Afrikan Animation, the Future Scrolls

3D & Animation | By Nqobizitha Mlilo, Animator | 21 November 2014
PHOTO: © Henry Oliver Hakulandaba

Here’s the problem we have. Culture is lost amongst modern day Afrikans. We are called Afrikans merely by geographic consideration and not really by the essence that is supposed to make us Afrikan. I am no exception to this new situation. When I decided to embark on the long road to start an animated feature film, I was ignorant of what fast became the biggest issue we faced. Researching things Afrikan normally yields unorganised and scattered results. This led us to adopt a more analogue approach and look for older sources to recount events and tradition. This is a slow process though it produced amazing information that really blew my mind! As we integrate this information into our story and concepts, I can’t help but feel that my daughter’s generation will be more informed than I was about Afrikan tradition and culture. They will have animation that teaches them aspects of their identity from a very young age. They will be a new generation without insecurities about their identity.

The animation industry in Zimbabwe as it stands has shown remarkable growth over the years. More and more traditional artists, illustrators and graphic designers are taking a huge interest in the discipline. This trend is the same over other parts of Afrika, Rwanda, Namibia, Ghana, Kenya and Zambia showing huge interests in the field. The flag bearers in South Afrika as well deserve special mention because they have taken their productions to market and experienced commercial success.

Zimbabwe still needs to make certain adjustments in the industry in order to increase capacity. Capacity building is, in my opinion, the area in which we must give the highest priority. We have tons of talented artists but unfortunately no single strong team that can take on a single coordinated effort. Different freelance animators and studios have different production pipelines and work-flows. This means that it makes it really hard for the industry to produce animation consistently. Quality control is a major topic in the circles I move in. We obviously need to improve in these areas in order to make a difference as well as create productions that are competitive in the region.

The future of animation in Zimbabwe is that the industry of artists must rise up and take on responsibilities that some may think are not theirs. We have to begin documenting the very fabric of Afrikan values and sensibilities in ways that will inspire and motivate... and look totally awesome at the same time! We have a responsibility to coming generations to record the Afrikan narrative. We have to capture elements of History as well as events of the present. We need to provide a new way of telling the same stories we’ve already heard as well as come up with new ones.

In closing, I would like us to think back at all the animation we have experienced throughout our childhood. They leave long lasting impressions and memories. Some may even go as far as influencing the very thinking of a generation.