Africa is a continent rich with folklore and art. In recent times, a lot of art has been translated into media works. It has filled day to day life and ultimately influences the food we eat, the clothes we wear and the music we listen to. Animation too has been influenced by cultures and cultural beliefs. From American Marvel, to Japanese manga and the European fusion.
The African film industry has grown exponentially and has built a name for itself worldwide. We all know Nollywood. Even if we have not watched the movies, they are played on our TV channels, in our cinemas and advertised on our billboards. It has opened a window into modern Nigeria, Ghana and various other African countries.
But, what has happened to the ‘Animation’ industry? The mix of African art, culture and the wealth of actors and characters should give Africa the edge in this market too. Yet from all research we are still up and coming. With exception of a few companies from countries like South Africa and Kenya currently building a reputation on an international scale, a lot of effort and work has been put in from many small and passionate companies all over the African continent with only the internet as their display. Many are struggling to be acknowledged in their own society. My admiration is for the creators of ‘Pokou Princess Ashanti’ a 3D animation by Ivorian animators. They have worked hard to build awareness of their work in their society and it was released in various cinemas in Côte d’ivore. Other independent artists are making political satire, music and there is a lot of talk about various TV series that have aired abroad and some yet to be featured, triggering some excitement to the genre. Animators work hard with limited funds and resources churning all their artistic flare while crowds are waiting to be wowed by the next big thing.
Promotion and distribution are aimed to build a bridge between the people and the industry. Potential for demand is there in Africa,but it is a relatively new terrain for the industry. The success normally starts in Europe or America to then go back to Africa. The aim is to reverse this trend. The monetary expense and time are all but a small part of the story. The tough part for a promoter in this field, is to be received with scepticism by both animators and distributors alike.