African stories have for years been told through other ‘eyes’, based on a suggestive narrative that satisfies a market that only believes in a Africa that is a jungle, uncivilized society, savages, and everyone is just like the animals they live with, in-fact, some still think Africans do actually share the same ‘meals’ with animals, literally.
These have been the sad narrations we grew up watching or reading about. Hollywood was notorious of this fact. But time has changed and more Africans have taken control of their stories. We are dreaming into life some of the many folktales we have carried for the many years, undocumented with the visual presentation that
“My voice is not the only one: unless we Afrikans rediscover ourselves, our roots and heritage, and embrace and understabd – even love – everything that made our ancestors survive and thrive for thousands of years, unless we understand how our ancestors succeeded so well in creating a dynamic society in the past, we cannot create a new, modern Afrikan society.” Professor Mandivamba Rukuni, in his book, Being Afrikan.
This latest Disney Plus original series is a breath of the correct air, we are indeed awakening one of the greatest story telling beasts from Africa, by Africans, for the world to learn, appreciate, associate and embrace the truth about Africa, its wonderful people and the abundant gifts and knowledge it holds.
The series, named, “Kizazi Moto: Generation Fire”, features stories from creators hailing from ‘Egypt, Kenya, Nigeria, South Africa, Uganda and Zimbabwe, promises to take viewers on an unforgettable ride into Africa’s future, presenting visions of the continent as never before seen.’
Zooming into Zimbabwe, the episode ‘Mukudzei‘ speaks of a young influencer who, driven by social media ‘peer pressure’, defaces a sacred monument and as a result, is thrown into a futuristic utopian Zimbabwe.
What I loved most about this episode (Mukudzei), of-cause being Zimbabwean, is hearing common local languages being used and the close musical connections at play, which made sense with the involvement of one of the top young music artists, Poptain, solidifying the youthful intentions of this story. A story that tries to connect the past, the now and the possible future. It seeks to teach the young generation why family, love of a mother and the spiritual guidance we possess are key in developing ourselves, respecting our culture and upbringing.
The production value in this is top class. The visual creations attest of a well guided production process, in which I’m sure, the team involved learnt immensely from the producers. The writer, Tafadzwa, picked one of the most sacred and important piece (story) of the formation of Zimbabwe, through its great ruins Zimbabwe was born. The Hungwe bird symbolising part of the spiritual power within its narrative.
Speaking to one of the directors, Tafadzwa Hove, he said the project took 3 years to complete. He believes this was an important step by the producers as it not only showcases African stories, but the vast talent by its people.
“Super important. We have always known that we have the talent and capacity to tell stories at this level. It’s just that we have never had the necessary support and financial backing. Now the world knows the secret that we have always known: we are just as talented as anyone else in the game. It is also important for our people to see themselves. Social experiments like the race doll experiment highlight the psychological importance of people of color or from Africa seeing themselves portrayed in media in a glorious and uplifting manner. Hopefully, this will bring investment into animation in Africa and help the industry grow, which will have positive knock-on effects such as creating employment and stimulating the growth of animation in Africa.” said Tafadzwa Hove.
The action-packed animated anthology draws on the continent’s rich and diverse histories and cultures to present 10 sci-fi and fantasy stories featuring bold and brave new worlds of advanced technology, aliens, spirits, and monsters.
Tafadzwa added by encouraging young creatives to take up this opportunity to get involved in this new movement.
“I would suggest that they join online training platforms/academies provided by companies like the Triggerfish Academy. Then they need to post their work because people can’t hire them if they can’t see their work. Platforms like Instagram are the best places to get noticed. The world is looking for new artists with different perspectives, so if you are an upcoming artist, continuously post your work. The game is an online game, so you could be based in Zimbabwe but working for a Japanese studio. Therefore, they must not limit themselves to working only for local Zimbabwean animation studios, as there are not enough of them in Zimbabwe. Animation forums like Animation SA are great forums to join, where jobs and internships are posted.”
Mukudzei the episode was directed by Tafadzwa Hove and Pious Nyenyewa with production oversight and support from the Triggerfish animation studios among others.
Tafadzwa did promise more is ahead, with this series setting the pace for many great African collaborated productions.
“What’s next is exciting. We have a couple of potentially huge projects that we are in discussions about, but it’s safe to say that the future is looking promising for us and African animation.”
Opportunities for African animators (creatives) has opened up with many streaming platforms funding the development of original stories, written, directed and produced by Africans. Cartoon Network Africa announced their new fantastic adventure with the hilarious and action-packed Garbage Boy and Trash Can premiering on the network on Monday, 17 July . Netflix also announced its new animated series that follows four teenage girls who become undercover superheroes. Set in Lusaka, Zambia, Supa 4 is Netflix’s first original animated series from Africa. Supa Team 4, premieres July 20.
The future is for us to own. If we do not tell our own stories, then the world will continue in its ignorance of who we are and what we can do.