“ITAN-the story”: PRODUCER, “AYO JAYESINMI” TELLS US THE SECRET BEHIND IT

“The most powerful person in the world is the storyteller. The storyteller sets the vision, values and agenda of an entire generation that is to come.” – Steve Jobs

From childhood, I have been fascinated with storytelling.

I spent my early childhood years in the UK where we got tucked into bed and listened to bedtime stories from the bible or a collection of Hans Andersen’s Fairy Tales. I climbed Jack’s Beanstalk, went in search of Rumple Stiltskin, walked the yellow brick path and danced with Cinderella in her dingy room when she returned from the ball.

I learnt from a very young age, the power of vivid imagination and the ability to live uncaged in worlds you could create.

That I believe is the bedrock of harmony – the ability to build various perspectives, coupled with ones own, to build a beautiful convincing story.

Both my parents were very family inclined, conversational and proud of their African/ Nigerian roots, so whilst we had bedtime stories from Hans Andersen, we had times we sat around my mother and she would teach us African games, proverbs and stories. I never got tired of the stories of the very cunning tortoise. And some of the do’s and do not’s I have today are crafted out of the many troubles he got himself into. We danced, played games like ten-ten, suwe (hop scotch) and learnt some of the really sonorous songs and choruses that accompanied these stories.

On my Father’s part, every visit to places like Madam Tussauds, Trafalgar Square Buckingham Palace was not only an opportunity to educate us on the history of the place eg Guy Fawkes and the many wax works at Madam Tussaudses, but also to weave in African folklore that envisioned us or taught us some morals.

It was at Trafalgar Square as we held the Pigeon’s, that he told us the story of the attributes of the rare bird – the Eagle. I walked with my head high from then because, I was born an eagle – rare, prestigious, flying almost next to the sun!

These stories that have shaped my life since I was a 3 – 4 year old are still very much a part of me. African stories, however with the use of Proverbs, imagery , song and communal setting are an excellent way of envisioning our world. Stories passed from one generation to another generation not only shape society but give a common vision , common values and etch an identity and strong sense of purpose on our hearts. So all through my life and various careers that I’ve had, story telling was the thread that ran through it all. What does an Accountant, Human Resource Practitioner, Change Management Professional, Writer and a Theatre Arts Practitioner have in common? Storytelling! Albeit it to different audiences, in different formats and ‘languages’ and perspectives. Each person trying to shape its audience perspectives through his ‘narratives’.

As a writer, my delight is to transport readers into the world I create. But most importantly, its one that offers options for real conflicts. To paint these pictures even more vividly I have produced some of them as plays and followed up with conversations on various platforms.

For example, as a Human Resource Practitioner, I’m very interested in the impact of generational diversity in the community, workplace and family and the emerging future.

ITAN the Story (Asiko’s Quest) is my attempt to capture the impact of cross generational conflicts and paint a picture of a harmonious communal living whereby each gene reaction in spite its weaknesses or strengths, gleam off each other. This is laced with strong Adfrican culture exhibited in dance, costume, lingo, ceremonies , cuisine and music. But this was still not enough to capture the requisite conversations across the divide.

Also my craving for good quality modern African Stories triggered my collaboration with Comic Republic to create comic characters, comic books and merchandise to tell themed stories and stories that celebrate our culture.

In addition to the play, ITAN the story is expressed as comic book series, flash cards, story books and merchandise. We also plan an animated cartoon series, book buffets and costume parades to tell the story.

We seek partners, investors, collaborators and strategic alliances to fully birth the project.

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