If you’re familiar with Nigerian history at all, chances are that you’ve heard of Oduduwa, the first Ooni of Ife. Oduduwa is revered by many as the father of all Yoruba people. By establishing the Kingdom of Ife, Oduduwa created the first notable Yoruba kingdom in history. His exploits were so legendary that following his death the Yoruba people deified him as a god.
There’s no doubt Oduduwa was a legend but who exactly was this man? Where did he come from? What exactly did he do to earn so much love and respect? The answers to these questions vary depending on which source you look at. Some say Oduduwa came from the Middle East, others say he was from Benin. Historian Samuel Johnson even goes as far as to claim Oduduwa was the son of the legendary Biblical Conqueror Nimrod.
We may never know the specific details of Oduduwa’s life and in many ways that obscurity helps to enhance the legend after all, we’re often drawn to things that are mysterious and unknown. However, this begs the question how do we tell Oduduwa’s story? There is a complete narrative about Oodua the deity but what about Oodua the king?
CGI artist, Ayo Adelagun believes we can use art to reimagine the great kings and queens of African history. We all know the old adage ‘A picture is worth a thousand words.’ Therefore, maybe we don’t need a detailed historical account, maybe all we need is one picture.
What does this picture say?
Adelagun created this piece in order to use art to help us remember our history. This is just the beginning a series of pieces depicting African historical and mythological figures. You can follow Adelagun on his artstation however, we’ll be featuring all of these pieces on the African History Collective: a multimedia platform that explores the hidden gems of African History. Expect to see more artwork as well as animations, podcasts and much more.
-Ziki Nelson on behalf of Kugali: The African History Collective.
Explore the gems of African heritage through rich imagery and written pieces.