Ghost Writing Africa

I interpreted “Africa is the greatest ghost writer of all time” wrongly the first time, thinking it alluded to the phenomena of having our narratives told by other cultures.  Dissecting the phrase further led to an epiphany that the continent is the foundation of many of the world’s stories, many of such (remove second stories)stories that too often refuse to acknowledge her as their muse. Looking at it again, this new understanding doesn’t stray too far from the original. Other people are after all telling our stories while we take a most unprofitable backseat trunk rest.

I love comics at heart. I know this because I’m online everyday looking for them. But not the kind you’re thinking. There’s an overwhelming pool of content from established names like DC, Marvel and DarkHorse, each telling stories well suited to specific demographics. Stories that while beautiful and easily relatable, are strange and so distant from us. I scour the internet for entirely African created content and while there are quite a few, I’ve noticed a problematic trend. Nigeria has sort of become the locus of African comics, superhero titles anyway.

I’m better suited talking about Ghana, home is where the heart is after all so let me get into it. Save for Generation Identity and Leti Arts’ interactive Afirca’s Legends comics, there really aren’t any others. Yes, Setor Fiadzegbey has the Adinkra: Legend of the Bearers comic in the works, or not, as well as Kwezi & Mozi and Peter Poka Asamoah did quite the job turning Kwaw Ansah’s “Love Brewed in an African Pot” movie into a comic book. But that’s about it. There are the occasional stick figure illustrations and animations from Daniel Coker’s LOL Gh and Nils Britwum’s Creo Concepts outfit, Louis Appiah’s Tales of Nazir animations and also work from Michael Lellatom’s Colossal Toons as well as Tobi Svaniker’s Chaskele but that still is lacking. Kiaski Donkor’s Ananse is in the works but with no definite timeline, the painful void remains.

There are so many stories to be told here, storytelling through comics and animation really is an untapped resource in Ghana (and the continent by extension). Don’t get me started on the “comics/ animation is for children” ram’s excrement of anthem especially if you’re all crazy about flicks such as Batman and The Avengers.

A part of you might be screaming, “What’s stopping you from making your own comics?” Besides the fact that I can’t draw, that truly is a brilliant question. What is stopping me? I’m not as fluid a writer as I believe I have the potential to be but that mustn’t stop me from whipping up a story and seeking out some of the talented illustrators to ink them. I started something I’ve kinda lost faith in. Maybe I’m scared or just can’t find illustrators who share in my vision.

Whatever the case, the same question goes to you, what’s stopping you from creating stuff you’re passionate about? I’m not talking just comics, but any and everything. And no, this isn’t exclusive to Ghanaians. Even among the Nigerian creators taking charge of this beautiful art form, I feel there are too few stories. When can we as a people stop double checking content that’s shoved down our throats for representation, our very own representation when we can just make our own stuff?

It’s black history month and it annoys the hunger out of me that I keep coming up empty each time I google African comics outside Nigeria and South Africa. It’s time we emerged from the obscurity of ghost writing.

Kadi Yao Tay

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