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Adunni-poster SmallerAbiku is the Yoruba word for a caste of spirit beings strangely bound to death. They are born to life as human children but die soon after their birth only to be reborn for yet another cycle of death and rebirth.

Though ageless and immortal, Abikus appear to the human eye as children beautiful beyond words. An Abiku is a scourge to mothers. A curse to families.

Adunni: The Beautiful One Has Not Yet Died is an eight-story/image ensemble built on the strange and terrifying world of an Abiku.

For millenia, Adunni has had a good run as an abiku—no bereaved family or powerful Babalawo has tried to prevent her return to the spirit world. Ages of successful, glitch-free comings and goings have made her powerful, envied by fellow Abikus, and loved by Mother Earth. But her luck runs out when she is born into the Lamorin family.

Adunni: The Beautiful One Has Not Died  is a gripping story of betrayal and lust for power. It is also a story of death and the struggle to overcome death.  Conniving and power-hungry gods are pitted against weak, selfish, and clueless humans. A pastor’s fervor is set against a Babalawo’s wisdom. A mother’s undying love is tried by a child’s terrifying power. Adunni’s story is not, for all this, a mythological fable. It occupies that weird place where mythology tips over into urban fantasy. Adunni is set in present day Lagos and written by Ayodele Olofintuade, who knows so much about Yoruba cosmology that she can break the rules in unexpected ways.

The story project began with a submission I received from Ayodele. The submission was a story about an Abiku that gets trapped against her will in the world of the living. Struck by Ayodele’s rewriting of this age-worn mythological figure, I asked for seven more stories. Here we are today, with an eight-story series set against the most enchanting artwork done exclusively for the project by Laolu Senbanjo of Afromysterics.

The accompanying artwork is an essential part of the story. Senbanjo’s art is a cross between images and stories—the way a story might appear in a dream or a trance. Crowded with colors and images, his artwork induces the feeling of being over-stimulated with sensations.  Gazing at Senbanjo’s art, one imagines time caving in folds and space becoming something quite bizarre. Whether it’s a drawing of Mandela, Achebe, a Lagos city street or a mythical figure, Laolu’s work feels like something coming from an elsewhere. There was never a doubt in my mind that Senbanjo was the only one who could do justice to the mystery and evil in which the Abiku’s life is enshrouded.

Adunni: The Beautiful One Has Not Yet Died is a curated narrative project made up of stories and conceptual artwork. The saga begins on February 19. Don’t miss it!

Want to know more about the Abiku phenomenon, read my post at Bella Naija {HERE}

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I hold a doctorate in English from Duke University and recently joined the Marquette University English faculty as an Assistant Professor. I love teaching African fiction and contemporary British novels. Brittle Paper is the virtual space/station where I play and experiment with ideas on how to reinvent African fiction and literary culture.

5 Responses to “The Beautiful One Has Not Yet Died — An African Story Ensemble” Subscribe

  1. Magunga 2014/02/18 at 11:37 #

    I am waiting

  2. Ainehi Edoro 2014/02/18 at 12:10 #

    Great!

  3. obinna Udenwe 2014/02/18 at 13:28 #

    Awesome. Let the music begin!

  4. Ainehi Edoro 2014/02/18 at 18:34 #

    Thanks Obinna!

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  1. ADUNNI By Ayodele Olofintuade — Episode 1, “Our Father” | Brittle Paper - 2014/02/19

    […] {HERE} to learn more about the […]

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