When you switch on your TV and, for those with Pay TV, surf through the children’s channel, or for those with free to air, watch on Saturday mornings, its easy to think that no African Animations exist out there. Dream Works, Disney and Pixar have dominated our kids channels with characters such as Ben 10, Mickey Mouse, Johny Bravo, Shrek and Sponge Bob among others becoming household names for those of us who are now parents to young ones.
Granted that we still have a long way to go before we can catch up with Disney but there are those talented Africans who have felt the need for our children to see African characters in the animations they watch, listen to stories they can relate to and sometimes, perhaps in African languages that they use everyday. These amazing African animators have defied all odds to come up with well thought out, original and African inspired cartoon creations that showcase the beauty and diversity in our various African cultures.
We highlight some of these amazing Africans who, either as individual animators or through their production companies are making amazing animation videos for African children.
1. Jungle Beat
Jungle Beat is a fun, family friendly series of CGI animated self-contained, dialogue-free, 5 minute episodes focusing on different animals and the bizarre situations they encounter in nature. From the firefly who is afraid of the dark to the giraffe with a stiff neck, this wholesome series aims to entertain, inspire and ignite children’s curiosity!
2. Kirikou and The Sorceress
In a little village somewhere in Africa, a boy named Kirikou is born. But he’s not a normal boy, because he knows what he wants very well. Also he already can speak and walk. His mother tells him how an evil sorceress has dried up their spring and devoured all males of the village except of one. Hence little Kirikou decides, he will accompany the last warrior to the sorceress. Due to his intrepidity he may be the last hope of the village. Kirikou et la Sorcière or Kirikou and the Sorceress is a french animated film based on Western African folklore directed by Michel Ocelot.
The story has been translated to English and into Kiswahili
3. Bino & Fino
This is a new African cartoon made for children between the ages of 3-5. The upcoming miniseries will be fun and educational. This cartoon is being made to address the severe lack of children’s content out there showing positive images of the African continent.
4. Adventures in Zambezia
A high-spirited young falcon, Kai is the main character in “Zambezia,” a new South African 3D animation film featuring an all-star voice cast, including Hollywood A-listers Samuel L. Jackson, Abigail Breslin, Jeff Goldblum, Leonard Nimoy and Jeremy Suarez.
Set in the majestic Victoria Falls and inspired by southern Africa’s startling artwork, “Zambezia” is hoping to put South African animation on the map while enthralling children around the world with its uplifting message of togetherness.
5. Ubongo Kids
Ubongo Kids is Tanzania’s first homegrown cartoon series, designed to help kids discover the joys of math through fun, local stories and songs.
Ubongo Kids follows Tanzanian cartoon kids Kibena, Kiduchu and Koba as they use their minds and math skills to solve problems in their village, with the help of their talking and singing animal friends: Mama Ndege (a math whiz bird), Uncle T (a rapping giraffe), and Da Chura (a frog who ribbits important vocabulary).
6.African Tales the Movie
Mark of Uru is an animated television series written and directed by Obinna Owuekwe and produced by según of Williams. Mark of Uru is an original concept inspired by African folklore and mythology and especially through obinna’s Grandmother’s tales involving these elements. He was driven by the heavy integration of humans, animals and elemental beings in African folklore. The full movie is now available online.
7. The Legend of Ngong Hills
Based upon a Maasai folktale, ‘The Legend of Ngong Hills’ is the creation story of these magnificent hills that backdrop present day Nairobi, Kenya…
The humongous and frightful Ogre of the forest, who has a habit of attacking the Maasai village, falls in love with the beautiful young maiden…a story of greed, tyranny and courage.
8. Chicken Core: The Rise of Kings
Chicken Core is a Nigerian animated feature which follows the adventures of a group of chicken warriors in their quest to rid the land of Amaji from the clutches of the tyrannous Boar King and his minions.
The Rise of Kings is an animated short prelude to the era of the chicken kingdom. It is a tale of when the chickens were manipulated by an ancient menace, and then sought to liberate themselves in a final battle for freedom.
Chicken Core aims to deliver a fascinating package full of action-adventure, drama and intrigue for both the young and elderly. It is targeted at the local and international audience while also seeking to bridge the gap between cultures in Nigeria.
9. Tinga Tinga Tales
Kenyan children’s television series, based on African folk tales and aimed at 4 to 6-year-olds. It was commissioned by the BBC for its CBeebies channel, and by Disney Channel for its Disney Junior block. The production which has 2 series of 13 episodes each is centred on various animated animals and employs music, dialogue, and colorful imagery to tell African folk tales about the origins of animals, and to answer questions such as, “why do monkeys swing in the trees and flamingos stand on one leg?” among others.