Comic Republic is reminding Nigerian comic lovers of the beauty of traditional names
There was a time when comic-following culture was a foreign in Nigeria, now, however, there has been a significant evolution in this area as more people are becoming fans of comics, be it a passing interest in the Boondocks or unadulterated love for the Avengers. In addition to this has been a growing fan base for comics created by Nigerians, which is what Jide Martin must have thought when he established Comic Republic in 2013. Comic Republic is an online comic company dedicated to promoting positive attributes of the Nigerian superheroes featured in stories which are free for public consumption.
The superheroes have everyday Nigerian names and this makes it easy for people to identify with them easily. With names ranging from Ireti, Aje, Eru to Avonome, Comic Republic advocates for self-identification and pride in one’s own mother tongue when it comes to their selection of names. In Nigeria, it is normal to find that young people would rather be called by their western names as opposed to their traditional names. Comic Republic is gradually awakening everyone’s consciousness to the fact that we can have cool superheroes with traditional/local names, meaning people with such names can see themselves equally as cool.
In Nigeria and the crisis of cultural identity in the era of globalization, Dons Eze wrote about how acculturation (the process by which cultural elements pass over from one culture to another and which gives rise to new cultural traits in the cultures that meet) contributes to the acceptance level of everything foreign as opposed to the traditional or local. Eze suggests it is the reason why Africans ultimately prefer to be associated with languages, arts, religion, dress codes and music that are not African.
“The African is thus torn between the culture of his birth and the domineering influence of Western culture. He loses his personality and is therefore neither wholly African, nor wholly European. He is a split personality. In the midst of that confusion, the African despises his culture and feigns ignorance, or feels shy about his roots. He begins to openly identify with everything foreign. He wears foreign clothes, bears foreign names, watches foreign films and movies, and communicates in foreign languages”, Eze proffers in his journal.
Recently, Quartz Africa tagged the Comic Republic startup as a renaissance of ‘made in Africa’ content. Even when the superheroes have foreign names, they also have traditional names which are the first of its kind in the country. According to the platform, one of the comic characters, Guardian Prime aka black Superman, was launched to take after the character in the movie, Man of Steel and he represents the ever present Nigerian can-do spirit.
The CEO of Comic Republic, Jide Martin told Quartz in an interview that depicting four comic superheroes as women show that in Nigeria, women are no longer relegated to the background in all sectors of everyday life. “Today’s Nigeria, we are very indifferent to whether someone is a man or woman. I wouldn’t say there was any strategic decision. It is just a way of life for us,” he said.
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