Take a look at the picture above of the Cartoon Network Africa website. Notice the lack of actual African shows? I did this over 4 years ago and got angry about it. I was so angry I had video rant about it!
I’ve had a chance to calm down since then! The situation is still pretty much the same though. Nickleodeon Africa and Cartoon Network Africa still have little or no African made shows for children on them. I have no problem with that. What I have a problem with is the ‘Africa’ tag attached. At least that is what I HAD a problem with.
The interesting thing is that this replicates itself in other parts of the world. Here are the websites of Cartoon Network India and Cartoon Network Brazil. There isn’t much of a difference in the content on show. So Africa is not alone in this. Of course the fact that India and Brazil which are countries have their own dedicated websites whilst the whole of Africa only has one is another topic. But I’ll save that for another time. Here is a list of Cartoon Network’s international sites.
My position has shifted slightly since I made the video years ago. It’s not about the Cartoon Network Africa name anymore. I am not interested in complaining about the situation anymore. I’m keen on finding out why it exists and seeing how it can be changed. I have many questions I’m trying to answer. Is there room for regional or locally produced children’s content around the world? To be more specific is there room for this in West Africa? I obviously believe so unless we wouldn’t be working on the Bino and Fino cartoon. However, Cartoon Network , Nickleodeon etc. are major global players and are very good at what they do. They have a wide reach and are usually the market leaders in the countries they are available in. How interested are they in promoting the development of local creative content that reflects and represents the lives and culture of children in the various regions they air in? Is it their responsibility to do so? Why should they? They kids aren't complaining right?
Here’s my spin on it. Disney or Cartoon Network didn’t appear out of nowhere. A lot of risk taking, hard work plus audience support went into making them what they are today. I think the same amount of work now needs to be done in various countries in Africa. For instance in Nigeria there is NO indigenous children’s educational cartoon on national television. Bino and Fino is the only one that exists and it’s not on television for reasons I went into on another article I wrote about why there are few children’s shows on Nigerian television. Before you can complain about an overwhelming influx of foreign programing you have to see if your country supports the development of indigenous children’s shows.
We need to get our own house in order and have the same amount of vision that the founders of Disney, Cartoon Network etc. had when they started. We have to build our own versions that serve our local and regional markets. If this doesn’t happen then I don’t think I have a right to complain about there being a Cartoon Network Africa with no African content on it. They provide a service which I also watch. As much as that annoys me that is what I believe. Truth be told, I actually love Cartoon Network, CBeebies and the rest of them. Though I'm not liking some of the new content on Cartoon Network but that's another topic for another time!
It is time for regions of Africa to step up their game regarding this. Africa can't have it's children excluded from the media they consume. Plus it's great for children around the world to see and learn about different cultures.
So yes I am still angry about 'Cartoon Network Africa'. But not at Cartoon Network but at the fact that many regions in Africa don't have anything close. The world be much richer culturally when this situation changes.