Posts tagged #black cartoon characters

Stop Asking Disney To Do What We Can Do Ourselves

Is it time to spend less energy lobbying mainstream media to be more diverse and spend much more energy creating and supporting the media you want to see?

Bino and Fino Abuja Screening

We finally had the Bino and Fino Abuja launch on Saturday the 18th of June and it was a wonderful event. Thanks everyone who either came down or helped out to make the day a success. We weren’t too sure how the tern out would be especially in the aftermath of the sad bombing that took place earlier in the week. But we weren’t disappointed.

It took place at Silverbird cinemas. I’d say we all made a tiny bit of history that day. I believe it’s the first time that a Nigerian educational children’s cartoon has been shown in a cinema in the country. Ok, it’s not the same as discovering the potion for eternal youth but hey who cares! We’re claiming it.

The wonderful thing about the day was seeing the kids and parents enjoying a Nigerian cartoon in the same cinema that they come to see films such as Kung Fu Panda 2, Rango and Toy Story in. It was like a normal day at the cinema. The feedback and ideas from the kids, parents and teachers was great and informative. We managed to get on the national news and some other shows which was great. So word about Bino and Fino is starting to spread even more in Nigeria. We are looking into doing more screenings as the demand has been so much from parents who missed the Saturday launch. We are now starting plans on the Lagos and London screenings. Stay tuned for more news and thanks again for your support.

Posted on June 29, 2011 and filed under News.

Meet the Parents

Well it’s been a few weeks since we launched Bino and Fino. It has been very hectic. The best thing so far is having the opportunity to meet parents and kids in person. I am currently in London and we have had several screenings of the Bino and fino cartoon. One was a cinema screening of Bino and Fino as part of the Images of Black Women Film Festival which was a great event. It was arranged by Tony Warner of Black History Walks with the founder of the festival Sylviane Rano as part of an African animation Forum. They also showed the wonderful Cuban inspired animation Chico and Rita. I was able to meet parents and children. They received the episode of Bino and Fino they saw very well. They even gave it a little round of applause! J I’ve always known that there’s a market for well made African cartoons for kids. Why wouldn’t there be? But it’s always nice to see it confirmed face to face by kids and parents.

Name One International Black African Cartoon Character

'Transformers', 'Voltron', 'Super Ted', 'Danger Mouse, 'Thundercats', 'Battle of the Planets G-Force', the list goes on. Most of us adults who grew up in Africa remember watching those programs when we were children. Actually I should say, most of us who were lucky enough to have regular access to a TV. Those programs helped teach us everything from arithmetic and English, right through to the fighting skills we would need to defeat a very powerful Decepticon robot during an alien invasion in case the need arose. In fact, programs such as Sesame Street helped teach those of us that were lucky enough to watch it general life skills.

Now fast forward a few years. You now have your own young family and you want to watch cartoons with your young children. The current crop of cartoons such as Dora the Explorer and Peppa Pig are great. I love them. Of course there are some annoying ones but that’s all subjective. But what if you want to watch a cartoon or animation that reflects some part of your black and African heritage? A cartoon that portrays a positive picture of Africa? How about one that's available in major African languages so children can learn their mother tongue? You could even be a non African parent who wants to teach your young children about other world cultures.

Can you name one truly international children's program that was conceived and produced in Africa? It's difficult right? This leads to the next question. Why? There are many reasons for this.

These include;

Lack of financial support from the public and private sectors: Banks for example, see animation as a risky venture. In fact in countries like Nigeria banks have traditionally steered clear from supporting the entertainment sector with financial products. They are now talking with the creative sector to see how they can collaborate in the future. Also institutions like the World Bank have pledged funds to help industries such as Nigeria's Nollywood so things are looking up. As animation is a sub sector of this, there should be a trickledown effect in the future.

Lack of support and belief from local broadcasters: Many television networks don't commission such programs. In fact they prefer to import foreign children cartoons. To some degree this situation is understandable.

Lack of artists and technicians in fields such as animation production. We as animators and producers also have to get our game up. And trust me I totally understand the difficult circumstances we work under in many African countries. Having said that there are still companies and people able to risk taking a lead. We need to convince, the public and investors that we are serious.

Lack of support from government: In some countries such as France, companies that produce animations are given encouragement in the form of incentives and funding. They also make sure that all programming on all their stations is about 60% local content. So a kids station can’t show 100% foreign cartoons. Unfortunately this isn't the case in the majority of African countries.

So it is easy to see why there are no cartoon series from Africa that have had global success. However, African animators have decided to tackle this challenge head on. In regions as diverse as Kenya, Nigeria, Egypt, South Africa and in Diaspora things are changing. Using the internet and new digital production technologies, African artists and companies are producing their own content for the world to see. The future for African animation should be very bright. We just need a few things to fall in place. So all you current and future parents out there, look out! There’s going to be a new voice in the children’s cartoon market soon. And it’ll be an African one.


Posted on April 6, 2011 and filed under Thoughts and Views.