love, strength, and preserving the rich cultural heritage of Nigeria. In her latest work, “Self-Preservation,” Okorafor masterfully weaves together these themes using the ancient Nsibidi language, creating a visual and conceptual masterpiece that speaks volumes.


Nsibidi, an ancient system of symbols or proto-writing developed by the Ejagham people of southeastern Nigeria, is not a spoken language in the traditional sense. Instead, it serves as a unique system of communication, capable of conveying a wide range of messages, including abstract concepts, actions, and tangible objects. Over the years, Nsibidi has faced marginalization and near-erasure from history, but its spirit lives on, thanks to artists like Nkemjika Okorafor.


In “Self-Preservation,” Nkemjika Okorafor becomes a canvas for the Nsibidi symbols representing “self,” “love,” and “warrior.” This act of projection onto her skin serves as a visually striking reminder of the importance of self-preservation and the strength that is born from self-love. It encapsulates the idea that before we can be warriors in the battles of life, we must first become warriors for ourselves.


But Okorafor’s work goes beyond personal empowerment. It is a poignant tribute to Nsibidi, a language that has long been overshadowed and marginalized. By incorporating Nsibidi into her art, Okorafor helps breathe new life into this ancient script, ensuring that it remains relevant and cherished in contemporary Nigerian culture.


The collaborative effort behind “Self-Preservation” is also worth noting. The photograph, captured by Lasalvy, the styling by @premiumstylistafrica, and the creative direction by @thenojcompany, underscores the importance of a community coming together to create something meaningful and powerful.


Nkemjika Okorafor’s work stands as a testament to the importance of self-love and inner strength. It serves as a bridge between the past and the present, honoring the legacy of Nsibidi while offering a contemporary message of empowerment and resilience. “Self-Preservation” is not just art; it’s a powerful reminder that our cultural heritage, personal growth, and self-preservation are intrinsically linked, and together they form a tapestry of strength and identity.

About the Artist

Nkemjika Okorafor is a multifaceted creative with over 14 years experience in modelling, styling, creative direction and complete audiovisual production.


She is based in Lagos and runs a styling company called THE NOJ Company, a newly launched production company called THE I.A.N Company and also a thriving private thrift /resale company called The Ajebo Thrift shop. 


Her focus is on changing the integral operations within the production space in the creative industry by focusing on proper communication, time management and shining the spotlight on all kinds of creatives within Africa.

Creative Credits

Photographer: @lasalvy

Model: @iamnkemjika

Clothing: @premiumstylistafrica

Creative direction: Nkemjika Okorafor @thenojcompany

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