Nigerians have been doing some pretty amazing things as far as animation in the last two years. We’ve followed with delight the work of Nigeria’s Anthill studios and the increasingly complex action animated films they have put out in 2016, their films being the first animated features from Nigeria that truly meet global standards while rejecting the western stories that films of that nature made in Nigeria used to be tainted by. But we’ve all been waiting for someone to step in the vacuum for adult themed animated content and our wish might finally be fulfilled by the guys behind the new animated short “Dawn Of Thunder”.
To comprehend why Dawn of Thunder and the work Komotion Studios matters, requires a more thorough understanding of Nigeria’s past as a former colony and the extensive destructive cultural impact colonialism had on our creative industries. Fantasy and magical realism is the very bedrock of Nigerian life, we believe in gods and monsters with as much certainly as we do the weather, perform elaborate rituals instinctively to ward off evil and believe in the paranormal. But this belief is also sort of an inner life for Nigerians, one that has somehow failed to penetrate our intellectual circles. Our Nollywood films frame our cultural history as ‘Bush’ or ‘illiterate’, or worse ‘evil’, our music and literature prefer to ignore it altogether. We extol the sterile unbelief with which western literature approaches all creative work and extol literary intellectualism (which is fine in its own right) above all else. Only recent have Nigerians begun to reclaim our traditional heritage, writers like Nnedi Okorafor, Chikodili Emelumadu, Lesley Nneka Arimah and Tade Thompson begun to celebrate this duality of worlds in which the average Nigerian lives.
As our fantasy, magical realism and sci-fi literature gains ground globally (Okorafor has won many of the world’s most important fantasy awards, and Emelumadu and Arimah were both nominated for the 2017 Caine Prize for Fantasy stories) film media is taking cues and exploring those genres. Komotion Studios, a Lagos based VFX/Animation Studio, has taken things a step further with “Dawn Of Thunder” a short film that explores the origin story of Yoruba Orisa deity, Sango. Sango is the second most famous thunder god after Thor (who owes his fame to the Marvel Comics) and is the only Thunder God still actively worshiped. Except for sparse explorations by traditional western comics, no one has ever successfully brought the Yoruba pantheon to the small screen.
Here are a few things that intrigue us about the “Dawn Of Thunder” short film. It was created as a proof of Concept for a series or feature film, explores the childhood and origin story of the human who as a result of a series of travails is transfigured into the Orisa Sango. The film uses motion capture technology to animate the film’s characters and voice actors who worked entirely in Yoruba, all on a $400 budget. The film now has 80,000 views across platforms in less than two weeks.
Kolawole and Regina Olarewaju, Founders of Komotion Studios and their team of six animators, designers and engineers have basically done the impossible with 3D animation and proven that we don’t need capes and spandex to bring our own superheroes to life. The studio will soon start seeking funding to expand “Dawn of Thunder” into a much larger project and when they do, we’ll be front of the line.
See the film here and check out Komotion Studio’s reel.
Edwin eats his rice and cabbages. Tweet at him@edgothboy