Comic Book Superheroes & Nigerian Politics

American Superheroes

Captain America, Wonder Woman, Superman, Batman, Spider-man. What effect did American superheroes have on the psyche of American society?

Comic books are more than agnostic art, the history of comic books in the USA and particularly of action comics since World War II show that comics can be a medium for political expression. For many years comics have been use to tell the American story and more subtly to promote certain political and social agendas; from war to peacetime politics, from rights movements to changing social norms.

Marvel Comics recently announced the release of a new comic series with a Muslim-American girl as the teenage superhero.

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Kamala Khan, new Muslim-American superhero by Marvel Comics

During the Golden Age of comics (1938 to 1950) comics were used to bolster support for Allied forces against the Axis forces. American comic book companies showcased heroes such as Captain America prevailing over the Axis Powers like Adolf Hitler. Superman and Batman, star-spangled Wonder Woman, The Shield and Captain America were all hugely popular during World War II and most US presidents since the Golden Age have featured one way or another in mainstream superhero comics. 

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Wonder Woman

And for good reason. Danny Fingeroth, author of  Superman on the Couch: What Superheroes Really Tell Us about Ourselves and Our Society thinks he know why comic book superheroes have continued to matter so much to so many of us over the past several decades. He defines a hero as “someone who rises above his or her fears and limitations to achieve something extraordinary…a hero embodies what we believe is best in ourselves”. More so superheroes who have fantastic powers, strength of character and a system of positive values, and a will of steel to defend those values. If ever there was a society that needed the kind of subliminal reconditioning that superheroes can offer it would be Nigeria – today.

That’s what Farafina and Nigerian comic book buff will be discussing today, 5.30pm at a public roundtable discussion at the Bogobiri Festival. Details are:

Venue: Bogobiri, 9, Maitama Sule Street off Awolowo Road (near Falomo), South-West Ikoyi, Lagos

Date: Sat 9th Nov 2013

Time: 5.30pm – 6.45pm

Theme: “Comic books, graphic novels and patriotism: Can Nigerian comic books influence society and politics?” 

Panel includes Yona Oyegun-Masade (moderator) of Farafina, publishers of Abraham Oshoko’s June 12: Annulment , Adeniran Adeniji publisher of Uhuru Comics and Ibrahim Ganiyu illustrator of June XII comics.

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Right after the open discussion (which takes place in the Bogobiri Gallery), Keziah Jones, in concert, launches his latest album, ‘Captain Rugged’, aptly inspired by the comic book culture. You don’t want to miss either event.

June 12: the Game of Thrones

By Amatesiro Dore

Book Excerpt

June 12 1993: Annulment by Abraham Oshoko (Graphic Novel, 289 pages. Farafina Books, 2013)

This is a sick book about a sick nation, sketched and written by a gifted artist. This is not fantasy fiction like A Games of Thrones by George R. R. Martin where knights and kings wage wars for the Iron Throne with the aid of dragons, magic, swords, and battleships. June 12 1993: Annulment by Abraham Oshoko is real and non-fictional. Nigerian politicians and military men are fighting for Aso Rock with billion naira bribes, revenue embezzlements, fraudulent lies, currency manipulations, character assassinations, and betrayal of friendships. If this is fiction, I would accuse Oshoko of being a very sick man, but these are historical facts, and they are ill.

When copies of this book arrived at the Murtala Mohammed International Airport, they were intercepted by men of the State Security Service. The glossy paged graphic novel, designed in a comic book style, received an august reception fit for precious political arts. The SSS delayed distribution and deliberated over “seditious” comments in the book. They withheld five copies for their corporate enlightenment and failed to send us a review, but they permitted Kachifo to take delivery of the remaining copies of June 12. Why? The SSS are right about this: most Nigerians don’t read. The secrets of Aso Rock are safely hidden in the coloured pages of June 12 1993: Annulment; confiscating the book is only going to drum up desired publicity for these classified pages.

Quotes from political pundits and national players peppered the ten chapters of this book. The book covers the annulment days of June 21st -23rd 1993 to the Palace Coup days of November 15th – 18th 1993. It is set in the following mental wards in Nigeria: Aso Rock, Aguda Guest House, MKO Abiola’s private jet and Ikeja mansion, Yar Adua’s compound, the National Assembly, Lagos State Governor’s Office, Dodan Barracks, Babangida’s mansion in Minna, and all other places where Nigeria is decided. June 12, 1993 is the manipulation of the people, by the people, and for the leaders. It is a struggle for federal power, the complicity of our royal fathers, and a record of the cash and carry politics of our political and military leaders. All the saints are villains, and all the bad guys are doing their best for Nigeria.

June 12 is also an economic crisis. The book reveals the seventy kobo fuel price, before the crisis, and the 500% increment to five naira per litre after the June 12 debacle. June 12 is beyond a democratic struggle, the right of every citizen to sell their vote to the highest bidder, and the military hypocrisy about civilian corrupt practises. In Babangida’s speech about the reasons for his annulment of the June 12 elections, he claimed over 2.1 billion naira was spent by both political parties (founded and funded by him), and that he could not swear in a President that had encouraged the campaign of divide and rule…blah blah blah.

The book reveals how the Central Bank of Nigeria was indebted to the bankrupted Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation (or verse versa), and the foreign reserve was depleted within weeks after June 12.

Nigerians should read and remember the conspiratorial roles of Olusegun Obasanjo, Shehu Musa Yar Adua, Anthony Anenih, Ibrahim Babangida, Baba Gana Kingibe, David Mark, Arthur Nzeribe, Uche Chukwumereji, Ibrahim Dasuki, Ernest Shonekan, Sani Abacha, Joshua Dogonyaro, Oladipo Diya, and MKO Abiola, in an event known as June 12, which can be described as the sin of the nation.

Na wa o!

Na wa o!

Sick!

JUNE 12 1993: Annulment (Hardback: N4,500)

JUNE 12 1993: Annulment (Paperback: N3,000)

KONGA.COM, and at Kachifo Limited: 253 Herbert Macaulay Way, Yaba, Lagos. Tel: 01-7406741, 0807 7364217.

Also Available  in Lagos:

– Quintessence: Falomo Shopping Complex, Ikoyi.
– The Hub Media Store: The Palms Shopping Mall, Lekki.
– Patabah: Shop B18, Adeniran Ogunsanya Shopping Mall, Surulere.
– The Booksellers Limited: Pan African University, LBS, Km 49 Lekki Expressway, Ajah.
– Lanterna Bookstores: 13 Oko-Awo Close, off Adetokunbo Ademola Street, Victoria Island.

In Abuja:
– The Booksellers Limited: Ground Floor, City Plaza, opposite Biobak Restaurant, Rubuka Close, off Ahmadu Bello Way, Garki II.
– Chapters Books Limited: F7 Omega Centre, Aminu Kano Crescent, Wuse II.

In Port Harcourt:
– Charams Bookshop: 10 Shop 105, Gods Grace Plaza, Peter Odili Road, Trans Amadi, P/H.
– Rainbow Bookshop: 20 Igbodo Street, Old G.R.A.
– Chapters Books Limited: Bovatti Building, 78 Woji Road, G.R.A. Phase II

In Ibadan:
– The Booksellers Limited: 52 Magazine Road, Jericho.

Abraham Oshoko: “It was the first time in Nigerian history as a nation that an election was held that was free and fair and free of electoral violence and malpractice.”

Abraham Oshoko, author and illustrator of the June 12 graphic novels talks about his newest addition to the June 12 series – June 12, 1993: Annulment and also what it means to be a graphic novelist.

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1. What did you find most challenging in writing June 12: Annulment?

The research…piecing together all the details from numerous sources.

2. Was June 12: Annulment easier to write than the first June 12?

Yes and No. Yes because I have researched and done something like this before (even though there were differences in conceptualisation) and no because the style of this new volume is different from the initial one.

Let me explain.  The first book (being the first one), shifted between prose and reportage. It was like that because it was my first time and the amount of information gathered during the research work was so staggering that it was difficult to decide how much information should come in and how it should be presented. Should it be prose, documentary, poetry, comedy or tragicomedy?

However, for this new book, I settled for prose. I thought; why not tell the story from the perspective of each of the players? Also, why not turn the players themselves into actual characters so that even though the story is non-fiction, it could be told in a way that will be appealing and yet intriguing to the reader without compromising the truth?

So you have a story that takes us into the reasoning of Sani Abacha on why he really believed it was his ‘turn’ to be head of state; or why IBB felt he had no choice but to go along with the annulment or why MKO stood his ground that he won an election and therefore he has to rule etc.

3. How did you conduct your research?

By gathering books, journals and articles written by all sides of the controversy. So there were books written by people close to Babangida, MKO, reports of eyewitness meetings with Abacha, Shonekan and so on. There were also personal interviews from most of the leading figures of that era.

After this, the facts have to be cross checked with other research materials.

It was records from news magazines like Tell, The News, Newswatch, African Concord etc. that strengthened the chronological order in the graphic novel.

4. Why did the June 12 elections stand out for you, after all there were other elections that were sabotaged in one way or the other?

It was the first time in Nigerian history as a nation that an election was held that was free and fair and free of electoral violence and malpractice. This is also the view of all the members of the Nigerian Electoral Monitoring Group and all the international observers from several foreign countries. So it was a monumental event that should be recorded properly.

 5. Did you feel that you were objective when writing June 12?

Yes. The goal was to avoid writing propaganda and faithfully chronicle the Nigerian history so that posterity would have an accurate history as much as possible. MKO Abiola was not spared in the book. People who were close to him spoke freely of his shortcomings as a person and as a leader; events surrounding him were depicted the way they actually happened. Babangida was not spared either but he wasn’t also unduly victimized. The truth was told according to what really happened by piecing together all parts of the puzzle and fitting them together to give us the whole picture.

6. What message would you like your readers to take from June 12: Annulment?

We need to be highly informed about our past and soberly draw lessons from it as we decide where we intend to go as a nation and as individuals from henceforth.

7. Do you write the story first and then draw the graphics or do the graphics come first for you?

Of course I have to write first. After researching different materials, collation is done and then plot is built after which I write the script. It is after this that the process of illustrating begins.

8. What would you say were the differences between a graphic novel and a comic?

Apart from the volume (comics are regularly 22 to 25 pages; in other words, a single graphic novel chapter), graphic novels are more mature. Comics may be for children but graphic novels (being actually novels but in illustrated format) definitely have a wider appeal.

9. Your portrayal of Babangida and the complexities of his position is really in-depth. Would you say he is the main character of June 12?

I wouldn’t say he is the main character as there are three main characters – Abiola, Babangida and Abacha and there are several supporting characters like Shehu Yar’Adua, General Obasanjo, Ernest Shonekan, Omo Omoruyi, Beko Ransome Kuti on the side of the activists and so on.

Abraham Oshoko

10. What would your advice to other writers and graphic designers be?

Keep at it. You learn to write or draw by actually doing it. Also, take some time off to study and enjoy the works of other gifted minds!

Finally, “There is a spirit in man, and the inspiration of the Almighty gives them understanding.” 

JUNE 12 1993: ANNULMENT is the second in this multi-volume series by Abraham Oshoko. The book can be pre-ordered by emailing orders@kachifo.com, calling +2348077364217 or tweeting at us: @farafinabooks

Upon release, JUNE 12, 1993: THE ANNULMENT will be available in all major bookstores across the country.

 

Coming Soon: JUNE 12, 1993: The Annulment

June 12 Cover(130529)Kachifo Limited, publishers of Farafina Books, is proud to announce the forthcoming release of JUNE 12, 1993: THE ANNULMENT the second installment in the historical graphic novel series by Abraham Oshoko. The book tells the important and intriguing story of one of the most important days in Nigeria’s history, June 12 1993 and the events surrounding it.

Release date is June 12, 2013.

ABOUT THE BOOK
On the 12th of June 1993, a presidential election, adjudged free and fair by an overwhelming majority of observers, took place in Nigeria. A few days after, its results were suspended; and barely a week later, Nigerians were given a new word to add to their vocabulary, ‘annulment’.

What really happened in those tumultuous days between June and November 1993? For the first time ever, the full story, with its intricacies, intrigue and complexities, is told from the perspectives of all its major players, in this full-colour graphic novel.

JUNE 12 1993: ANNULMENT is the second in this multi-volume series by Abraham Oshoko.

JUNE 12, 1993: THE ANNULMENT can be pre-ordered by emailing orders@kachifo.com, calling +2348077364217 or tweeting at us: @farafinabooks

Upon release, JUNE 12, 1993: THE ANNULMENT will be available in all major bookstores across the country.

June 12, 1993: The Annulment

By Abraham Oshoko

ISBN: 978-978-51084-4-6

Published in 2013 by Kachifo Limited, under its Farafina imprint