With the growing conversation about the need for diverse comics and representation in superhero films, it’s refreshing to see an authentic, innovative take on the genre from a West African filmmaker getting lots of love online.
Oya: Rise of the Orisas (sometimes styled Orixa or Orishas) is a short film from Nigerian writer and director Nosa Igbinedion featuring an all-black cast and a really cool concept: the Orixa, traditional gods of West African Yoruban folklore, have returned to the modern-day world as badass superheroes. Think Percy Jackson but with West African roots instead of Greece.
The 12-minute short film sees Mother Oya, the god of the hurricane, inhabiting a follower and coming to the rescue of a kidnapped student, an eerie echo of real life:
The film has already been screened at film fests worldwide, and production of a feature-length version is planned to begin later this month in Brazil. Additionally, Igbinedion’s film studio is releasing a comic book series further exploring the world of Oya, available for pre-order:
The studio also recently announced plans to shoot a webseries accompanying the story: Yemoja: Rise of the Orisha. On Facebook alone, the Oya series has garnered 15,000 Likes so far—not bad for a debut superhero.
Clearly the Afrofuturism of Black Panther and increasing interest in the African comics scene aren’t isolated phenomenons. And as OK Africa notes, Oya follows the post-apocalyptic Ethiopian film Crumbs, released earlier this year, in the trend of African science-fiction filmmaking:
Fans wanting to follow the continued exploits of the Orixa can follow the project on Twitter or Facebook.
Screengrab via Vimeo