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Legend Of Shango: The Third Emperor (2D Character Design) Challenge

CGAfrica is excited to announce its first-ever challenge appropriately named ‘CGAfrica Competition 2022’. We are extending an invite to all concept artists from all levels of experience to participate in our inaugural competition. 
This is an opportunity to gain insight into your skills from our jury of established professionals, who are dedicated to offering you support and guidance to further develop and hone your craft.


The theme of the first CGAfrica Competition is Legend of Shango - The Third Emperor


Shango (Ṣàngó) was a royal ancestor of the Yoruba people in West Africa. (Now largely based in western Nigeria). He was the third king to rule the Oyo empire. 
Shango was one of the most powerful rulers of the Yoruba People and is popular for his powerful axe, red robes and beads. His reign was marked by ongoing campaigns and many battles. He is considered to have brought prosperity to the Oyo Empire. Shango is described in some oral tradition as one with a voice like thunder and a mouth that spewed fire when he spoke. 
Shango’s rule was marked by whimsical use of power! One account asserts that Shango has the ability to spit fire when angry and that he inadvertently caused a thunderstorm and lightning that struck his palace; hence he’s mythically referred to as one who controls lightning. 
We are challenging artists to imagine what Shango looked like as an emperor. We are looking for your ability to breathe life into the iconic character of Shango as a man.


Oyo empire (circa 1400)

The Oyo Empire was a powerful Yoruba empire of west Africa, made up of parts of present-day Eastern Benin and western Nigeria. It grew to become the largest Yoruba-speaking state.

The first Alaafin of Oyo, Ọ̀rànmíyàn, was a courageous and warlike king. He left behind him two renowned sons, Ajaka and Sango, both of whom succeeded him in turns and both of whom became famous in history for having run a deified after death. 


Sango was the third king of the Oyo kingdom. He was enthroned as a young man. Influential statemen sought to take advantage of his youth; one of the statemen demanded tribute from Sango but Sango flatly. This later developed into a standoff where his capital city was besieged and a battle ensured between his supporters and the opposing faction. Equipped with his weapon of choice- a double-headed axe, Sango displayed bravery as well as tricks on the battlefield- He could erupt smoke from his mouth and nostrils- terrifying the enemy army to the point of panic. 

The enemy forces subsequently fled the city. Pushed on to an advantage, and with victories in battles after battles, he became firmly established on the throne. Following his strong grip on power, he subsequently became elated and tyrannical. 

With a fiery temper, Sango was skilled in sleight of hand tricks. He had a habit of emitting fire and smoke out of his mouth, which greatly increased the dread his subjects had of him.

One of Sango’s 3 wives -Oya had the power to summon rain.  Together with Sango's fire-spitting ability, they were a powerful force they had terrific and swift victories in battles. When it was time to ravage their enemies, Oya, who had the power to summon wind, would blow off roofs, fall trees, and breathe life into the fire set by Sango.

Sango wore his hair plaited as a tribute to his beloved wife Oya. 

 On one occasion when an enslaved person failed to carry out his assignment, Sango ordered 122 razor cuts slashed all over the slave’s body as punishment. The scars left by these wounds strangely took the fancy of the King's wife, who thought that they added comeliness to the man. Sango subsequently subjected himself to the Olùwàlàs (the markers) to get similar scars to please his wife.

Sango's reign was marked by his restlessness. He fought many battles. It was claimed that he knew some preparation by which he could attract lightning. 

The palace at Oyo was built at the foot of a hill. One day, the king, garbed in his signature red robes ascended this hill accompanied by his courtiers and some of his slaves, cousins but none of his children. He wanted to try one of his preparation which got out of control. Lightning struck the palace before they came down the hill, and the buildings were razed to the ground. Many of his children and properties perished in the fire. 

Realizing he was the architect of his misfortune and consumed by guilt, he abdicated the throne and subsequently hung himself in a shea butter tree to preserve his honour.