In 2015, I was tasked with the sole purpose of embarking on a project that was aimed at addressing the message of political incorrectness, with the intention of striking the right and wrong nerves. As well as projecting the concept of being an individual who acts as a self-editor without any restraints, one of the sole purposes of this after reasonable research, was to produce a body of work that was grotesquely beautiful and unapologetic in its content. The end result, was a comic that explored the misconstrued impressions of neglect, disdain and bias consistently projected by the western media for the longest time, about other regions of the world, with Africa being my centre of focus.
Title ‘Baga’, the comic was based on information available via research provided via a plethora of sources, one which was Amnesty international. Amnesty international in 2015 reported that an estimate of people killed as a result of the attacks on Baga (a village located in the northern region of Nigeria), by boko haram was about 2000. Yet, it seemed to fail to make the headlines in Europe or anywhere in the west till about 3-4 days after the tragic occurrence. But the deaths in France i.e. the victims of the Charlie hebdo killings, and the Parisian kosher store ranged at about 17 lives and seemed to make the headlines almost immediately.
The world was abuzz for those in France than those in Nigeria, almost emphasizing that certain lives within the global scheme of things seemed to have prominence/significance over others. Micheal Jennings of the school of Oriental and African studies in London broke things down by emphasizing that while the attacks on Paris was viewed by mainstream media as an assault on ”fundamental liberty”, and an existential attack on all of Europe, the Nigerian bloodbath was presented as ”part of an on-going history of violence between communities”. By such assertions, the implications then became obvious; indirect conditioning of those within western circles and communities, to be disconnected from events that affect other parts of the world (which stretches for centuries) since those in the west were unaffected directly by such, creates indifference towards the plight of others, emphasizing that others from parts of the world unrelated the west were insignificant. Yet, the west has mined these parts (and still do) for resources that directly and indirectly benefit their societies.
Below are pages from the comic Baga.
Upon posting these images on a variety of social media platforms, I received an email from a writer, Olohi Ilevbare, who was impressed by my illustrations and very interested in collaborating on a similar subject, with the intention of me converting one of her short stories into a graphic novel. Titled ‘New Life’, it is a story about victims of domestic terrorism and extremism, focusing on the vulnerability, and youth of teenage girls, and how they’re being preyed on the most.
Upon receipt of and digestion of her short story, I was intrigued by the perspective from which the story was being told; from the viewpoint of the 200 plus girls that were abducted by the boko haram terrorists, which sparked global outrage and protest, generating a reasonable amount of publicity with the hashtag ”BRING BACK OUR GIRLS”, as well backing/support from some very prominent global personalities, one of which was former first lady of the United States of America, Michelle Obama.
Reading the first 4 paragraphs, of the three page short story, I decided that I’d embark on such a project, regardless of when, and making this known to the writer. For me, this seemed to be a natural extension of my previous project. It also signified a challenge and a step towards being able to engage random subjects, thereby giving me the opportunity to be as versatile and diverse in my approach to being a graphic illustrator.
Fast forward to 2017, and the intention is to create a four page graphic story from the 4 page short story. This will involve the reconstruction of the short story into a script for comic in order for a clearly defined direction and translation of the various elements within the story, to achieve its aim in comic book form. This will be exceptionally challenging but at the end, it will be worth the risk and effort.