Africa's creative minds helping continent’s animation scene thrive

2020-10-17 17:21:20
Africa's creative minds helping continent’s animation scene thrive

Creative young minds like Nigerian animator Ridwan Moshood are helping Africa’s animation industry thrive. Moshood was so determined to learn how to make cartoons, he spent hours in internet cafés in Lagos, watching YouTube lessons and taking notes.

"I would go to a cyber café, watch video tutorials and write down whatever I'd learnt," he says. Today, the 26-year-old is a rising star in Africa's blossoming animation scene.

Two years ago, he was recognised by the Cartoon Network Africa Creative Lab for his animation Garbage Boy and Trash Can.

In what must have felt like sweet revenge, his cartoon was inspired by a bad experience at high school, involving a rubbish bin and school bullies.

"Garbage Boy is basically me," he says. "I was bullied and called names.

"I decided to create Garbage Boy as a beacon of hope and forgiveness. And to show others who had been bullied that those names don't define who you are."

He has since formed a production company and he's now hoping to have his latest idea, a cartoon set in Lagos, called In My Hood, commissioned into a series.

Surprisingly, Ridwan Moshood's journey into animation, is not particularly unique.

"All over the continent we hear these stories," says Nick Wilson, the founder of the African Animation Network, who is based in Johannesburg.

He reels off a list of countries where local animators are starting to make their mark: Nigeria, Ghana, Kenya, Uganda, Egypt, South Africa, Mozambique and Burkina Faso.

"Wherever we've been able to scratch the surface and connect the community, we've found pretty exceptional talent and the majority of this talent is self-taught," he says.

But while stories of self-taught animators breaking into the industry are inspiring, more formal training opportunities do need to be developed, he says.

Doh D Daiga is a Cameroonian animator who lives in Burkina Faso. He's responsible for skills and development at the African Animation Network.

"My experience in this industry shows me there exists an immense pool of young, talented and creative minds that never get to the see the day," he says.

"The only problem keeping Africa behind is a lack of training."

Recently, partnerships have been announced with international animation studios Toonz Media Group and Baboon Animation. Both companies plan to establish animation academies in Africa, adding to the handful that exist already.

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