Some call it Nollymation: A Little Bit on African Animation

Paula Callus has just published a blog entry about these days’ A3 Genesis, an event organised by the Kenyan Association of Animation Artists. The event was intended to ‘offer one of the largest animation platforms in East Africa.’ She considers the event ‘was a resounding success with a full house attendance. The speakers including Dumi, from Anamazing Workshop, South Africa, Claudia Lloyd from Tiger Aspect Studios, UK/Kenya and the Know Zone Team, all provided a great flavour of current commercial and non-profit productions that are running in Kenya, and South Africa.’ So, it seems like this is an exciting time to work in and conduct research about African animation! If you happen to be interested check out Paula’s website, the programme of the workshop and the website of the Association of Animation Artists Kenya.

And Nigeria? Well, you might recall that only recently the SHOOT 2009 workshop took place in Jos. Although the event is not exclusively concerned with animation, to quote the Nigerian Tribune, ‘Animation and Sound featured at SHOOT! 2009 as core courses for the training workshop.’ – Find the complete article here. Another article has been published at Next Magazine.

And don’t forget Nigeria’s first animated feature film Lifepspan by Mighty Jot Studies. You might remember what Next Magazine wrote about it (I think I published the link on this blog):

Written and directed by Stanlee Ohikhuare, the film is titled ‘Lifespan’, and will be released in cinemas locally but will stand up to the best that is out there internationally.

A pioneer in 3D technology in Nigeria, Ohikhuare is well known for his television commercials for various companies and brand names, including Zain, Coca cola and Chicken Republic. He had to stop two other films in other to concentrate on ‘Lifespan’, a self-funded project which has taken three years to make.

Lifespan is a compelling movie whose central theme is the scourge of malaria. In an imaginative leap, the film is set in the past, about 4,000 years ago in the ancient Benin Kingdom.

A colony of mosquitoes are split, with one group wanting to remain the bloodsucking predators that nature has made; while the other group prefers to tow the line of prudence to ensure their survival by other means and be less menacing to humans. They attempt to get a magical potion for malaria, and so embark on a quest to a cave inhabited by men.

The aim is to get a dose of human blood to perform a purification ritual that will end the spread of malaria forever and lead to a peaceful co-existence with mankind. But all is not what it seems, and there are hidden agendas and selfish interests are at play.

In a trailer preview, we glimpse a movie which when released would be comparable to the best that Hollywood has to offer, including blockbusters like ‘Antz’, ‘Happy Feet’, ‘A Shark’s Tale’ and ‘Madagascar’ – all standout works in new technology driven movie making. Ohikhuare hopes giants like Walt Disney will help with the international distribution and marketing of ‘Lifespan’.

The film was also noted by

Lifespan is a Mighty Jot Animation Studios production, which involves creating animation for commercials, movies and other productions. Mighty Jot aims at pioneering the evolution of a new, dynamic and internationally viable movie cartoon in Nigeria. At this stage, the project is 67 per cent complete and is due to be completed in October and the movie due for release locally on December 15.


Lifespan is a Nigeria's first 3D animated feature film, from Nigeria. It is Low budget considering the fact that its budget stands at N293, 625, 727 whereas, other animated movies that have made headlines and remarkable proceeds at the box office had budgets as high as $75million (approximately N13, 500,000,000 (thirteen billion, five hundred million naira). The Movie has been in production since late 2005," the movie director, Stanlee Ohikhuare said.

The movie was written by Ohikhuare, who is also the director. He has solely funded the project for the last three years; including a formal launch at the prestigious Planet One Entertainment in Lagos, Nigeria. Stanlee stands for the resilience that is deep-seated within every Nigerian. This has led to an insatiable thirst for excellence and the belief that nothing is "impossible".

According to him, "Lifespan is not an attempt to become a local champion, neither is it a project for local consumption alone, "rather a project that will put us in the spotlight for global scrutiny and criticism, to enable us get better and eventually bridge the gap between us and big time production firms like Pixar and DreamWorks.

"If Lifespan is not screened worldwide, or if after its release, attention is not immediately drawn to the millions of undiscovered talents in Nigeria, then we have failed.

So hopefully, the film will live up the expectations raised here and the international animation and film industry will take note beyond the circle of ‘your usual suspects’ (i.e. Africa or Third World Cinema aficionados)!!! It’s certainly not gone completely unnoticed as is evidenced by this blog entry at The Creator’s Blog. Meanwhile check out YouTube for the official trailer, impressions of the production process and more.

And once you’re on YouTube check out the machine for more Nigerian animation (or Nollymation as I’ve read somewhere), you’ll probably find one or the other gem … and there are more of them per day! There is Mark of Uru, which is pretty well done (a bit like Kirikou) and some clips by IC Studios. Check out this one. Not sure what it reminds me of in terms of aesthetics (Disney’s Altantis?) but, by contrast, to my to untrained eye, the animation of Prominent Cease looks more like a computer game. Check out an example here. Personally, I enjoy the caricature aesthetics of clip like this one … and then there are many many animated music videos like this one .

Oh, and on private note: I’ve finished my chapter!!! Three weeks late but … its finished. For now. Until my supervisor reads and sends me back to the library or Nigeria (I’d prefer the later, lol) … But for the moment: yeah, yeah, yeah!!!


  1. Just saw this published online on Nigerian Village Square:

  2. Paula just contributed that useful link:


Post a Comment

Popular posts from this blog

'Portraits' of Sheikh Usman dan Fodio

First Impressions: Contemporary Photography in Nigeria

Popular Portraits of Sheikh Ahmad Tijani - Another Little (Procrastination) Gem