Rwanda: Animation Nation seeking distribution channels


For years, Rwandan children have watched foreign cartoons and television programming. Foreign characters speaking foreign languages in foreign places dealing with foreign situations. While many of these imported programs are indeed quality shows, they lack Rwandan characters and Rwandan content.
That is, until now.

One young entrepreneur is creating the very first all Rwandan-made, Kinyarwanda-speaking cartoon series, to be aired on TV10 later this year. The winner of the reality TV show 'Zamuka', Sam Zizinga received a small sum of start-up money to put his cartooning idea into motion.

Based out of The Office, a coworking space in Kiyovu, Zizinga is working on his first series, "The Adventures Of Jorije". He wants his cartoons to be both entertaining and educational, reflecting Rwandan values.

Using well-known stories for inspiration, Zizinga's show will bring to life the country's oral tradition. "First I want to bring to life what all Rwandans know," says Zizinga. "I'll be showing the places where kids can find themselves, like Kigali... not the Eiffel Tower."

Zizinga himself grew up watching imported cartoons like Tom and Jerry and Tintin. As a student at Kigali Institute of Science and Technology in the Creative Design department, Zizinga was surprised to learn that the technology needed to create cartoons existed in Rwanda. After graduating and finding opportunities on the job market scarce, he decided to start a business of his own to fill the gap in children's television programming.

Using software called 'Toon Boom', Zizinga creates 3D colorful characters. In addition to "Advenures of Jorije", he is hoping to also create animated TV commercials to support his business.

Zizinga isn't the only one who saw the need for locally relevant children's programming. African Digital Media Academy (ADMA), a vocational skills training program funded by the Workforce Development Authority, is currently working on an animation project for a show called 'Know Zone' in partnership with the organization Media E.

Media E, a non-profit organization working in Kenya that uses entertaining and educational media programs to improve the livelihoods of viewers, debuted 'Know Zone' in Kenya to much success. Now, they are looking to create a Rwandan version to be aired by Rwanda Broadcasting Agency.

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