binoandfino binoandfino

“Bino and Fino” is Nigeria’s Answer to Nickelodeon

Nigerian animator Adamu Waziri is the creator of a new animated series Bino and Fino, an African-produced preschool TV series that aims to show a more acccurate representation of children growing up on the African continent.

In the interview below, which is well worth viewing, Waziri talks about how Africa is portrayed by Western entertainment companies: “When Disney does something about Africa, you get singing animals, safari. You don’t see any buildings, you don’t see any people in a house, you don’t see people living a normal urban life, like in Lagos, Abuja, wherever in Africa you are.”

It’s not just misrepresentation by American media conglomerates, but also underrepresentation. Nick and Cartoon Network have African channnels that make no effort to represent their viewership in those regions. In Africa, Nick airs Dora the Explorer, The Mighty B!, and Ni Hao, Kai-Lan but features no African characters in its TV series.

In this recent CNN article, Waziri talks about the challenges of home-grown animation in Nigeria. Sponsors still aren’t used to the slow production time of animation, especially when Nollywood features are produced in a month or less, and many Nigerians still have a “West is best” mentality. But he maintains a positive outlook and recognizes the possibilities for animation in the world’s second most populated continent: “Nigeria and other parts of Africa aren’t poor, you have businessmen, the infrastructure, the ability to link up and make studios, finance it and sponsor it and make the market–stop waiting for Disney to do it, do it yourself.”

  • James Madison

    Thanks, Amid. Good and informative post.

  • Kev

    Thank you for this post. If we wait on Disney or CN to do it, it will never get done. Not entirely because of race, but also because of money. There is so much potential in these types of productions, and so many stories to be told. Networks need to wake up and start representing the wide range of cultures that support them every day.

  • Right on man. I’m from South Africa. I agree that even people FROM AFRICA have been tricked into seeing ourselves from the American mirror we look into. Got to kind of consciously snap out of it. Was thinking about this recently. There’s a wealth of culture to draw upon in our own backyard. The truth is probably that a lot of countries are somewhat homogenized in the cities. Bleh.

    • Chris Sobieniak

      Which seems to be the way it is I guess, but hopefully more works could be developed in the future to best utilized that wealth of culture that has been there for centuries to create such innovative and wonderful productions.

    • Tom

      Apologies that this isn’t related to the article, but Mike, I just want to tell you that I absolutely love your work for the Goldfish music videos! Keep it up :)

  • Big shout out to my homeland from your child all the way in the U.S.!
    Glad to see that I’m not the only one who feels this way! Keep making our nation proud, Mr. Waziri!

  • That little girl looks like Mickey Mouse.

  • Jody Morgan

    I like how that still looks, and I wish Adamu Waziri and other African animators the best of luck; their success will enrich the world community.

  • Sarah J

    That’s nice. Kind of sad that even with how diverse the US is, shows here don’t always try to represent other cultures and races. Which is a shame not just for the audiences, but that there are a lot of other stories and themes that could be explored.

  • Face

    GO Africa!

  • Justin Delbert

    Hang on a second, are you saying there were specifically no Afican characters from Africa in the Mighty B!? I know there was an African AMERICAN, but nobody FROM Africa? I’m kind of confused right now.

    • iseewhatyoudidthere

      Culture is important. Although the girl is African-American in ethnicity, she, doesn’t represent the culture of a Nigerian, South African, or Kenyan (etc.) person.

      It would be like if a show about a sixth generation Mexican American person being shown in Mexico—scratch that. Since we are talking about a minor character in Mighty B, it would be like taking a sixth-generation, Mexican-American SIDE-CHARACTER from a show, importing that show to a Mexican network, and expecting it to catch on just because.

  • Matt Sullivan

    Well excuse us for at least ATTEMPTING to give some attention to African culture ( aka Lion King ) And unless I forgot, I thought MULAN, LILO & STITCH, and other films WERE representative of non White “worldly” cultures. Shows like DORA, MUCHA LUCHA, and others have been made. But you’d never know it by the way some people complain about AMERICAN entertainment. I’m sorry if some people will see this as “racist”, but I am SO DAMN TIRED of hearing how bad Americans are when we make AMERICAN films.

    Tell me, when was the last time a country made a film about American culture? Oh that’s right. THEY DON’T. It’s always, “the white man did this, or bad capitalist that, or, you stole my land and I’m just taking it back” that. No one ever makes a film meant to showcase the majesty of American culture. Unless its an American Indian. Because all Indians are noble and the white people who live in the present don’t have a culture. We just have to stand back and “celebrate” other cultures.

    And while we’re at it, who SAID we had to represent all racial cultures here in the U.S.? We’re Americans. ( as someone who’s adopted and knows nothing of his so-called “culture” the only culture I identify with is that of being an American. ) But now we have all this “Multicultural” PANDERING. Yes, I said it. PANDERING. And pandering isn’t the same as RESPECTING a foreign culture. I respect foreign cultures. I live in Los Angeles. I see them every day. I hear all types of languages ( well, mostly Spanish ) And I work in animation, so I work with and know people from Korea, Russia, Philippines, Japan, all great people.

    No one will make a normal movie about white, English speaking American culture anymore. Because featuring the majority population in a movie without representing a minority character(s) is now racism. A black man can do a white voice in a cartoon, but if a white man does a black guys voice it’s suddenly racist. Rush Limbaugh can call a woman a slut and be labeled a villain, while minority activists can say all sorts of awful things and get away with it because they’re liberals. Hypocrisy is everywhere, but here in Hollywood, it’s definitely slanted toward liberalism. The last cartoon I worked on was all about how anyone who opposes illegal immigration is racist and how we just don’t appreciate the Mexican culture enough. Good God, we “appreciate” it every day.

    A movie is being made about “Epic Beard Man” EBM is white. And who’s playing him? DANNY TREJO. Now imagine if we got a white American to play Pancho Villa or some other Mexican character. People would be protesting in the streets, thumping their chests, crying “RACISM!” But we’ll accept this movie, because if we speak up to oppose it, we’re racists and we aren’t open minded.

    Last time I pitched a film, it had a Mexican American lead. But they wouldn’t make it. (Perhaps because it sucked, tho I like to think to the contrary, but I digress)But maybe that’s a good thing. I have to imagine at some point, if it HAD been made, and people (especially advocacy groups) found out it had been written by a white man, SOME kind of controversy would have erupted, and any perceived negative aspect of that character’s personality would have been labeled “racist”. Someone ALWAYS finds something to bitch about! And maybe that’s why this post is so long winded. Quite frankly, I’m surprised it’s affecting me this much.

    Another thing about my pitch, they didn’t buy it because they said it was “Too American and won’t appeal to the International market” I don’t know about you, but that pissed me off.

    • What part of that article gave you the impression that “Bino and Fino” was meant to be aired in the US (althougth that would be nice)? And which Ruler of the World made that law that all animation must be produced in the US? What’s so totally wrong about a Nigerian animator doing animation about nigerian themes in Nigeria?

      • Matt Sullivan

        Slowtiger wrote:”And which Ruler of the World made that law that all animation must be produced in the US?”

        I never said that. Or hinted at it. I’m actually glad this kind of animation is being produced. I was reacting to a few comments ( in the video and the comments section ) I’m very nationalist so anything that comes off as a dig against American animation sorta rubs me the wrong way. But I never said it was bad for others to make animation outside the US. I think perhaps I overreacted. I’m just very irritated by the forced “internationalization” of commercial US animation.

    • You’re reading far too much into Waziri’s comments. He’s not saying it’s sad that America isn’t making cartoons about Africans, he’s saying it’s sad that Africans aren’t making (enough) cartoons about Africans and so have to rely on foreign imports.

      I don’t know if you watched the interview clip, but when he made his comment about Disney’s cartoons having singing animals and safari he wasn’t passing judgment on what Disney should or shouldn’t be doing, he was identifying a path which he wanted to avoid with his own work.

      Hence why he’s not campaigning for Disney to make a cartoon set in Nigeria. He’s making a cartoon set in Nigeria himself.

    • Julian

      I don’t really understand what you’re saying. You’re talking about minorities in one country. This is about a Nigerian man in Nigeria, making a cartoon that appeals to Nigerian culture. America makes films about white people all the time, and throws them all over the world like everyone is just dying to see a movie that speaks on the culture of one country in mid-North America. Not saying it’s wrong, not saying a white person should have to make a movie about a minority or another culture, but that being said, a man that has nothing to do with America can’t make a cartoon about his own country and culture?

    • iseewhatyoudidthere

      The article was about how networks in AFRICA were not seeing work representative of Africa. Many countries in Asia and South America have some of their own, culturally representative cartoons mixed in with American toons. That is all they are asking for.

    • Hmm…I think the issue (as probably loads of other comments have already stated) is that Western culture is so *prevalent* in African television animation that us Africans have been kind of brainwashed into almost seeing our own countries through American eyes. Its not America’s fault – they don’t have to pander to other country’s at all. If anything, its our own fault for not picking up the ball and making enough local content *of quality* to compete with what content providers are showing. Its a bit of a tricky one, I’ve been part of a couple starters where we’ve tried to make something competitive. On one occasion a great idea was funded by someone who very quickly put it through the washer and sucked a lot of the humour and edginess out of it and it became a stale Saturday morning cartoon on a local channel…vetted too much I think. On another occasion, we have a great local IP comic strip that would be an awesome animated series. Funded again (sadly) by the same guy and his company. Death-by-committee kind of nailed it early on, I was the only animator trying to prep an entire pipeline of a 25 minute show, hands kind of tied behind my back as he had a satellite team wanting to do stuff that wasn’t doing stuff. I digress. Point is, in Africa, you kind of HAVE to just do it yourself which is Adamu’s pluck, and a pluck that I take my hat off too. I’ve also gone that route, just doing stuff on my own bat. I got a project approved by KICKSTARTER and was like YEEHAA TAKE THAT LOCAL INVESTORS but sadly I needed an American bank account to proceed to the next stage, and I haven’t been able to get one.

      Someday, I’ll figure it out. And hopefully Adamu has the vision to see this project through.

      On another somewhat related note, I managed to finish an entire 52-part series of interstitials by myself, sound, animation, everything. I think they’re awesome, but I haven’t been able to find a buyer yet ha ha.

      Anyways. On with the show.

      • Mike it looks like you’ve put the time and hard work in. You’ve been through a lot.

        I’m not sure what the atmosphere is for the animation sector is in South Africa. In Nigeria I’d say corporate and broadcasting institutions don’t care.

        BUT I now understand why and I keep telling animators here that it’s our job to MAKE them care.We have to be professional, ‘aggressive’ and actually provide something of value that hopefully people will pay for. It’s not ideal but it’s the situation we find ourselves.

        I have a small team here as well and I’m doing my best to build up a proper little animation studio.It’s been interesting to say the least.

    • Carl Russo

      Pity the Angry White Male, so oppressed, so misunderstood a victim of racism. And that multicultural stuff–why, it threatens to destroy uniculturalism!

      Love the defense of Rush Limbaugh, too. Stay classy, Matt!

    • Okay…look, man. I don’t have much patience for robotic political correctness, but there is a LOT wrong with your comment, and I mean a LOT.

      Why don’t other countries make films about Americans and American culture, while our film/TV industry “panders” to minorities, you ask? I should think the answer is obvious. Because most other countries do not have the same kind of potpourri demographics that America has. We are a tossed salad of people from every part of the world. Most other nations do not have this trait, and it is not a part of their identity the way it is for us.

      And having said that…

      “No one will make a normal movie about white, English speaking American culture anymore. Because featuring the majority population in a movie without representing a minority character(s) is now racism.”

      Honestly, I do not know what on earth you’re talking about. MOST movies are about “white, English speaking American culture.” The majority of Hollywood films, to my eye, are about young, white professionals. That’s doubly true for TV. It’s a very narrow prism. I ride the NYC subway every day. I look around at the people I’m riding with—-the tired-looking thirtysomething black man who’s just come from some labor job, the middle-aged Latina who’s carrying two grocery bags, the primly dressed Caribbean student engrossed in an IT coursebook, the spiky-haired Asian teen in a frayed jacket and skinny jeans bopping his head to his iPod—–when do you see any movies about any of them? I sure don’t. Give me a freakin’ break, huh? And give them a break. Someone let their stories be told. We haven’t heard them. Not much.

      “A black man can do a white voice in a cartoon, but if a white man does a black guys voice it’s suddenly racist.”

      Yeah, that’s why the streets were PACKED with angry demonstrators protesting Mike Henry voicing the title character of “The Cleveland Show.” Jeez.

      “Rush Limbaugh can call a woman a slut and be labeled a villain, while minority activists can say all sorts of awful things and get away with it because they’re liberals.”

      Limbaugh’s words were puerile and vile on a level that precludes any justifiable use of them in a relativism exercise. Period. That’s it.

      And also, as others have said, this is about an AFRICAN animator making shows for an AFRICAN audience. Jeez Louise. Chill out, huh?

  • Matt Sullivan

    Justin, African Americans or Latino American characters don’t count to these people. They see them as Uncle Toms and Uncle Juans, not ethnic enough, and too American. That’s at least how I see it.

    • Again, you’re reading too much into things. He wants cartoons about life in contemporary Africa (specifically Nigeria). Black people in America aren’t relly relevant to this, not because they’re “uncle Toms”, but because they’re not part of life in contemporary Africa.

      I mean, would you call The Wire a series about society in Ireland simply because the main character is of Irish descent?

      • Matt Sullivan

        i don’t watch the wire, therefore, i don’t get your comment.

        But I think I know what you mean ^-^ Me overreact. Me sowwy…

    • If there’s ONE generalization I can make from several years of casually exploring the black blogosphere, it’s that you CAN’T generalize about things like that. There is simply no agreement whatsoever on minority characters and whether they’re awkward or not. Ask five people and you’ll get six opinions.

      Due to my own creative endeavors, I may well find myself on the wrong end of this dynamic someday, and I might not. Or both. I do not know. But whatever does happen, I know this: regardless of what they’re saying, whoever speaks up will not be speaking for everyone.

  • Matt Sullivan

    On a less confrontational note, what’s to stop anyone from the US from going to another country and investing in animators THERE to make cartoons?

    Why is it SAD that we aren’t trying hard enough to make cartoons that appeal to foreigners even though we’re Americans, and, according to the tone of this article, HAVE NO BUSINESS making films about other cultures?

    • iseewhatyoudidthere

      Once again, you seemed to have missed the point of the article. It is not about Americans making cartoons in America with the prospects of appealing to foreigners.

      It’s about American networks that distribute programming and how they will distribute culturally relevant cartoons mixed with American cartoons in some countries, but the same is not being done to the same extent in Nigeria, so a Nigerian animator is making original content by himself without waiting on a foreign network system to do it for him.

      Not to be rude, but I am starting to wonder if you even read most of the article, or if you just skimmed for buzzwords.

      • Matt Sullivan

        i think my blood sugar was high. :D

  • Thanks for the feature on our Bino and Fino cartoon Amid.Much appreciated. And thanks for all the supportive comments guys.

    There’s one thing I wanted to say. I love cartoons from all over the world so it’s not an either or scenatio for me. It’s more a matter of balance really. I’ve got nothing against Nickolodeon or Cartoon Network.

    It’s more the fact that for some reason we don’t have many African cartoon series that aren’t funded by some international aid organisation or something. Actually, now we’ve started production, I now know what the difficulties are doing one in the Nigerian working environment. Things will change over time though as we wise up. If it’s not our cartoon it’ll be one of the others I know are in production.

    All the best.

    • The Gee

      All the best to and for you.

  • I can’t watch the video where I am now, but I plan to.

    I do, however, want to touch on the topic of localization. Cartoon Network and Nickelodeon co-finance or produce localized programming for the UK, Germany, Australia, and several other markets because it’s lucrative to do so.

    Yeah, it would be great to have original, natively-produced programming that is broadcasting in their own region, finance or marketed by these broadcasters, but the money isn’t always there. Plus, in most other cases, I’m led to believe that diversity of programming isn’t there either… if Cartoon Network is looking for a boys’ adventure title for the 9-14 demo, chances aren’t very good that you will find an original item produced to these network specifications for each and every territory. It’s not just about getting original content on-air, it’s also about whether viewer trends can be met with the resources available.

  • Julian

    It’s not an issue of CN and Nick, it’s an issue of American and Japanese companies generally holding a shared monopoly on animation in the world, and that changing with newer media and easier access to technology. No, I don’t have anything against stuff from Nick, CN, or anime, I agree an artist is going to make a cartoon that speaks to his/her life and culture so stuff from America is going to portray American life and culture, but that being said, it’s nice to see people from all around the globe are finally starting to come into the animation picture, thus making it more diverse and competitive.

  • CJ

    I hope this succeeds!

  • Matt Sullivan

    I take offense at the comment “America throws its product all over the world” OK, no one’s forcing anyone to BUY or watch that product. You are free to see it, or not see it. the kind of comment that set me off earlier. Just to be clear. It was in no way meant to criticize the actual animation or the artist who created it.

    • The Brewmasters

      Matt – You’ve made seven comments on this post. Please don’t hijack the comment thread and divert the discussion toward your own agenda.

      • Matt Sullivan

        The focus of this article WAS meant to promote someone else’s work. Sorry if we got off track.

  • Tim

    Amid, Wonderful post thanks so much bringing this to everyone’s attention, and to Adamu Waziri best of luck with your venture.

  • Bob Harper

    This is very inspirational. I wish them all the luck. I was saddened to hear that white Barbies outsold black Barbies in many countries in Africa. It’s not only important to have cartoons like this for the sake of their own community, but for the rest of the world so we can all share in diversity.

  • TStevens

    One of the coolest parts about the technology that we have today is that a very small group of people can literally produce and distribute what would have taken dozens of people and millions of dollars to do just ten or fifteen years ago. People forget very fast how hard it use to be to produce animation of any kind. I think that we all have to sit back and remember that CN and Nick might have a stranglehold on TV distribution, but that hardly makes a difference anymore. Since the advent of YouTube, Vimeo, and Facebook good animation can and will find an audience. This is the first time in the history of film making that people can produce and distribute at the local level almost anywhere in the world and have an international audience.

    Getting caught up in conservative vs liberal ideology is missing the bigger point. The traditional lines of production and distribution have given way to a DIY approach of film making where the creator really is the king.

    • I totally agree. Without social media and new tech. We wouldn’t have been able to produce and market our cartoon to an audience.

  • Hi Matt,
    It’s hard to address some of you points without looking at things from a wider geo-political standpoint. I have nothing against the US as a country or the ‘west’ or for want of a better term ‘developed’ countries. However one can’t deny certain things that have been done in the name of those same countries. I don’t want to get too deep into it here because this isn’t a political forum but a lot of what you are saying is political.

    BUT no country or people are perfect. We have enough crazy self-destructive behaviour going on here in Nigeria to last a lifetime. I just see things as a power game. The US looks after number one and so does the UK, Europe, China etc. They have every right to do so in my opinion. The problem is when it hurts other countries and the leaders in the countries don’t get it. It’s about time African countries do the same. So much has gone on historically and still goes on. This power game also plays out on the media front.

    Having said all that, my question is if you don’t like it do you do about it? Bringing it back to animation, as this is Cartoon Brew after all, I decided to do something about it. As some of the other commenters have pointed out, I don’t expect or want any US company to make a cartoon series based on modern/ancient West African cultural references. It doesn’t make sense. Hey they’re welcome to. In my opinion that’s our job.

    We have to do what the US, Europe and Japan etc did. Stop complaining and build our own animation industries and voices from nothing. Even if the global animation industry is now different to 70 years ago. We have to prove ourselves both nationally and internationally. That is our responsibility and no one else’s.

    Ideally I’d love to watch cartoons from all over the world and have a Nigerian or African version of Cartoon Network alongside Cartoon Network itself. That’s all really.

    I hope you understand where I’m coming from.

  • I think cartoons like these are great. They speak to the actual culture they are trying to entertain.
    I remember my first Nigerian party I went to, ( my neighbors invited me to their shindig in Atlanta), and the party started at 8 pm.
    Well, I was there at 8:30, the first one there. People started to drib and drab in at around 10, with the party actually starting at 11. Everybody got a kick out of me being so early. Annie, who invited me, laughed and said she should have told me about ‘Nigerian’ time.
    Then, at the buffet, all of the food was explained to me,(soup is cooked until all the liquid is gone, making it easy to scoop with the hand), and after getting a plate, the lady at the end said “you will want these” and gave me a fork and spoon.
    It was a real eye opener, and a lot of fun.
    Once people discover that they can get more of these cartoons, etc., the demand will mushroom, and many more will be made.
    Maybe an African version of Cartoon Network isn’t what’s needed. Kind of reminds me of the early days of the internet with all sorts of animation styles popping up on the web, with everyone trying to find their own way.

    • Funny one Fooksie! ‘Nigerian’ time. LOL! It drives me nuts but I can’t deny it exists.

      For me I know we’ll keep pushing and so will other animators and companies out here and in other African countries. Eventually there’ll be more quality content out there from our part of the world.

  • Hats off to you Adamu. I hope your audience grows for your show! As an African American animator I have touched on West African themes in one of my shorts; in particular my Timbuktu cartoon. It addresses the educational emphasis of ancient Timbuktu contrasted with some of the educational problems of the US. Its purpose is to stir up curiosity and interest in school and education with a dry sense of humor. It is a mostly solo effort and currently airs on the Kustomonsters show in the US on AMGTV.
    I applaud your efforts! Keep animating and opening the eyes of the audience!

    • Thanks Craig. The audience is slowly growing but the cartoon has a wonderful group of passionate fans.

      I took a look at your Timbuktu animation. Nice effort. Where can one see the full episode online?

      • Thanks Adamu! You can see the Timbuktu cartoon in episode#7 of The Kustomonsters show on BlipTV.
        I have eight episodes complete so far with more to come! Good luck, they say success goes to the most stubborn, keep animating! lol!

      • Thanks,

        I’ll check it out. We have to ration our internet usage because of monthly data limits but I will check it out.

        People have said that I’m a bit stubborn. So that might work out in my favour! lol

  • Way to go, Adamu Waziri! Keep up the good work! I think you’re brave in your determination to produce the series in Nigeria itself. And I really hope the broadcast companies reward you for that, if not in Nigeria, then in Ghana, Kenya or any other African country.

    I’ve been in Ghana, and the television there clearly supported local music and local soap series, so there should be a market for local animation!

    • Thanks Gijs. I think it’s best we produce them here so we can learn what works here and develop local talent.

      We just have to keep pushing and enjoy the journey.

      • Hi Adamu Waziri… I do not know you in person however one of the community members at Animation West Africa Foundation have sort of showcased the online Bino and Fino – (AWA Foundation is an industry initiative for all practitioners and stakeholders to develop the industry in West Africa) –
        May I ask you how much progress have been recorded so far in the effort to get the production to the bigger world like you mentioned Nickleodeon? our productions truly deserve the encouragement, thanks to BBC for Tinga Tinga tales from Kenya running on their channel in UK at least.
        I am currently in contact with Nick for this kind of reason and if you dont mind to talk to me, I am sure you have enough information to contact me… I dont want to place contact details on here.

        I commend your industry efforts. Cheers.