AfroAnimation Summit 3.0 🎥

AfroAnimation Summit 3.0 🎥

 By Chiderah Monde

Afro Animation Summit 3.0 Industry Badge

As Producer of Kunda & Friends, I had the great pleasure of attending Afro Animation Summit 3.0, an annual gathering in Burbank, California that aims to increase representation in the global animation industry. 

Over the course of two days I met and networked with representatives from Sony Pictures Animation, Netflix, Nickelodeon, WildBrain Studios, Triggerfish, and more -  all here with the goal of meeting diverse talent and furthering storytelling in animation from underrepresented groups. 

Speakers at Afro Animation included industry greats, such as Peter Ramsey, the Oscar-winning director of “Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse” (2018), and executive producer of Disney’s “Kizazi Moto: Generation Fire” (2023) African anthology. In one of the highlights of the panel discussions, Ramsey spoke at length about the importance of conveying truth in animation in order to allow audiences to participate in the lives of characters. To me, this resonated deeply with the mission behind Kunda & Friends, and our commitment to telling the truth about the lives and experiences of African children. 

Kunda & Friends imagines an optimistic (but unspecific) Afrofuturistic world, but as we articulate it visually, we are mindful of the responsibility to engage with the real Africa. With unifying themes like friendship, confidence, community and empathy to accompany the song, dance and adventures in each episode, Kunda & Friends reflects the true lives and cares of real African children. When we watch Kunda interacting with his family and friends, we see a reflection of how African children live and enjoy their closest relationships, and how their worlds are colored by joyful experiences, laughter and love. 



Currently, only 10% of characters in children's media come from underrepresented racial and ethnic groups, and a mere 2.9% of speaking characters in TV and Film are Black. The percentage of African speaking characters is even less. In animation, representation of the continent typically focuses on nature or animals, and the spiritual world more than the real world. Africa is still seen as a country rather than a diverse continent of 54 countries, with over 3,000 ethnic groups and over 2,000 languages. We know that exposure to diverse representations of different cultures can promote empathy, understanding, and acceptance, yet children’s content - and especially animation - still suffers from a lack of true African representation. 

Afro Animation Summit, and conferences like this, are needed for the work of change. By attending this annual gathering of industry leaders in animation, we affirm the belief that African storytelling has a seat at the table. I was inspired to see so much emphasis on the continent as a frontier for animation, and notable African studios in attendance or even sponsoring - including Kolanut Productions and Kenya’s Fye Network. There were creators and artists in attendance from Nigeria, Kenya, Gambia, Uganda, Zimbabwe, Egypt, South Africa, and beyond - in the room, making connections, and telling their authentic stories. 

Afro Animation Summit 3.0 was a memorable and energizing experience, and I look forward to our return next year to celebrate progress with fellow change-makers. 

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