Lucky James

  • University of MaiduguriPhD Scholarship Holder

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Old Tales with New Voices: Sustainability of The Höba (Kilba) Folktale Tradition through Digital Storytelling

Folktales are an integral part of most African societies. Value systems and moral codes are often enshrined in folktales and passed on for several generations. Folktales are basically shared to entertain, educate, model positive behavioural patterns and to also preserve the cultural values of a people. Howbeit, Nkoli and Okoye (2016) recounts that folktales and other cultural practices are fast declining and on the verge of extinction. This is especially visible in Northeast Nigeria due to several factors such as the upsurge of insurgency attacks on local communities causing the dwellers to abandon their ancestral homes and cultural practices in search of a safe haven, rural urban migration, globalization, modern entertainments and technological advancement. These aforementioned issues consequently raises the need to promote, preserve and sustain the culture of folktales in a fast changing world. Amongst several sustainable means that could be explored and researched into is the use of digital storytelling in form of animated cartoons.

Animated cartoons do not only serve as an art of entertainment and moral instruction but also as pedagogical (educational) tool. Oyero and Oyesomi (2014) cited that over 57% of children watch cartoon programme every day, 24% watch cartoons at least three times a week. This shows how significant cartoon programme is. However, Aládé, Fọlárànmí and Ọdẹ́jóbí (2015) reiterate that Nigeria produces few or no indigenous animation stories, while most of the animation stories viewed are imported. Equally, in terms of character features, content (values, morals, lessons etc.) most foreign animated cartoons are poorly suited for children in Nigeria because they do not entirely conform with her peculiar socio-cultural values.

This study therefore seeks to:

  • Explore the usage of indigenous features in creating animated cartoon characters on Kilba folktales.
  • Evaluate the animated prototype in the aspect of content, visual appeal and comprehension of the messages behind the tales
  • Look at the present condition of the Kilba folktale practice in Northeast Nigeria
  • Develop conceptual models and theoretical framework on the fusion of indigenous animated cartoons and folktales

The study will be employing a qualitative research method. Oral interviews, focused group discussions will also be used as tools for data collection. A conceptual model of a story board will be developed followed by the creation of a short-animated prototype film which will be shown on a group of audience and thereafter evaluated.

The following are some of the key research questions for this study:

  • What are some common elements or features seen amongst the Kilba people and environment that can be employed as animation characters?
  • In what ways do the animated characters relate to the folktales and culture of the people?
  • What are the apparent conditions of the Kilba folktale practices at the moment?
  • How can a conceptual model and theoretical framework on the synthesis of indigenous animated cartoon and folktales be established?

The study aims to add to the theoretical frameworks on digital storytelling and other forms of edutainment.



Lucky James is a graphic and multimedia designer. He holds Master and Bachelor of Art degrees in Industrial Design respectively, from Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria, Nigeria. As an art teacher, he holds a Nigeria Certificate in Education in Fine and Applied Arts (Double Major). James is presently admitted for a PhD programme at the Centre for the Study and Promotion of Cultural Sustainability, University of Maiduguri, Nigeria. He has a strong passion for using creativity and innovations in solving social communication problems. As part of giving back to his community he engages in training teenagers and young adult in skill acquisition and entrepreneurship in order to promote self-reliance and to contribute in the economic development of his country.

James research interests include design for cultural sustainability, graphic design for social communication, brand/product design and development. He is currently a resident lecturer with the Department of Industrial Design, University of Maiduguri, Borno State, Nigeria. James is a native of the Kilba people of northeast Nigeria. He is interested in music, movies, artistic works, studying documentaries and biographies.