Acacia Trees Are Stalking Me (Another True Story)
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I swear I don’t make this things up. It just happens to me! I think my blog is stalking me!
Anyway, you might remember about a month ago, I wrote an article titled the Singularity Of The African Writer you can read it here.
In that article I talked about a guy named Simon Stevens who compiled a collage of about 36 book covers of novels written by African writers or novels that had an African theme to it. Ordinarily there is nothing spectacular about what Simon did until you realize that all 36 novels featured an Acacia tree on the cover! And this were not obscure authors, it was Chimamanda Adichie, Wole Soyinka and even Ernest Hemingway …. all treated to the same Acacia tree book cover.
Well fast forward a few weeks. I am in the middle of the redesign of the okadabooks.com website. So our designers (awesome guys by the way) send us the first draft of the home page design … and on the front cover is the shadowy image of a Rhino.
In my head I am like … Rhino + Okadabooks? I don’t see the correlation …. it just seemed off to me, but I could not place my finger on why I felt that way. So I make my mark-ups to design (see picture below) and tell the designers in quite clear terms to kill the Rhino which is another way to say replace the Rhino with something else.
And so they did. They replaced the Rhino with something else …
Before I continue let me state that as you can see from the above picture I gave them other suggestions like …. to try a bike icon. But that suggestion was not even used. Instead something else was used, it was that same thing that Simon Stevens noticed when he created his collage of African books the same thing on the cover of half of a yellow sun and so many other African books. It was the Acacia tree!
Right there on our second okadabooks design without any persuasion from us or any hints whatsoever was that picture that has become for some weird reason a representation of Africa when it comes to our books. The dreaded Acacia tree. Soon the reason why I asked for the Rhino to be killed started making sense, it was because it was too cliche … too African cliche.
Now I have no idea why the designer picked those images, maybe it was a case of coincidence, maybe that is the image that tends to pop up when people search for African books, or maybe it is the same spirit that entered the numerous African book covers designers across the globe … I don’t know. But this was my exact response to our designers …
The Rhino and Accai tree you have used are too cliché and too serious for the vision of okadabooks. I want to go beyond the typical mold of Africa being depicted with animals and people reading under trees, I want it a bit modernized.
Here’s what they created next …
Now I know the characters are not quite rocking my favorite afro hairstyles yet … that will be fixed on future design updates. But I do think this new look breaks the cliche design that I (and several other people) might have picked several years ago. Luckily I pushed back and got something sexier than a Rhino humping a ___________.
PS: Let me know what you think about the new design in the comments section below. Would love to hear your honest feedback.
Written By Okechukwu Ofili of ofilispeaks.com
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