“Increased imagination, tolerance for and interest in diverse ideas, spiritualities, religions and people, as well as social awareness” capture speculative fiction writer, Nnedi Okorafor-Mbachu’s response on the impact of Africans embracing all storytelling genres. This is a most compelling answer, and for comic book lovers, Agbara does just that.
The Agbaraa comic is the needle and thread of Igbo culture and modernity. Agbara tells of a spirit’s earthly adventures as punishment for her refusal to chose sides in a war between angels and demons (and no, Dan Brown has nothing to do with it).
Created by the Kalu brothers, the comic is unapologetically African in outlook, celebrating indigenous religious practice in contention with modern misunderstandings and stereotypes, by supposedly progressive folk who should know better.
Just like Nnedi’s response, Agbara especially calls for tolerance of diverse spiritualities, religions and people, and asserts co-existence between the new and old. It speaks of culture at a crossroads that instead of being disjointed, can be one and the same. Agbara demystifies African spirituality as a force for evil as popularly depicted in especially Nollywood movies and shows it isn’t at all different from what people associate with being better.
Agbara almost reads like a poetic Nigerian novel laden with proverbs that tug at your brain until you completely and joyously decipher them (the few times you can’t, you should consult a dictionary. It can be verbose sometimes). It is filled with suspense and also draws you in with its exploration of (im)mortality and human frailty.
Agabara is a real MVP who is being courted by both angels and demons. She’s fire and she’s ice. Being such a coveted gem, it’s no wonder she’s already inspired some beautiful cos play.
She’s the kind of character girls can easily look up to. Her situation with the angels and demons is a subtle metaphor for the struggles girls might face while they school or start their careers. Is it the easy flamboyant path where souls are easily lost or is it the narrow and thorny, where success at best feels like a far fetched dream?
It is also representative of the inner turmoils many an African might face. Issues of identity, the temptation of blind copying to the detriment of our heritage; pervasive gullibility wearing a miracle and salvation mask that capitalizes on people’s fear and misunderstanding of the unknown.
Agbara is published by Vortex Inc, a Nigerian creative content company. Vortex Inc. is championing the African narrative with its lineup of characters who breathe and eat as Africans would, as well as imagine new and exciting possibilities tailored to the African experience. Through its franchises, the young company hopes to export African culture to the world. A most noble mission that comic titles such as Agbara, Mumu Juju, Ojuju, Eternals and many more can achieve.