You’re walking down the street when you hear something loud from behind you with such force that your hairs briefly rise in alarm. Instinct kicks in and you step to the side then look behind you. You kiss your teeth, smirk and amusingly scold yourself for the silly scare. In fact, you look on nostalgically as a bunch of kids zoom past you in what looks like a wheelbarrow race but really is just them pushing old car tires with sticks in them, sometimes with water for lubrication.
The unburdened excitement plastered on their faces stirs something within you. Ah, childhood memories. Then you wonder, what if? What if the rest of the world knew nothing of your childhood games, how do you share? Then it hits you: animation!
Thoughts like these must have besieged the hearts of the folks at Association Burkinabé du Cinéma d’Animation (ABCA) who put out a pilot episode for an animated series titled Afrogames. Afrogames is an animated series that tells tales of African society through the eyes of five unusual children and their undying passion for African games in a fictional futuristic world called Afritenga.
The pilot episode manages to weave an interesting tale about friendship, destiny, responsibility and teamwork through a go-kart race, water balancing donkey race, and a weird Burkinabe game that is a blend of baseball, volleyball and shoe counting.
It felt like there was so much the creators wanted to do but couldn’t due to time constraints or some other factor. They did manage to show the possibility of the merger of a traditional and very modern Africa, a fusion of technology and culture. Given more time, resources and an exploration of other African childhood games and cultures, Afrogames could easily become one of the best animated series around.
While an Indiegogo campaign for a second episode failed, that such an initiative was carried out is inspiring. The second episode would have touched on female circumcision by evoking one of the character’s experience in an attempt to reason with society’s sensibilities to stop the act. Projects like these are important in an era where Africans tire of the overused tropes that blindly focus on negatives such as conflict and poverty.
There’s no denying the many issues we face, but the same is true for the wondrous joys we create (or at least once had). Subverting such tropes go a long way to show the diversity of the continent and makes for an interesting narrative.
We’re uncertain about the fate of the series but we do hope that it resumes. The failure of the campaign is possibly a result of limited publicity and local support. If true, it proves that African creatives still need support, be it monetary, showing interest, motivation or just word of mouth to really fly off the ground to owning our narratives.
By Kadi Yao Tay