This blog is partly supposed to be about the issues facing the Nigerian and African animation industry as it fights to produce content for children. I’m going to do a series of posts that relate to the vision and challenges of the Bino and Fino project itself within the context of the African animation industry as I see it.
I remember when I first said I wanted to produce a Nigerian educational cartoon show to friends, I had varied reactions. I might have well said I wanted to become a ballet dancer. They ranged from stunned silence to asking if I had been smoking mushrooms. Of course you have the group of friends who back you up no matter what mad idea you embark on. But they all asked why. Who was going to watch the cartoons? Who was going to PAY to watch the cartoons? What about piracy? All were valid questions. Can we even make cartoons in Nigeria? And honestly those were some of the issues that scared me off going ahead with investing in and starting the Bino and Fino cartoon.
But the funny thing is that it was the same group of friends who convinced me to go ahead. Every single one of them has said to me at one point or another ‘I can’t find many modern African toys for my children’ ‘I’m finding it hard to get African children’s books’ and ‘All we get on our TV stations are foreign cartoons. Where are the African/Nigerian cartoons that show our culture?’ I had to laugh to myself because they were same guys who were asking me why I would do something as crazy as produce a Nigerian cartoon because they wouldn’t know who would watch it. But at the same time they were proving to me that their families were the ones who would watch it.
If you look at it from another angle why wouldn’t families want to watch African cartoons? Disney’s being doing pseudo African cartoons for years with films like Madagascar and Tarzan . Also many pioneers such as Bill Cosby and others risked a lot to get African American cartoons produced. My friends and I were lucky enough to watch cartoons when we grew up in Nigeria. Even though they were all foreign, we loved them all. Voltron and Battle of the Planets (G Force) were our favourites for all you old school heads out there.
With many black children associating their cultures and colour with negativity, I’ve always known that it’s important to produce much more African children’s media for the global market. We need more black educational content for children, simple. Anyone who argues differently is wrong, crazy or deluded. I guess I was just waiting for others, like the NTA (Nigeria’s version of the BBC), to do it. I was just complaining from the sidelines. But as the cliché goes sometimes you have to be part of the change you want. It was time to shut up and put my money where my mouth is. Since animation is my game this made it a possibility.
In the next post in this series I’ll go into the challenges facing the young vibrant Nigerian animation scene and how that affected the Bino and Fino project’s beginnings. By the way the 1st Bino and Fino DVD came out on sale on the 31st of March in the Northern American and European regions on our website at www.binoandfino.com . The journey begins.