Set in the fictional nation of Yorubaland, ‘Obalende Sector’ is a short story project created by musical duo Seye and Olugbenga Adelekan; available across selected Dr. Martens stores now.
‘Obalende Sector’ is a graphic short story inspired by science-fiction and action-hero comic books. Set in the fictional nation of Yorubaland. The Nigerian-born creative writers merge their love of science-fiction with their passions for afro-futurist storytelling, transporting readers to an alternative continent that challenges them to reconsider the possibilities of Africa’s narrative untouched by colonisation.
Inspired by their hobbies as children, Seye’s love of illustrating Olubenga’s keen interest in writing short stories. The brothers, who are best known as the bassists for Gorillaz and Metronomy, with no intentions to monetise this project, decided to create a piece of literature inspired by their childhood in Nigeria.
Twelve months later, their passion project has now become a uniquely illustrated zine produced and published by Dr. Martens. ‘Obalende Sector’ is the brother’s first joint venture into creative writing. With the addition of collaborating with three talented graphic artists, whose work is showcased throughout the zine.
‘Obalende Sector’ zine is now available in return for a £3 donation to Black Minds Matter in selected Dr. Martens including Camden, Carnaby Street, Spitalfields, and White City stores from the 25th June.
The Brothers Adelekan and Dr. Martens collaboration continues the brands commitment to improving access to creative opportunities as part of it’s ongoing Tough As You campaign. In recent months the multidisciplinary initiative, Dr. Martens Presents, has helped Liverpool radio station Melodic Distraction secure a new home, worked with producer Batu to establish a new community music studio in Bristol, and supported Nova Twins in raising funds for The Black Curriculum via the creation of the ‘Voices For the Unheard’ vinyl.
To celebrate the launch of Obalende Sector and provide even more support, they’re doing a special edition of the GUAP fund. This edition of the fund will be open to aspiring graphic designers and illustrators who could use some extra support towards training, equipment, software etc.
With the help of Dr. Martens, we will be selecting 3 talented creatives, giving away £300 each over the next three weeks!
Where did your love of storytelling come from?
GBENGA: As kids, we would sit down and discuss the Bible every night with our parents. As soon as someone learned how to read in our family, every week, a different child would take turns reading different books in the Bible. Without consciously thinking about it, our parents were teaching us about storytelling.
Our older brother would also borrow comics from people, and us thinking he was the coolest person in the world got us into exactly what he was into. So it was ambient in our upbringing, thinking about storytelling, especially when it came to people with powers. From David and Goliath in the Bible to the X-Men in comic books.
How important was it for you to have black representation in this story instead of what we usually see in the sci-fi and fantasy genre?
GBENGA: For us, we didn’t want it to be tokenistic. That is why it is set in West Africa. By setting it in West Africa, all of the characters are going to be black. If there are any non-black characters they are going to be the exception. In the last ten years, there has been a rise in black sci-fi authors receiving recognition. As well as many characters now being created to be more representative of different communities.
How did the partnership with Dr. Martens come about?
SEYE: I did a small campaign for Dr. Martens earlier in the year for the 60th anniversary of their iconic 1461 shoe, and off the back of that I was approached with the idea of doing something for Dr. Martens Presents. They were very open about it. I was literally asked, “so what would you like to do?”. My brother Gbenga and I had this story and I thought this may actually be something to use for this in someway. Then the wonderful people at Amplify/Kingdom Collective came in with a bunch of great ideas and helped us realise the vision of this story.
How did the brand support you creatively in taking Obalende Sector from written story to illustrated novel?
GBENGA: The financial aspect was significant – that needs to be mentioned from the top. It made a big difference to approach other creatives and say we would be paying them for their time and not just giving them ‘exposure’. Essentially, though, we were asked to do whatever we wanted, hire whoever we wanted. They read an early draft of ‘Obalende Sector’ and (literally) bought into the vision. Seye and I both reached out to photographers and visual artists, mostly people we found on Instagram. We wanted everyone on the creative team to be a person of colour. For a sci-fi project backed by a brand like Dr. Martens, we felt that would make a statement. We were also looking to have a range of genders represented, but time constraints prevented that from being possible. In the end, Seye pretty much ran point on the visual aspect – probably for the best as he has a much better eye than mine anyway.
Why did you want to raise funds for Black Minds Matter?
SEYE: A big part of living as a minority in a country like England or the United States, the biggest impact is mental. Especially among men because we do not talk enough about what’s going on with us. Mental health is also very close to our hearts because there are many higher incidents of mental health in the creative industry. So working with Black Minds Matter felt like a nice way to tie those things together.
What do you hope that people will take away from reading ‘Obalende Sector’?
SEYE: I hope that inspires people to pick up a pen, either to draw or to write. Especially a young person seeing themselves in the story but realising that you can write sci-fi set in Africa and encourage young black authors to create. I really want people to feel inspired, and like they can achieve anything.
Mark Anthony aka Exhibit69 was born in south London but spent his formative years in USA, where he was exposed to arts and culture through his parent’s gallery and witnessing the burgeoning scene of hip hop. Returning to the UK during adolescence, life changed drastically with graffiti becoming his main outlet, to assist in escaping the lures of crime and gang culture. Since then, he’s established a comic influenced style which translates and addresses his experiences in to a sci-fi world which Seye thinks could compliment his story well.
Raymond Fielding (AKA rome+) is an photographer and illustrator from London. Previous works have featured in the first edition of Yellow Zine, a platform spotlighting POC creatives, and Raymond has recently been commissioned to do works for Touching Bass, NTS and rapper DAMNSHAQ.
Kieron Boothe is a British Rapper and Illustrator hailing from East London. Graduating in Graphic Design from University of the Arts London has given Kieron the advantage of being able to produce branding/marketing material for his own releases as well as a range of other artists both underground and commercial alike. He is known for his distinctive use of Jazz/Soul inspired Hip-Hop beats with a unique London twist.