currently researching african animation : interested in compiling a database of practitioners in various sub-saharan countries : welcome any postings from practitioners

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Coconut Island.... more from Lagos, Nigeria

Coconut Island is a 2D animation currently being produced by a team of animators/artists from Lagos. It has been reported by SPACEBOY_NIGERIA, that one of the artists on the team has also worked on the Nigerian Comic Book, Canary Seven by Elfworks. The animation is being developed into potentially an animated series of 5 minute shorts. Their work looks promising!

Ezra Wube, Ethiopian artist and animator

On searching for more animation from the continent, I stumbled across the animation
"I came from the Sky" by Ezra Wube, Ethiopia.
Ezra Wube is a fine artist currently based in Brooklyn (US), although originally from Addis Ababa. He left Ethiopia at the age of 18 and has travelled since - travelling being a recurring theme that emerges in Wube's work, as he explains in the article at ABESHA.COM

Wube has posted his animations on Vimeo (I came from the Sky; When we all met; Hutlet/Caution) and you can view all of his animated work here:

For a detailed article about his work and background, and his influences and themes this can be found on ABESHA.COM . His own personal website, including a portfolio of work and animations can be found at: EZRAART.NET

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Mbulu's Bride (2006)

Justine Puren's animation Mbulu's Bride (2006) is a brilliantly executed sand animation from South Africa's AFDA.
I stumbled across the animation in an article about Post-Apartheid film in the journal Kinema, "Short Filmaking in South Africa after apartheid" by Martin Botha.

The only version I found online - the quality is not very good, but one gets an impression of the animation.

Tuesday, October 06, 2009

Nigerian Multimedia Company sets up shop in Abuja

EVCL is a new company based in Northern Nigeria - specifically Abuja, that has just been setup and is already creating a stir on the facebook circuit. Including a portfolio of work that includes 3D Computer Animation, video, and multimedia - the website also includes a blog that aims to provide a platform to discuss and disseminate Nigerian multi-media related topics, with the added bonus of online tutorials such as the one below.

The blog includes sections on "thoughts and opinions" and "works and experiments".
To access the blog for more information click

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

State of Emergency? Documentary in progress - South Africa

A link I received courtesy of South African animator Sabelo Dludla. The video investigates filmmaking in South Africa contextualised in its historical political climate.

Also for more information on the South African Film Scene, with entries on animation too! Click here: The CallSheet

Thursday, September 24, 2009

The African Film Library

The MNet initiative, is launching an online film library showcasing the best African films. A fantastic resource that I hope will grow to include the animations emerging from the continent...
click here: African Film Library

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Digital Planet and Kenya

The BBC podcasts on Digital Planet have recently (see 15th September: Kenya Special) included a focus on Kenya. One of the highlights of the podcast is the interview with the team from Mediae including animator Daniel Muli * from Just a Band. The interview dicusses the current situation of the landscape of animation in Kenya, and the impact of broadband to the industry and the home user. Makes for an interesting listen!

Friday, August 28, 2009

more from Nigeria..... The O Twins

Another contribution to the ever growing and dynamic world of animation on the continent. With a recent launch on facebook/ and their own website, Fusion Media are about to release their very own take on a Nigerian family's view of the world around them... The O Twins is a 3D animated comedy by Micheal Tokunbo Akindelem with charming character designs, and a palette that is vibrant, it looks promising.
The reviews on their own Youtube channel are largely positive and encouraging, with everyone looking forward to the next installment!

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Nigeria's LIFESPAN

Nigeria's first feature length Computer Animated Film - LIFESPAN - has hit the radar. With a youtube channel of their own, promoting the film, and collaborative events hosted on Facebook, the team have mobilised creatives in the field with their "Create a LIFESPAN character" competition, with open submissions from online facebook members.
Stanlee Ohikhuare and Mighty Jot Animation Studios - have put together a visually exciting film of high production value. In production since 2006, due to be released in 2009, this film is another piece of evidence that animation on the African continent is rapidly gaining popularity, with the artistic and technical skills to match.

You can view to promo, and concept development work on the LifeSpan2009 youtube channel.

Monday, August 17, 2009

who is Tunis 2050 ?

One recent find on the animation front, is this exciting animated series TUNIS 2050. Information on the website is limited and can be accessed here
TUNIS2050. Although the series can also be viewed in Facebook / search for TUNIS 2050.
Currently with 2050 Fans on Facebook, this online animated series seems to be rapidly gaining popularity... and one can see why!
BUT who are the people behind this North African Animated Series???

Kenyan Animation: A3 Genesis, the dawn of a new era?

The recent event at the British Council, organised by the Association of Animation Artistes Kenya (A3) was a resounding success with a full house attendance. The speakers including Dumi, from Anamazing Workshop, South Africa, Claudia Lloyd from Tiger Aspect Studios, UK/Kenya and the Know Zone Team, all provided a great flavour of current commercial and non-profit productions that are running in Kenya, and South Africa. The event was even attended by the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Information and Communication, Dr. Bitange Ndemo, a key player in mobilising and creating an environment conducive to helping the industry emerge.

The morning program of talks provided a space for Q&As with the attendees, which was at times "animated" - each speaker spoke of the commercial/ financial difficulties of launching animated series for an African audience, or as in the case of Tinga Tinga Tales, an international one. Amongst the topics of discussion were the role of a producer in securing funds. How funding/ investment is divided up amongst different contenders, distributors, merchandising, screening rights etc. The South African guest, spoke about the current incentives that exist in SA that provide a space to begin to look at an emergent industry. This proved to be an ideal spring board to look at the role of government bodies in facilitating and encouraging this sector to grow. Other speakers included the software company, ToonBoom representative, who presented in interesting overview of the possibilities of tapping into the global market. He also spoke of economic incentives in licensing of this software, to encourage use of legal copies, rather than pirated software - these included an encouraging 50 to 60% discount on the retail price, with room to negotiate.

The public were largely very receptive to all speakers. Some of the issues raised included: the importance of the dissemination of information from official bodies to the general public in a transparent and effective manner, the importance for educational institutions to recognise the merits of this field and to provide suitable in depth training, the artistic and technical skills that are required, what are the benefits of joining the association, the need for critical mass and collaboration.

The afternoon session included different workshops in Adobe After Effects, a master class by a Digital Matte Painter from Animal Logic/ Weta Digital, and a collection of screenings from local and other African animators, in the main foyer.

The event was bubbling with excitement and seemed largely positive, with current news of broadband reaching the general public, in the next couple of months, the possibilities seem endless... of course this enthusiasm could not help but be eclipsed but the fact that today, in Nairobi, like most days in the week, there is no power.
The power rationing is naturally having a detrimental effect on peoples ability to work and is debilitating....

For more info: you can go to Kenyan Animation
or the Official webpage for the association at this link has since gone dead and will redirect to a page that is archived on the Webarchive Association of Animation Artistes

Tuesday, July 07, 2009

The XYZ Show hits the BBC

The Kenyan production "The XYZ Show", which includes both puppets and animation, has been airing their political satirical program on local television from early this year. The good news is the program has been looked at by the BBC, giving it exposure on an international scale. Well Done All!!
To read more about this click on

alternatively you can read all about it on the XYZ BLOG

Friday, July 03, 2009

ghana animation

An animation made with found objects from Ghana -
Information about the animators is limited, although it would seem that the animators were NOT ghanian. More information will follow once I verify.

Notwithstanding the found objects present interesting features such as the use of an image which is also to be found in Congolese in popular painting, as well as Northern Nigeria.

The image of the man climbing the tree with a snake, lion and crocodile surrounding him at the bottom. The very same painting that Congolese filmmaker JM Kibushi refers to in his animated film "Muana Mboka".

See video at 1:05 - 1:14 mins for the referred painting.

African Animation Festival - ANIMAFRIK

ANIMAFRIK is African Animation Festival that will be running in October in Ghana. There is a current call out for submissions to the festival, one can send
DVD submissions to:

Address: Courier: Animafrik Festival, No.5. Anowa Link, Tesano, Accra, Ghana

or mail P.O.Box KN 150, Kaneshie, Accra, Ghana

The festival will close submission on July 31 2009.

For more information on the festival read the Africancolours post

or alternatively

AWN's article on the festival.

Thursday, July 02, 2009

On Kuwaiti Comic Strip "THE 99"

An enlightening article by the BBC World News on the creation of Islamic Superheros in the Kuwaiti comic strip called "THE 99"

Monday, June 29, 2009

African Animation Scholarship Programme

News update from my contacts:

SAE presents the African Animation Scholarship Programme

Calling all aspiring African animators! From pixels to puppets, cutouts to claymation, the world of animation is becoming an increasingly popular area of study.
For those looking to join SAE to expand their animated horizons, SAE is proud to announce the availability of 15 coveted part-scholarships.

SAE Cape Town will be offering 10 scholarships for Sub-Saharan African students and 5 South African students, allowing prospective students the opportunity to pursue their dream career in animation.

To secure your head-start in this exciting field, simply log

Thursday, June 25, 2009

a great link on contemporary african culture : African Digital Art

The African Digital Art website is a real find for anyone interested in contemporary african digital art culture. I highly recommend this link for some great finds related to not only African animation but digital art at large.
African Digital Art

some new animated finds....

here are some links/ videos that have been sent to me from various African animators... enjoy!
Kenneth Coker - Originally from Lagos, Nigeria, he studied at Memphis college of art and completed the film below as his graduate showreel.

Iwa from Kenneth Coker on Vimeo.

Oni Ise Owo from Kenneth Coker on Vimeo.

Micheal Rix - Based in Johannesburg, South Africa. The film was originally produced as a music video for South African rock band The Parlotones, but was rejected.

Strings from Reel 13 on Vimeo.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Binyavanga, "How to write about Africa"

Just by accident I stumbled across Binyavanga's article "How to write about Africa" published in the Africa in the Picture 2008 program (Amsterdam).It can also be found on-line on the GRANTA magazine. Binyavanga's sense of humour is acutely perceptive, for anyone in the field of African studies or writing about Africa... to give you a taster here is Binyavanga's opening paragraph...

Always use the word 'Africa' or 'Darkness' or 'Safari' in your title. Subtitles may include the words 'Zanzibar', 'Masai', 'Zulu', 'Zambezi', 'Congo', 'Nile', 'Big', 'Sky', 'Shadow', 'Drum', 'Sun' or 'Bygone'. Also useful are words such as 'Guerrillas', 'Timeless', 'Primordial' and 'Tribal'....

Highly recommended!

Friday, June 19, 2009

SCOLMA Annual Conference: Africa and the Moving Image: the Role of Libraries and Archives

The recent conference held at Newnham College, Cambridge, was a veritable attempt to begin to address the difficulties facing the future of African film, or rather specifically more so film made by African's for an African audience and its urgent need of suitable archives.

The lineup of guest speakers included:

Dr Guido Convents: Current Issues in African Moving Image and its Preservation

Mr Keith Shiri: African Film and Documentary: The Contemporary Scene

Prf. Vivian Bickford Smith : Film as Evidence, Film as istory and Film in History

Dr Emma Hunter: African History on Screen and in the Classroom: Moving Images in the teaching of African History

Dr Emma Sandon: Colonial Film: Moving Images of the British Empire. A 3-year AHRC funded project

Susanne Hammacher: Looking back - Looking Forward: Tasks ad Challenges of an Archival Ethnographic Film Collection and the Digital Future.


The opening paper by Guido Convents presented an overview of some of the problems facing the archival of African film within the local context, with a focus on the DRC. This was supplemented by a screening of documentary made by a young Congolese filmmaker about the current state of an archival unit in Kinshasa.

The presentation and documentary highlighted Convents; key arguement, that whilst there are archives of colonial film (for a European audience and also propagandist or educational film for local African audiences), there is hardly any interest in archiving film that was produced after colonialism.

He develops this further by later proposing that the archive within an African context could also include key films that have influenced early African filmakers, such as European Neorealistic films screened in the 50's, the Western film, etc.

Convents asks whether these films should be considered when thinking of the purpose of the archive within a local context, alongside the local post-colonial productions? That is to say, an understanding of the images that early African filmakers were exposed to, in some way provides an understanding of their own approach to filmmaking, and in turn their cultural influences that pervade all aspects of life. When talking of the diverse cultural influences, Convents gives as an example Papa Wemba's musical influences from the rumba, and his early exposure to the music of Luis Mariano.

Convents provided an exhaustive list of key organisations that have been involved in the archival of African film, FIAF, FIAT, URTNA, UNESCO to mention a few. However the successes of these organisations in prioritising archiving, would seem is dependant on finance and access to technologies that allow for the digital storage of these films, as well as sourcing the films themselves.

Convents' examples from the DRC point at two key problems with the current state of play in archiving African film: firstly the need of local archives for the local, and secondly the lack of interest by Western archives in post-colonial film, both as historical evidence and as a cultural narrative.


Keith Shiri, director of London's African film festival, "Africa at the Pictures", proceeded Convents with a brief personal account of his experience of African film, and a sample screening of the variety of work emerging on the continent ranging from Nollywood to higher production value "Relentless" see below:

RELENTLESS from Fortproject on Vimeo.

You can read more about this film by Andy Amadi Okoroafor at this blog:
Dodge and Burn

or go directly to the films official website:

Keith Shiri's presented his current project; the setting up of a UK based distribution company for African film which will be officially launching towards the end of the year. He believes that this will act as a platform to ensure that African filmmakers interests are best served and to promote African film in the UK.

Although the title of the scheduled talk was "African Film and Documentary : The Contemporary Scene", Mr Shiri's talked veered away from the topic, and focused more on the workings of the distribution company. It did not deliver the expected overview or flavour of contemporary African film or documentary, and was dissapointing to a degree.

The setting up of an official distribution company was met with support as it is clear that African filmmakers face an increasingly difficult task in disseminating their films to larger audiences. However there was little further discussion on what the greater implications of distribution:
such as creating audiences,
where they intend to screen the films,
what selection criteria they use for programming,
what are the problems African filmmakers face,
what are the current emergent technologies and how they are impacting on distribution, such as DVD or DV?

Although Mr Shiri evidently carries a knowledge of the contemporary landscape of African film, he was not clear in identifying some of these key issues.


Prof. Vivien Birkette-Smith's paper on film as historical evidence, and film as history raised some interesting salient observations about the uses of the moving image by the historian. Here he identifies three key ways that historians engage with film; film as evidence, film in history, film as history.

The questions that were raised here presented the difficulties that historians face when turning to the moving image as history, such as the possibility of error, oversimplification, a lack of context. He also provides the counter position in defense of film stating that it can draw attention to 'uncomfortable truths' and reveal a sense of history.

Birkette-Smith provides ample sources of literature in this field, and developed his arguement thoroughly, presenting a strong case for the possibility of seeing the uses of different types of film as history in history.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

animation theory... the limits of Cholodenko / or limiting the limitless

the observations below are still work in progress and do not reflect the extent of my arguement, nor that of Cholodenko's writings... it is if you like intial musings on this book - with probably more to follow....

The Illusion of Life II, Alan Cholodenko's second publication, is an attempt to address or re-address the perceived lack of critical theoretical literature in this field. The premise of Cholodenko's argument posits that it can only be through post-modernist discourses that any true attempt at theorising on animation can take place.

Although Cholodenko correctly identifies that problems associated with animations peripheral position in relation to "traditional" film theory, and other media - his focus on the pervasive-ness of animation in contemporary visual culture lends itself to becoming all encompassing of any media/ or art. He argues that as animated technology predated and informed film, theoretical positions should see all film (and other forms) as animations. Therefore rather than animation being subservient to film, and lesser than, in actual fact the reverse is true.

This position is not a new idea, and echoes the preoccupations of Cholodenko's contemporaries, whom he proceeds to critique for their limited view of the form. However although the premise is correct Cholodenko's limitless paradigm, applying the term animation to refer to any visual media, makes it impossible to begin to address the specific details of this medium.

He frames most of his argument by claiming that he draws from Derrida, Freud, Baudrillard, and other postmodernist thinking, but fails to specifically identify which aspects of these writings are used to inform how he theorises animation.

I suppose my personal biggest bone of contention with Cholodenko's 100 page introduction to his book, is his repeated claim
"The theorizing of the first (theorizing film as a form of animation) at once calls for the re-thinking of all aspects o film through animation and opens the door to thinking animation beyond film, including theorising all other art and media as forms of animation - drawing, painting, sculpture, photography, TV, video, computer, new media etc."

Herein lies the paradoxical position of Cholodenko, it is apparent that other art forms (as he lists) are NOT animation ALL of the time, and therefore it would be fair to say that animation draws from the artistic practices such as those listed above, and employs aspects of each medium, within the realm of the animated form.
The animation retains qualities to it that are particular and specific to the medium, of course it pervades into various forms and vice-versa, however I feel that Cholodenko's argument is too ambitious in its grand claims.

The risk Cholodenko's discourse faces, is the inability to realise and identify the aesthetic formal qualities that do make the experience of watching an animation still to date, different to watching a film, or looking at a painting, etc. His examples of cases whereby animation appears (or as he argues IS) evident in contemporary visual media whether in Kill Bill, The Matrix, Computer Gaming, etc is true, but inorder to identify this as such one needs to be able to define what it is we are looking at. Consequentially if we know WHAT animation is, then we can begin to see HOW it appears in our visual culture. The reverse arguement, that Cholodenko puts forward, that all visual media are animation, does not move as any closer to identifying what we are looking at, and how it bears similarities and differences to other forms.

When Cholodenko refutes Richard Leskosky's heralding of animation studies as a new discipline, he defines the notion of the discipline as something that requires coherence, stability, a state of oneness. Here Cholodenko is self-contradictory: positioning the notion of discipline as if it were a singular undifferentiated body of knowledge. Considering Cholodenko's advocation of the postmodern, this definition hardly resembles a postmodernist stance; that acknowledging the possibility of a variety of discourses, positionings, forces and tensions, within one discipline.

How and why is this relevant to the study of African animation?
If contemporary writing on animation theory has been limited or limiting (as Cholodenko states), then writings on African animation within theoretical paradigms of the moving image and visual culture are practically non-existant.
My own approach to discussing African animation within a theoretical framing, has had to be one that draws from analogous modes of opperandum when discussing the image, moving or otherwise, and visual cultures.

In short, although I agree with Cholodenko in his identifying the limitations of animation theory and in his mission to promote animation as a the medium that superceeds and consequentially informs all others (here I would put a clause and state MOVING image) - I cannot negate that the versatility of its aesthetic form draws from other practices that inturn inform HOW we understand and read the image. Its context of production and distribution, the implications of the technology, and the speciic cultural underpinnings that make African animation what it is today, are all relevant to my understanding of it.

In a sense, I too draw from postmodernist thinking, drawing webs of links, forces and tensions, that make the artefact reside in this visual culture space. My method has been one that looks at anthropological literature, post-colonial theory, media theory (to an extent), film theory, genre, the relationship between form, practice and aesthetic, art theory, iconography or otherwise, etc - all this in an attempt to understand what makes animation unique, and what makes African animation (used loosely here, but meaning different examples of animation from various African countries) unique and unlike its Western counterpart....

The task at hand... a hard one that makes deciphering the subtleties all the more difficult, more so if I was to approach the task utilising Cholodenko's position.

For more information on Cholodenko's position you can read his article on the Animation Studies On-line Journal

Saturday, April 18, 2009

track... Yancouba Dieme

Track is a 3 week project produced all over France by 4 visiting student directors in 2007.The directors are Tanvi Bhatia (India), Anatoily Lavrenishin ( Ukraine), Yancouba Dieme ( Senegal) and Paola Guigou ( France)


animation in Senegal...

Little is known about the emergence of animation in Dakar, Senegal. Most hits for a search on animation in Senegal will point you to the company Pictoon that ran the animated series Kabongo Le Griot, but that has now folded. The local artists that were trained in-house by the company acquired the skills of traditional animators, and some of them have gone on to direct their own work. Recently on the radar is the young, Yancouba Dieme - who also has a blog and it would seem is currently undertaking his studies at Supinfocom. His appearance on the festival circuit is evidenced at FCAT African Film Festival, Tarifa , with his stop-motion film Champion 2005.
An other contemporary,Piniang - as he is known (Ibrahima Niang)- shares a similar work background at Pictoon, with evidence of commissioned animated work, as well as collaboration and participation on UNESCO's Africa Animated Project. His work includes referencing his own paintings and the use of found objects. He also featured in the 8th Biennale of Contemporary African Art at IFA (Berlin)
For more information on Piniang's work see the article on Africultures

One early Pictoon Animation

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

on politics and animation in Kenya

Kenyan animation has recently been on the increase with evidence of animated shorts popping on the web through distribution mechanisms like youtube. Of interest is perhaps the emergence of political satire as a format, perhaps with links to political cartooning as the in the case of cartoonist GADO's recent puppet and 2D animation - The XYZ Show. Other examples can be seen on the Kenyanimation blog with Ihira's 2D animation "The Stated Opinionn Show" that follows a similar format and also uses political satire as its content. However trailing through U-tube one also comes across various other little animated skits that are akin to political cartooning using the same visual devices here are a couple of examples from Politoons

These animations may be inspired by the news/political spoofs on local stations like KTN's News Shot and CTV's News Aside, that are satirising local politics.

and finally Kenyan's interest in politics takes on any form as this article by the BBC on a inventive young political cartoonist shows...
Kenya's Busstop Cartoonist