Malika: Warrior Queen, an animated Nollywood movie on African history and mythology may soon become a household feature for movie buffs across Nigeria and beyond. Malika tells the story of Queen Amina of Zaria, a warrior queen who ruled much of northern Nigeria during the 16th century. This 15-minute animated movie won the best animated short story award at the Los Angeles Independent Film Festival Awards which held in July.
Malika: Warrior Queen was produced by Roye Okupe, founder of YouNeek Studios, and directed by Niyi Akinmolayan, director of the famed Wedding Party 2 and Chief Daddy. The animated movie was inspired by a graphic novel centered on Queen Amina and published by Okupe years ago. But he thought the movie-version will go places and so started with a 15-minute animated version which will have a full-length feature sequel.
He said he chose Amina as the central figure of the story because of her place in African mythology.
“I really wanted to do something deeply rooted in African history, culture, and mythology,” Okupe said. “These are things they don’t teach us in schools in Nigeria because we learn more about foreign history than our own. I didn’t know about Queen Amina growing up.”
Due to meager finances, Okupe was only able to work with 30 people to produce Malika. He raised $20,000 through Kickstarter and sourced for money elsewhere to cover production costs that included costumes and architectural designs. The production was planned for six months but it eventually took up an entire year.
Having completed the short film, Okupe intends to showcase the film at international film festivals and also pitch it to major studios with a view to getting the concept of African mythology accepted into a global content for animated movies. He said he wants children across Africa to be able to switch on their TV sets and watch Malika: Warrior Queen and other related animes rooted in African culture and myths.