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African Comics

Comic Republic’s Amadioha is Resurrecting the Forgotten Symbols of the Nsibidi 

Amadioha is bringing the Ancient Laws of Nsibidi to the fore

Much information on African culture has been lost over the decades that now, years since we finally decided to give a fluff about our history, it is often considered a rare find to come across any collective material containing accurate traditional knowledge.

One of the most recognized of ideographic writing is the “Nsibidi”. It is an extensive pictorial form of communication said to have originated from what is now the south-eastern part of Nigeria, specifically, the Igbo tribes.

The language is made up of mostly symbols and much like the Japanese script, is said to be divided into a formal and informal text; there is even a third decorative text used by women.

These symbols , are rumored to be used in close cult sects within the Igbos even though they are at least several centuries old; early forms appeared on excavated pottery as well as what are most likely ceramic, with a range of dates from 400 to 1400 CE.

That said, there are thousands of Nsibidi symbols, of which over 500 have been recorded so obviously, our linguists aren’t happy.

Despite its apparent scarcity, there is still hope. Some forms of Nsibidi have also appeared in popular Afro-centric media, known for their brilliant representation of African history like superhero blockbuster Black Panther, and is also frequently referenced by Nnedi Okorafor in her literary works.

Page 19 of Amadioha
Amadioha responds to his summons

Although these modern forms of Nsibidi, due to its rarity have now been evolved into what is called “Neo- Nsibidi”. This is a modern form of the pictorial language in which newer, socially literate additions have been made to the original texts. A great example of this resurrected form of communication can be found in the Eponymous Nigerian comic book by Tobe Max Ezeogu, titled “Amadioha”.

Amadioha is a Nigerian Fantasy comic book which centres on the mundane life of the Former King of Eluigwe, the Igbo version of what can be described as “heaven”.

The main character, who goes by Kalu Amanu on Earth is a comic adaptation of the much revered Alusi of lightning and thunder, Amadioha. Alusi is a term used to refer to members of the Igbo pantheon.

Of all the gods and goddesses my people serve, there has been no modern representation of this divine entity until before the comic.

Tobe Max Ezeogu (writer and creator) depicts this Igbo god as an extremely powerful ruler. He is also a doting father who attempts to live out a peacefully human life with his 11-year old daughter and familiar which takes the form of a stuffed doll in the historically Yoruba city of Ibadan.

Panel from Amadioha depicting Kalu and his daughter's relationship.

Despite his obvious divinity and clarity, Kalu (Amadioha) seems jaded and avoids interacting with the humans he is forced to live with. And yet, at the same time, he is oddly drawn to them.

Haunted by the echoes of his past, it’s almost expected when the damned raise their ugly heads and attempt to rip his brooding utopia apart. Issue one begins with an attack on his “place of wasted labour” as his familiar called it, an attack which is immediately tackled by Kalu with a composure and brutality one can only get from one so charred by power and age.

Their battle reveals an intricately executed magic system heavily based on Neo-Nsibidi. We can also see traces of this in their culture , fashion ,etc.

Through the eyes of this spiritual monarch we are allowed to reflect on the culturally rich pool of myths and lore, as well as the ibo socio-cultural, political and economic beliefs.

Amadioha was created by Tobe Max Ezeogu and Kelechi Isaac Nwaogwugwu. and published by Comic Republic. Tobe helmed writing while Kelechi the art. The first issue was colored by Michael Balogun with assistance from Emmanuel Kayembe. It was lettered by Tobe’s brother, Ozo Ezeogu blah blah.

Read Amadioha here and other Comic Republic titles here.

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