It is no surprise that there a lack of true positive African voices in the world of children's media. What can children watch, read or play with to learn more about the wonderful continent in a positive genuine way? Not as some afterthought. The key words being 'genuine' , 'educational' , 'entertaining' and 'representative' . I'm not talking about Madagascar or Lion King here. Nothing against Disney but those movies ( or similar) are not what I'm referring to here as they don't really represent Africa in any real way beyond just being set there. I am looking more for cartoons that have real Africans (humans) characters. To be clear WE DO NOT expect Disney or any other major children's media group to do this. It's not their responsibility to do so. It would be nice if they did though. But that's another discussion for another blog post.
So here is a list of animation clips, series and movies that I have found that fit that criteria in my humble opinion. Some are 100% African owned and funded, others are done in partnership with global partners whilst the remainder are 100% non African owned or funded. To be honest putting together a list of only 100% African owned and developed would be quite hard and the list would be very short! It definitely has been a tough list to put together based on certain criteria . There are some great pieces of work which have been left off the list coming from studios such as Sporedust from Nigeria & the juggernaut that is Triggerfish based in South Africa. The main reason for their omission is the fact that their films and content don't have actual Africans in them but currently only feature animals. For this list it is important for children to see themselves reflected on the in the animations.
Some of these projects are either completed / available to buy, free to watch online, seeking support or are right at the beginning of their journey to being made. Some are not entirely educational but at least have characters that are African. I intend to keep adding to the list as time goes on and we learn about more projects.
Even if the all the projects are not finished or you don't like all of them understand that we are still at the beginning. Here is a taste of what the future could be. A wonderful selection of Africa centric animated series & movies for children.
By the way, a series, movie or short animation film doesn't have to be on TV or in the cinema to be of worth. Those are just methods of distribution. Sometimes we ( I am also guilty of this ) wait until we see something on a big TV network like Nickleodeon before we believe a show is worth watching. Not any more. The internet has and will continue to change and democratise that. What matters is if you like what you see and if it is of value to you and your children.
Ubongo Kids is an exciting animated edutainment TV series, watched by over 1.4 million viewers in Tanzania and available in over a million more households across East Africa. Animated characters Kibena, Kiduchu, Koba and Baraka go on adventures each episode, using their wits and knowledge of math to solve mysteries and problems in their community. With the help of Mama Ndege, a mathemcatical bird, Junior Jumbo, a frugal elephant, and Uncle T, a rapping giraffe, they find the fun in math!
Abeba and Abebe
Abeba and Abebe is the first ever animated series to be made in Ethiopia by and for Ethiopians. It follows a standard kids series format of 52 x 7 min episodes (that’s one story a week for a year!) and is aimed at an audience of 6 - 12 year olds.
The show’s themes use the Ethiopian Constitution as guidance and intend to teach the rights of all children in Ethiopia in a fun and entertaining way.
Five children of different backgrounds team up through games from African soil and use them to solve problems. Through this series, we want to share to the world an engaging and personal window into our cultures.
Bouba and Zaza
"Bouba & Zaza" is a children's books collection initiated by UNESCO Dakar and the Association for the Development of Education in Africa (ADEA). The aim is to develop quality teaching materials adapted to an African context.
The books are now being adapted to short educational films. This is the first one.
Kirikou and The Sorceress
Kirikou and The Men and Women
Legacy Of The Rubies
MFALME, a young forest boyis kidnapped and brought to a strange palace in a place called Airegin, with the claim that he is the blood son of the dying King Obankosi and the chosen successor to the throne.
Not just that, he is given a mandatory assignment which he has to fulfil before he can either accept or reject their offer. So, accompanied by the little palace boy with whom he struck up a friendship, he is forced on a journey he least reckoned with.
RED ORIGINS is an African animated series created by Kolanut Productions, an up and coming independent animation, comic, and game productions company. Kolanut Productions focuses on providing diverse media that is predominantly centered on, but not exclusive to the untapped and emerging market of African Magical Futurism.
Legend Of Ngong Hills
A thousand years ago, one boy with a dream of becoming a great warrior is abducted with his sister and taken to a land far away from home. Thrown into a world where greed and injustice rule all, Bilal finds the courage to raise his voice and make a change. Inspired by true events, this is a story of a real hero who earned his remembrance in time and history.
I Am Khama
The Brats and The Toy Thief
Mark of Uru
The Royal Whiz Kidz
One of Bini's main wells is contaminated and there might be a water borne disease outbreak. Watch The Royal Whiz Kidz as they try bring an immediate solution.