Despite efforts by regional broadcasters and the audiovisual community in Africa, children’s programmes and in particular computer-animated cartoons, are mostly imported from abroad.
This lack of local content is mainly caused by the absence of cost effective production, the lack of ICT equipment and facilities and the lack of people with skills in computer animation.
In order to address this issue, UNESCO has launched Africa Animated!, an initiative that assembles resources and expertise for the production of children’s animated cartoons in Africa. The initiative has started with a series of regional training and production workshops. At a later stage Africa Animated! will establish a regional centre for animation training and production to address the absence of a formal training institution.
Africa Animated! Activities
UNESCO is a regional training initiative targeting regional animators, visual artists, scriptwriters, broadcasters and other media professionals with the aim to build a critical skills base for the production of high quality animated cartoons. Africa Animated! wants to encourage the production of programmes that allow children and young people to hear, see and express themselves. Cartoons that “edutain” while reflecting the African cultures, languages and life experiences. Programmes with African imagery, dialogue and music that draw on the continent’s vast oral and pictorial heritage, reclaiming and preserving it for the next generation.
The development of a cost effective, quality driven and African “branded” training and production model lies at the core of this proposition in order to make African animation competitive for regional and international production. To realize this objective, UNESCO has teamed up with international training institutions which, in collaboration with regional animators, visual and performing artists, producers, children’s programming experts and broadcasters, developed a specialized curriculum. Africa Animated!’s goal is to produce animation with an authentic identity and an Africa feel. The curriculum thus not only focuses on technical skills building, but also includes “cultural retrieval” exercises taught by African storytellers and artists. This process allows the trainees to move beyond the established forms of animation, reflect on their heritage and develop their own, original style in animation.
Africa Animated! Pilot Workshop Summer 2004
The first five week hands-on training workshop held at the Zanzibar International Film Festival and in Nairobi in June/July 2004, successfully showcased the talent, skills and potential in animation production. 15 young African artists with little or no previous experience in animation underwent a tailor-made intensive training. Taught by renowned animators and audiovisual professionals such as Cilia Sawadogo, Concordia University, Montreal, Anezka Sebek, Parsons School of Design, USA, Paula Callus, Bournemouth University, UK, Nina Paley, Parsons School of Design, USA as well as local co-trainers, the workshop included guest lectures by experts in (African) animation and art such as Emma Kaye, South Africa, Silvia Bazzoli, Italy, Mshai Mwangola, Kenya.
The trainees developed and animated their own original children’s stories. The diversity in style and technique reflects their varying skills, ranging from illustrators to cartoonists and painters.
To enhance the capacity building aspect of the project, the postproduction work (editing, music, dialogue) was undertaken by the students from the Mohamed Amin Foundation Media School, Nairobi, ensuring a continued fresh look on the animation and a 100% African product. The resulting animations showcase the regional talent, capacities and creativity that lie dormant, ready to produce films of wonderful imagination if given the training opportunities and technical and financial resources.
Building on the outcome of the first workshop, UNESCO and its partners plan to establish a permanent centre for training and production of animated cartoons in Africa, facilitating the development of computer animation and enhancing creative content production for the youth of Africa and beyond.
Project Partners and Supporters
Numerous partners are supporting the Africa Animated! initiative. These include: Canal France International (CFI), the French Cooperation, French Embassy Nairobi, UNICEF’s Sara Communication Initiative, Bournemouth University, UK, Parsons School of Design, USA, Concordia University, Canada, Kenya College of Communications Technology (KCCT), URTNA, SABA, SABC, KTN.
For further information on Africa Animated! and on how to join this initiative please contact:
UNESCO Regional Advisor for Communication and Information
Tel. +(254-20) 622346
Fax: +(254-20) 622324