7 March 2016
Orisha’s Journey, a short animated film by New York City-based Ghanaian filmmaker Abdul Ndadi, brings a distinctive African feel to the world of animation, through vivid colours, its soundtrack and storytelling.
In the film, the title character, Orisha, listens sceptically to a fairy tale told by her grandfather. She decides to find her own fairy tale, one that truly speaks to her. To do so, she embarks on an adventure, and along the way encounters magical creatures and monsters from African folklore.
Orisha also makes new friends and realises that reality can sometimes be stranger than fiction. Ultimately, the girl learns more about herself, her culture and the interconnectedness of nature and humanity.
— The Sunhead Project (@sunheadmag) February 21, 2016
The film began as a thesis project by Ndadi while he was studying at the School of Visual Arts in New York City in 2013. It soon evolved into a passion project, as well as his calling card for his talent in the often competitive world of animation. Orisha’s Journey, completed in 2014, has been screened at several festivals, including the 2015 Cannes Short Film Corner and the Hiroshima International Animation Festival in Japan in 2014. In addition, it has been screened at festivals across Africa and North America, and has got a buzz among animation studios in the UK and the US.
Orisha’s Journey, a fantasy tale of a girl’s journey through the Spirit World by Ghanaian. https://t.co/VVx9agLJ68 pic.twitter.com/9iI0OsDwBD
— Afrokanist Magazine (@Afrokanistmagaz) February 20, 2016
The film can be watched online, and it has notched over 20 000 views on YouTube and Vimeo combined.
Speaking to the Okayafrica arts and culture website, Ndadi explains the symbolism of the film’s elements: “I wanted my film to have a certain pan- Africanism, so (African children) all could feel like they’re part of my film.”
Orisha, which is a Nigerian Yoruba word, means “nature spirit”, and the character acts as a metaphor for discovering one’s true nature and identity, he says. It also identifies the yearning of young Africans in the African diaspora to rediscover their roots, and learn a history and folklore that sometimes feels as if it is in danger of being forgotten or overruled by Western modernity.
Ndadi explains that “we (can) teach our youth the truth (about history) and they will carry it on and build a world where we are all truly equals”.
He credits his parents for instilling this love of African history and folklore: ” (They gave me) a strong sense of pride in my culture and never (let) me forget my roots. Without one’s roots, I feel it’s easy to become like a leaf blowing in the wind, with nothing to keep you grounded in who you truly are.”
Ndadi’s journey to Cannes in 2015, to show his short film at the annual film festival: