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 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.

home page ofili commentsb

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.

twitterWritten By Okechukwu Ofili of
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Author: Ofili

Words by Okechukwu Ofili of
Follow him on Twitter
Stalk him on Instagram
Read his crazy titled books on konga or okadabooks
Feed his children at…no wait he has no kids…. 

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30 comments on “Acacia Trees Are Stalking Me (Another True Story)

  1. Lol @ the true story, I like the new design, would have preferred something more afrocentric yet keeping touch with civilisation. Nice design though

  2. Hi Ofili, I totally agree with you not wanting the cliche look on your website. We must always show what is representative of us or our spirit as one may please to describe it. The funny thing is we Africans do not and as a matter of fact…do not visualize ourselves so. If you ask the average African to draw or recreate their world in an animated form, a high percentage of entries would not come in pictures of animals or us under trees for sure.

    Great observation from you and I’m pretty certain that you will come up with a good choice eventually. Keep it up.

  3. (laughs) Okey, you’re really playful. The last picture is quite funny, it really looks like you. I like the second one with the tree, yes. It does look serious and professional. The themes are all beautiful, but the rhino looks, ehmmm (scratching head) I dont dig that one anyways. If I were to download your app on Googleplay I would rather download the one with the acacia tree, it seems more appealing to me than the last picture. lol, I’d rather be honest than give a sycophantic review of the themes

  4. The new design is interesting. I like that the people are a bit shapeless…so it’s not like their skinny or fat, or perfect or whatever… they’re just regular everyday people, not super models… I think you can keep at least one of these people in the updated version, because there are non-Afrocentric looking people that are still African…

    Thanks for giving us something to think about 🙂
    Osayi latest post is Other People’s problemsMy Profile

  5. Sexy way of doing a survey Ofili lol..anyways my honest opinion? Coming from u and the little I know of u(crazy, funny, sarcastic, unrestrictive etc etc) this design does nothing for me. I like the bike icon. For a typical Ofilispeaks “arena” I wld expect something like some geek-looking dude looking extremely unexpectedly COOL with books on his trail or a head bursting with books (b ut not in a scary way…) lol. anyways, that’s my own purewater version. All the best redesigning!
    Tej latest post is I want to Love You Forever!My Profile

  6. adaobiodo on said:

    I say go back to the bike…maybe a couple of bikes with a man and a woman cycling while reading. Or a couple of kids running with that made in africa toy while know the one with the wheel connected to a stick that they run with.

  7. Back to the bike mehn. They should figure out how to use that and still make it hip. Probably with some sharp, full lipped youngsters rocking their Afros.

    That, my dear, is exactly where my brain has decided to stop. Good morning.

  8. Toonna on said:

    “…kill the Rhino which is another way to say replace the Rhino with something else…”, or perhaps it could mean go into the jungle and actually kill a rhino, rhino killing is a fav past time of mine 😐

    Great and true post as always, I’m currently working on a logo design, and all Africa cliche colors and imagery are illegal in my mind as well.

    Curiously, are your designers Africans by any chance?

  9. I would say bring back the bike with hippy afrocentric riders maybe chasing books or something. Or a geeky nerd with afro who is about to hop on a bike
    but I honestly do not like the new design, I agree with Edima, it brings back memories of Macmillan young readers series
    chidi latest post is She was here and still isMy Profile

  10. I believe it now looks too foreign.. It has no link to the african culture and looks almost like a wannabe foreign website. But maybe that’s me.

    • Ofili
      Ofili on said:

      Cool. Thanks for the feedback. As I said this is not the final version we are going to tweak it more with Afro’s which is a way to say we would make it relatable to the market it is in but without using Animals or Trees.

  11. Amenze Igbinedion on said:

    I don’t like the version they created- its too “modernized” (for lack of better words). First, it reminds me of The Simpsons cos they tried to make the characters look like a family. All I can remember about the Simpsons is the silly jokes of the father. Nah!!!

    More importantly, our love for books/desire to read is largely driven by personal interests and is not mainly “family” driven. Okada books basically is about creating access to books for any person wherever you are. So,can the designers try something that highlights the vision of Okada books?

  12. Loooolest of life. I just copied you on the ‘Acacia Article’ on Twitter… Didn’t know you have read it… Let’s hope they don’t replace it with a palm tree 🙂

  13. Augusta on said:

    Take a picture of yourself reading a book on an okada in a busy Lagos street or market. Send it to your designers. That should “inspire” the right design ;).

  14. Johnny on said:

    The new design does not say anything about anything. If the idea of Okada books is book on the go(or on the couch) why should the whole family have to be in Christmas outfits like a December outing to get books.
    I would prefer a guy in singlet lying on an Okada and reading a book. Or the suggestion of Okada in busy traffic….

  15. Stephanie on said:

    From the tone of the end of your article,you seem to be okay with the last design. Please,NO. It doesn’t depict any sort o ‘seriousness’ or ‘modern-ness’. I read through the responses and totally agree with those who say you should stick with the bike/okada idea. I suggest you explore That option more. Goodluck!

  16. Stephanie on said:

    Its interesting and still flows with the idea of your brand…..a pictoral representation of Okada Books.

  17. Honestly I burst out laughing when I saw the final design, till I realized you didn’t consider it a joke. Biko I beg you, that deisgn is not it (due respect to the designers) I kinda subscribe to the okada on a busy street idea. We can identify with something like that better.

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