“For Africa to me……is more than a glamorous fact. It is a historical truth. No man can know where he is going unless he knows exactly where he has been and exactly how he arrived at his present place.” Maya Angelou
“There is that great African proverb — that until the lions have their own historians, the history of the hunt will always glorify the hunter. That did not come to me until much later. Once I realized that, I had to be a writer. I had to be that historian. It’s not one man’s job. It’s not one person’s job. But it is something we have to do, so that the story of the hunt will also reflect the agony, the travail — the bravery, even, of the lions.” Chinua Achebe
This week on LR, we introduce you to Adamu Waziri and his team; some of the people who understand and share Chinua Achebe’s vision that it is not one person’s job to positively turn the story of the African continent around. They understand that it is the collective effort of many persons across the globe to turn this Continent made up of 54 nations around for the better and just like Maya Angelou said, they want to tell the African story with an African voice – to do this, all Africans need to know where they have been and how they arrived at their present place. CNN has called the work of Adamu Waziri and his team Africa’s answer to Dora the Explorer while others have called them Nigeria’s answer to Nickelodeon but we call them the team re-shaping African minds and giving an African voice to the African story.
“ Cartoon characters are as endearing to many adults as they are to children and I have always wanted to do cartoons. So when the opportunity arose I went for it. My desire was for the first cartoon series executed by my team to be an inspirational, enlightening positive and educational one for young children. That’s how ‘Bino and Fino’ came about.
Around 2007 when ‘Bino and Fino’ was birthed, there was a paucity of truly African educational cartoons made for children. At that time in Nigeria, there were no indigenous cartoon shows that showed children a true reflection of who they are or their African heritage. All the cartoon shows were imported and had no link to Africa in any indigenous way. So my team and I decided to take matters into our own hands and tell our African stories ourselves. Engaging and enlightening our future leaders about their heritage and their uniqueness.
The main characters of ‘Bino and Fino’, a brother and sister who live in an African city are not based on anyone in particular although their grandparents are loosely based on my own grandparents.
Through these characters, historic cultures of different African nations are portrayed and a gentle metamorphosis of modern day living is infused therein. That way, we grow a generation of Africans proud of their heritage, who understand their roots and are willing to integrate on their own terms with modernization.
We plan to widen the ‘Bino and Fino’ character scope to enable the show’s series handle a wider selection of educational subjects. So, in the coming full season expect more friends and family members.
Click the link above to let ‘Bino and Fino’ enlighten us on walls – rest assured it is not the Mexican/American wall
Over the years, it has taken the hard work of me and my team, to continue the task of actualizing our vision. Tenacity and dedication are keywords and the reason we are where we are today. It takes about a month to create an average 10 minutes episode of the cartoon. The challenge of mastering the patience required to produce quality work is little when compared with the funding hurdles we have to deal with.
Funding has been our greatest challenge I would say. We wanted the cartoon to be entirely produced in Nigeria. We don’t have an animation industry in Nigeria but we have talented young animators with little organisational structure as there are very few dedicated animation studios. So finding and training the animators has been a challenge while ensuring quality control has also been an issue. There is also the challenge of distribution of the cartoon, piracy and getting a return on the investment in the production. Furthermore, there are the basic infrastructural challenges facing most businesses in Nigeria from which we are not exempt. There were and are many more challenges but there is no point boring people with them. The important thing is that we’re finding solutions to them. “Finding solutions” is imperative and paramount because we need to tell our own stories as a people. We cannot wait for Disney to tell our stories for us anymore; those days are gone.
For the young ones out there, we at ‘Bino and Fino’ can tell you one thing that surely works because we have tried it and it worked and has continued to work for us. That is for you to believe in your dreams and never give up. The key is consistency.
Adamu Waziri and his team understand what the child psychologists preach incessantly; that the undisputed capacity our human brains have for learning is at its peak in the early years between 0-6 years. This is also when humans are most impressionable and able to develop an attitude of positive self-esteem. It is therefore apparent, that children understanding their roots and having proper self-realisation can only lead to positive adults. The kind of adults with a firm belief in their abilities who are ready to turn our world around for good. Children’s media is thus one of the most powerful tools when it comes to the shaping minds of our future leaders.
‘Bino and Fino’ along with ‘Zena’ the all-knowing butterfly provide characters African children across the world can identify with and relate to. Utilising stories, language and learning tools that promote the beauty of their origins, Waziri and his team have received worldwide appreciation for reinforcing the self-esteem of children and even adults of colour.
Chinua Achebe, Maya Angelou and other African voices before us, can now rest easy in the Lord because there are many like Waziri and his team, who are now taking action in line with the directives from the great African proverb — that until the lions have their own historians, the history of the hunt will always glorify the hunter. The historians and storytellers of the Lions are now at work – they are telling the story of the hunt in their own way, using their own words and their own cartoons to show that the African Continent is not a dense dark forest while also reviving the pride of the African people.
“Mummy, can I watch ‘Bino and Fino’ now you have finished using the desktop?” my son asked me just as I put the last full stop for this script. Hmmm……, what a coincidence I thought. “Yes, yes you can!” I answered. “But on one condition – that we watch it together again today as usual”.
As for you my dear readers, how can we help with the challenges described by this team? Remember, if we think about it, we can do it. As you all begin to put on your thinking hats, we leave you the words of Kwame Nkrumah “I am an African not because I was born in Africa, but because Africa is born in me. This translates to mean your geographical location or skin colour is irrelevant; ‘Africaness’ is a ‘soul thing’. So, irrespective of your geographical location, skin pigmentation or hair type, kindly leave us your comments on how much Africa is born in you and how best we should tell our stories before you watch your own ‘Bino and Fino’ clips and relieve your very own ‘Bino and Fino’ experience.
*Article for this week put together by Loretta Ogboro-Okor and Erhio Obodo*