Many of us might have grown up reading Cyprian Ekwensi’s ‘The Passport of Mallam Ilia’. Anyone remember the Sanchi battle between Usman and Ilia? The prize for that fight-to-the-death was the beautiful princess, Zarah.
Magic Carpet Studios, an animation, illustration and game development studio in Lagos, has set out to repackage this timeless tale for old faithfuls and a new generation. The studio acquired the rights to the book earlier this year, and is currently making a 2D animation movie based on the book, the first of its kind to come out of Africa.
Magic Carpet, described by industry experts and enthusiasts as the ‘Disney of Africa’, is no new entrant to crossing frontiers. Its short film projects titled, ‘The Day Morning Never Came’, ‘The Reclamation’ and ‘Corruption: The Musical’, done in partnership with the Creative Youth Initiative against Corruption (CYIAC), powered by the Economic Financial Crimes Commission, beat over 700 nominations from 125 countries to win the Innovative category at the first UN Sustainable Development Goals Action Awards in Germany.
A lineup of renowned actors in Nollywood have been assembled: leading the pack is Sadiq Dabba, who has been signed up to voice Ilia while Mr. Makinde Adeniran of BBC’s ‘Story Story’, is playing the role of Casting Director.
‘The passport of Mallam Ilia’ tells the story of love, vengeance and conquest set in ancient Northern Nigeria in the 19th century. With events primarily taking place in Kano, the story chronicles the journey of a fiery young warrior who spent the rest of his life seeking vengeance for the death of his wife, Zarah, in the hands of Mallam Usman.
Sublime and rich, referencing a time before tribalism and insurgency that has since come to be associated with the North, the story unveils the beauty of pre and colonial northern Nigeria, its people, history, culture, tradition and heritage presented in the simplest form of storytelling.