About time Nigerians started celebrating Nigerians, and not the ones locked up for fraud or stealing.
Ayooluwa Elisha’s project ‘Nollywood Legends’ is a welcome project in a Nigeria that doesn’t seem to appreciate its own history. A graphic piece on Nollywood legends? Who saw this one coming? Well, I didn’t. Meet Ayooluwa Elisha.
Why did you choose to make a book on Nollywood legends, what was the inspiration?
Over the years I have noticed that when most celebrities are dead or not relevant as they were, their impact and works fades quickly. While I was working on this project I had some conversations with some young people around 15 – 20 years who don’t know some of these individuals, I think that is not fair to the hard work and dedication these guys have put into the industry. For the past couple of years I have tried to watch and study some of the works of this people and it’s nothing short of brilliance and excellence, another thing that inspired this project is documentation, I think in Africa we’re not doing enough of these, one of the main targets of this book are kids, if some young people don’t know some of these individuals am pretty sure as time goes on kids growing up might never know who they are or were.
Personally, what is it you admire about these Nollywood legends?
What I really admire about these Nollywood Legends is the passion and dedication they had, when most most of these people were coming into the industry there wasn’t platforms to give proper exposure to their works and personality like we have today, there was no social media or anything like that they could use to promote their works and themselves but they still put in over 100 percent, when people do things just for passion I think its really work admiring. We have celebrities today that have done far less than these individuals and they seem to be more famous or even seem successful than they were. I think the Nollywood industry is more lucrative today than it was back in the days, there are no several means of monetization of contents, so it’s safe to say these people didn’t come into to the industry for fame and money, it was majorly out of love, dedication, and passion.
Do you think Nollywood in itself celebrates these legends enough? If yes, how? If not, how do you think they can appreciate and celebrate them more?
I personally don’t think the Nollywood as an industry is doing well enough to celebrate these guys, I think more can be done example of this is what Kunle Afolayan did for this Father Adeyemi Afolayan (Ade love) Concerning the ‘Ade love’ 20 years remembrance by putting some of his old films back to this cinemas, by viewing the movies for free in his hometown, that’s a really amazing way to keep the legacy of an actor going for years, things like that should be done for a lot of these individuals, and it shouldn’t be handled by individuals, I believe if the whole industry can once in while put it’s weight behind similar ideas like this its going to be really impactful.
We don’t have the stats, but it seems there’s a resurgence in appreciation of art by a larger number of Nigerians? Do you agree? Why do you think so?
Yes, I agree, I think this resurgence can be tied to a number of things like Social Media, websites, blogs and platforms focused on promoting art ( like Farabale and others ) and some contemporary art galleries. More artist are beginning to take good advantage of social media platforms to share and promote their works which are very good things because people can only appreciate or see what they see or know about, a like, share, retweet or repost can mean a little more to an artist.
Please, tell us more about this book?
Nollywood legends is a book designed to immortalize and project the legacies of some selected Nigerian Actors and Actresses. The book is illustrated in cartooned sequences of each of these characters beautifully niched and portrayed in their cultural context; which also entails a brief history and influence of the characters.
This book is just a first edition, I know there are more great actors and actress to be celebrated, so based on the feedback and suggestion from this edition the other coming editions will be made and like I mentioned earlier the main target of this book and kids, and the younger generations to come, so I will try to look for ways to get this across to them starting from a small scale.
What other plans do you have for this piece? Do you think Nollywood as an organization would take interest in this book and may want to work on more pieces with you?
I Plan to print out some copies of these books and pin up posters once in a while and distribute to kids in small schools and charity homes, and maybe in the future do a mass production and share in on a bigger scale. Well, I can only hope Nollywood as an organization takes interests in projects like this because it might encourage more artists to want to do more to celebrate these individuals.
Where do you see this piece in the next couple of years?
I hope this piece inspire more people to want to do more projects like this and it will be a thing of joy to see people learn some few things about thing these individuals and the impact they’ve had in the industry.
As an artist who lives solely from creating, around how much did it cost to produce this piece?
Putting a cost on a project like this is quite hard, and sincerely I don’t I can, I have being quite fortunate, all the people that helped to work on making this a reality did it out of love for the idea, but it took about 6 months ( off and on ) of some serious hard work to put the out
Which other artists work with you on this project?
Not only artists, Oseni Oluwaseun my friend and partner gave guardians and helped out on the illustrations, Ibiyemi Ayodele a good friend too helped with the contents, the Biographies of this individuals, Emmanuel Oyewole a lecturer at fine and Applied Arts Department in Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile – Ife wrote the introduction, all these people and few others that gave moral support were mentioned in the credits and acknowledgement of the book.
What’s your take? Should the various forms of Art be for only the elite? Or for everybody?
Art is not and can never be subjected to a specific class of people.
Are you working on any new projects? Would you like to share with us?
Yes, I am, I’m currently working on a music version of this book Naija Music Legends, which should hopefully be out soon too, and a couple of other projects with similar themes and ideas.
You stated that you would be giving out printed copies of this project. Why did you choose to give out even the printed copies for free?
The project is 100 percent free, I don’t intend to make any kind of money from this, none of this individuals or their families were contacted before putting together this piece so I think it will be wrong to make money off this, and the printed copies are just my own little way of giving back to the society too.
You can read Ayooluwa’s Nollywood Legends here.