7 March 2016Orisha'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 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.
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
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