How an 18-year-old is putting Nigerians in Space

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NASA

2025 Nigerians are colonising space. NASA has been redefined — Nigerians Altering Space Association. And a young feisty woman is commanding a ship on a voyage like no other.

“You should see this guy, you should see this guy”, Olivier kept telling me. Olivier is this Kick *** ninja VR expert in Vancouver, whom in the space of two weeks we’d come to riff off VR ideas, shared creativity spaces, and I had the pleasure of cooking an African dish for his mother-in-law from China, so, yeah, his words carried some sway.

Ed’s his name and he’s doing this thing in VR which is really impressive, says Olivier. Unfortunately, Olivier had his hands full with a number of projects, so asked if I was interested in meeting him. “Yeah”, I said curiously.

Next day, I’m presenting at UBC’s Emerging Media lab — you know ideas from over there and left side. My shtick about VR? Stop looking at the world through the eyes of Newton, Renaissance art and Euclid. All these three drew up a blue print for how we would view our environments, from a fixed point of view, with perspective, and that straight lines don’t meet. They do! but in a world beyond traditional thinking, otherwise look to Edo period painting.

Then it’s the turn of designer/artists from Emily Carr University of Art and Design. I’m into what they’re doing in innovation: seeds germinating under iridescent light, which when scanned as prints provide a haunting effect (see photo below, left of Maria). Then the last question of the day is asked. It’s not even a question, a sort of throw away comment to which Alan winding down says, “We’ve got this Nigerian student who’s doing some interesting work in VR”.

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Maria Latin, and Alan Goldman an Olivier Leroux

OK, Alan’s got my double whammy attention. It’s Ed again. After the conference we meet and chat, find out it’s a small world and agree for a time to meet Ed. My time’s tight. In three days I’m off back to the UK, but Ed, Ed, whoever you are, I’m really curious.

Wednesday: 10 am

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VR story on timber, Emily Carr at 5 O’clock and my first ever live game of Hockey — Panthers vs Cannucks — what’s not to like?

The morning has its drama, but that’s a whole story in itself — a tree being felled hits Olivier’s drone out of the sky. Then we spend 30 minutes looking for it and the camera in the undergrowth. We find drone and camera. We complete our mission with students and head off to Emily Carr.

Ed, five-eleven, perhaps six feet, is on the shy side, but his works truly speaks for itself. Truthfully, I need more time, which I don’t have, but as a quick grab, I have an idea. We’ll do a short interview so he can show others what he does.

Nigerians as the heroes exploring space, going on wild adventures. I was always into comics and graphic novels, says Ed, and had a pretty much active imagination.

Graphic novels have had a revival in interest over the last decade with Hamid Sulaiman Freedom Hospital, Guy Delisle and Helge Dascher’s Burma Chronicles and The Influencing Machine: Brooke Gladstone on the Media by graphic novel/ journalist Brooke Gladstone and cartoonist Josh Neufeld. Fifteen years ago, Rob Chiu, a chum, and now one of the most sought after commercial directors created this, asking me to be the reporter inside the piece

Ed’s in good company, but before we start, he needs a name for his genre. NASA, is a no brainer. Panography, I tell him comes from the mix of his acknowledgment of pan africanism and graphic novels. A phone call to his Mum yields a new word to tame his style.

Ed is reversioning a dominant narrative by placing Nigerians at the helm of his sci-fi adventures tacking issues that are cast in allegories: friendship, race, who we are, and why heroes are rarely black. Michael Burnham, from Star Trek, comes to mind, or what’s happening on the streets of London with a campaign to recast favourite leads in a film.

And then off course Black Panther and its narrative of #Afrofuturism. However, the remarkable twist with Ed isn’t just the speed at which he works, but also the medium.

All about ED

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Edward’s work in VR

Ed’s one of the new breed of VR architects who craft their imagination and build their worlds in a 3D virtual space. This is inception. He does this painstakingly wearing a Viser. The result for you the user is to walk through the corridors of his concepts, his mind- and the results are beautiful.

There’s a sense here that Ed’s ideas are crystallised, which is the sign of his talent, but there’s also the lingering voice that if you’re a Hollywood producer, Silicon Valley start-up or someone with a passion for helping next gen. talent you’ll give Ed the leg up he so richly deserves. Edward Madojemu, @Ed7Mad a name you could be hearing from in the future.

Here’s the short interview/film piece I produced on Ed using the cinema journalism practice.

Like that, you might like this. Black Panther’s Blue Print.

Dr David Dunkley Gyimah is the Asper Visiting Professor of Journalism at the University of British Columbia, Canada and heads up the digital and interactive storytelling LAB at the University of Westminster. You can find out more about his projects, from interviewing a former head of the CIA, working in Apartheid South Africa and filming inspirational video makers near the Syrian border. FF @viewmagazine

Written by

Top Writer & Creative Technologist, Int. Award Winner. Cinemajournalist. Cardiff Uni @jomec. PhD (Dublin). Visiting Prof UBC, Ex BBC/C4News. Apple profiled.

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