Black excellence embodies a narrative of resilience, determination, and an unwavering commitment to achieving greatness, inspiring future generations to make a profound and lasting influence on society.
According to Guy Thierry Tenkouano, an Economic Analyst at ECCC, this concept signifies the empowerment and motivation for Africans to pursue excellence in their endeavours.
In line with this notion, Chekwube Okonkwo, the co-founder and Art Director of Magic Carpet Studios, recently launched his debut graphic novel titled ‘The Playmaker’ and showcased an art exhibition in Lagos. Okonkwo views this creative project as a manifestation of black excellence, aiming to revive the essence of originality that was once present and reignite the spirit of excellence within the black community.
Okonkwo, in ‘The Playmaker’, paints a poetic portrait of Africa through the eyes of a returning ‘offspring’. Deep in the Igbo heartland, Malcolm, the key character, experiences Africa in a way that leads him to deep understanding and an appreciation for “a meeting point between the supernatural and the natural world” He saw it, felt it, lived it, upset it.”
The author shared that the inspiration to write the story which took seven months, was from his passion for African liberation, the black race, and civilization.
“If you look at the Art pieces from Playmaker, you observe that it talks about historical moments, about times that we had the slave trade, the Ibo landing, and all the situations for black people,” he said. “I think the book is actually a chronology of all, capturing that essence and bringing it all again so people can know and find themselves, find their roots.”
Okonkwo explained the ‘Ibo Landing’ is an allusion to the historical moment when some Igbo people in Georgia chose to drown their ship along with the slave masters instead of allowing them to be taken as slaves. “It’s a historical moment that happened and I brought that back into the story to remind people of who we are and where we are from,” Okonkwo said.
“Buying a copy of The Playmakers exposes you to a certain level of truth, a certain level of things that have actually existed before us,” according to the author. “It opens you to history, to who you are, and helps you find your roots and it’s all about that consciousness.”
Backing this up, Obi Asika, co-founder, Social Media Week Lagos, said: “It is storytelling that changes everything, makes you believe in yourself and thereby reawakens our creative consciousness.”
“That is what Afrobeats is about, we are expressing our natural essence through the music and when you start to do that in every other aspect of life like this author, we win,” Asika said.
Kosy Okoye, a writer and an Executive Assistant, who read a chapter from the book to the audience said: “The most enlightening thing about the book is that it took me back to the importance of knowing my history and getting rid of the slave mentality because I’m not someone who really pays attention to what Westernisation has done and how it has ripped us of our heritage, our origins.”
“The artworks also made me feel like I have to go back and figure out my roots and the book is an eye opener to how much of my culture I’m missing out on because I am so focused on the present,” she said.
Ferdinand Adimefe, CEO/Founder, Magic Carpet Studio said “The Playmaker is what we’ve always wanted, to create a quality of art where people can truly connect with what we have.”
“When I was growing up, for you to globalise you have to westernise. But in this age of Africa, for you to globalise, you have to Africanise and the world is now looking to us; whether it’s Wakanda or Woman King, or The Playmaker, the age of Africa storytelling has come,” he said.