The real history of Nigeria is not something many people seem to care a lot about these days. The fault of course lies with us (Nigerians) and perhaps with the current state of the country as it continues its rather confusing decline in development and basic education. We could all easily blame the Government for this, citing the continuing decay of our infrastructure and the corruption of our leaders and civil servants as the major cause of our lost history. Unfortunately the problem is a lot greater than that. We (Nigerians) don’t really care as much about our past as we often claim to and only seem to show any real interest in bringing up the past only when it suits our purposes.
As a people, Nigerians have always cited traditional values as the cornerstone of our culture and our rather diverse and numerous ethnic groups. Growing up, we were all taught to keep these traditions and the culture of our varying ethnic groups sacred; To remember them and honor them so that we never forget. However, these days, our traditions only ever seem to matter when it comes to our elders telling us what to do. We shouldn’t question them, because they’re older and we should always do what they say even in the absence of reason, all out of some inane sense of respecting your elders simply because they’re older than you. A trend that in my own opinion inevitably led to the rather dramatic downward spiral of our country and our people.
WHAT WE LOST?
Somewhere along the way, upholding our traditions and standing for what is right somehow got lost over the course of time and was inevitably replaced with blind and dumb obedience. In the country’s current political climate, we only have to look back at the feats and achievements of the legendary figures of our past to discover that simply doing what you’re told isn’t the way forward.
HISTORY RISES AGAIN.
There is a saying that goes “A man can never know where he’s going, unless he knows where he’s been.” It is a saying, I think, that very well may apply to every aspect of human life and progress, and especially in the case of tackling Nigeria’s sometimes confused histories. What exists of Nigeria’s documented history was full of conjecture and differed from one source to another and most of the accounts I came across were full of speculation and a fair bit of fantasy-fiction.
So, when the people at Panaramic Comics came to me to write a comic book based on historical figures from Nigeria’s past, I’ll admit, I was a little skeptical about the whole idea. Not because, I thought there wasn’t anything about the history of these magnificent figures whose lives and actions influenced the creation of this great country, but mostly because I wasn’t sure anyone would really care about it. Jump forward a few years later, and I’m glad to say that I was wrong. In the end the comic title Okiojo’s Chronicles is perhaps one of the things that I’ve written, that I am most proud of; if not for anything else, but the impact it seems to have had on children who, as far as ten years ago, first picked up the comic and now remember it fondly.
Since then, Panaramic have featured in various articles, they have been invited and attended various functions and asked to speak at seminars and conventions all to keep a shining light on the history of Nigeria.
Okiojo’s Chronicles was created by Oriteme Banigo, written by me (Adeniyi Adeniji), with art by Sunkanmi Akinboye and was created as a tool to educate and entertain the Nigerian youth with two main goals in mind: “to tackle the high illiteracy rate in Nigeria and to offer Nigerians (and the rest of the world) the opportunity to engage in our rich history & culture by helping to promote and preserve it.” The founders of Panaramic comics, Olatunji Anjorin (Right in the picture above), Rotimi Anjorin, Rotimi Dawodu and Oriteme Banigo (Left in the picture above and who is also credited as the creator of Okiojo’s Chronicles) first came together in 2007 to make this dream happen.
I wrote the first four titles in the series (about 9 years ago) with “1897: the Fall of Benin”, “Oduduwa: The Origin of the Yoruba” and then with Queen Amina: the Seed (part one) and Queen Amina: Warrior Queen (part two). It’s amazing what you learn about your own history when you’re basically forced (sad I know) to read up on it. Naturally, having taken History class in school, I knew a little about the historical figures and events portrayed in the titles I would eventually come to write, but delving deep into history and backgrounds of these stories, I found that there was lot I didn’t know, or rather, there was a lot people seemed to leave out whenever they told or taught these stories to us back then. Finding out who all these people truly were was adventure in its own right.
Later, I would write “The Jaja of Opobo”, “Nri Kingdom: The Origins Of The Igbo” and “Eyo Festival: The Adamu Orisa Play”. It was writing these last few chapters in the chronicles of Okiojo that further highlighted just how much of our untold histories is slowly dwindling away with the rest of the countries failing infrastructure as it descends into economical destitution.
SAVING OUR HISTORY.
Panaramic was created as a way to keep that history alive, but I fear that there is only so much that can be done with this medium alone if the Nigerian populace and our Government don’t do their part. It is not just the job of a comic book or history class to pass on the knowledge of our past. That responsibility also lies with you and me.
Most of the interest in the comic book so far, has sadly, been from foreign bodies outside the country. Trying to get the Government and Nigerian individuals interested in this product has been a daunting and thankless task. There have been a lot bright spots, like the U.S World News Report, featuring in a BBC video interview with the likes of Nnedi Okafor and even an honorable mention in the Financial Times, amongt many others. But if, this comic doesn’t start getting support from its own people fast, I’m not sure what the point will be. After all, the history Panaramic and Okiojo is trying to preserve is the history of the Nigerian people.
wikipedia: panaramic entertainment
Here’s a look at “(Okiojo’s Chronicles) Oduduwa: The Origin of the Yoruba” as it was featured on the website of (Nigerian Newspaper) The Guardian
If you are in Nigeria, who can pick up the print version of the first four titles at these locations here:
• Book Plus (Awolowo Road)
• CMS Bookshop
• Eko Hotel (BDC: Shop 15)
• Jazzhole (Awolowo Road)
• Glendora (Shoprite Ikeja)
• Lanterna (Victoria Island)
• Patabah (Shoprite Surulere)
• Shoppers Delight (Victoria Island)
• Terra Kulture
• Neighbourhood Mart (UPDC Estate)
• The Hub (Palms Lekki)
• Unilag Bookstore (at the University of Lagos)
or find out where to get it online @ panaramiconline.com