Abdul Ndadi is a Ghanaian animator based in New York whose film, “Orisha’s Journey” is gaining positive reviews after having been screened at several film festivals, including the Hiroshima International Animation Festival in Japan. The animated film is a Pan-African exploration told through the point of view of a young girl travelling through a forest. Ndadi wanted to show different aspects of different African countries through his film.

 

(Sinous Mag)

(Sinous Mag)

While in the forest, our heroine Orisha learns the importance of her roots while encountering mysterious beings. Some may already be familiar with the part of Africa that the titular Orisha comes from. In Yoruba cosmology, Orisha refers to spirits or deities. Often likened to saints in other religions, the Orisha are venerated in Nigeria, Benin, Brazil, and parts of the Caribbean.

 

“Orisha’s Journey” is just the tip of a number of works that draw inspiration from the Orisha. Those with a keen eye and some understanding of Yoruba culture will notice that the Orisha are appearing in pop culture recently. When Ibeyi, the Afro-Cuban sisters croon about Oya, few may know that Oya is a deity of storms and rebirth. OSHUN the neo-soul duo from New York claim to sing in appreciation of Osun the Orisha of love and fertility. Bringing things closer to home, a good number of Nigerian comic books draw from tales of the Orisha, even when the creators are not Yoruba themselves.

 

It is important to consider that with the introduction and subsequent growth of Christianity in Nigeria, traditional beliefs came to be regarded as evil and backward. Yet regardless of this dichotomy, stories and characters influenced by traditional spirituality seem to be fodder for inspiration for creative people all over the world. This draws parallels with the popularity of the Greek or Viking pantheon which continues to inspire music, TV shows, movies, and other forms of art today. For people of African descent, the Orisha present a pantheon that looks like them.

 

Do you enjoy seeing modern interpretations of traditional culture? Are they necessary in keeping traditions alive? Leave a comment below or reach me on Twitter @rafeeeeta