The popular video streaming giant, Netflix, has announced its first Original African animated series titled Mama K’s Team 4. This follows its concerted effort to increase its acquisition of content from Africa as it expands its reach on the African continent amid stiff competition from other streaming services.
Offering a new and fresh perspective to the classic cartoon genre, this new animated series tells a story of four teenage girls living in a futuristic version of Zambia recruited by an ex-secret agent to save the world. The animated series has been produced by award-winning South African based studio, Triggerfish Animation and CAKE, a London-based kids and family entertainment company.
The animation series has been created by Malenga Mulendema – a Zambian writer. In 2015, Malenga was among eight winners of the Triggerfish Story Lab, a pan-African talent search backed by the Cape Town-based animation studio and The Walt Disney Company. Designed by Cameroonian artist Malcolm Wope, Mama K’s Team 4 draws visual inspiration from the retro-R&B and hip-hop girl groups of the ’90s.
“In addition to giving African writers a global platform on which to be heard, we are excited to present this powerful and entertaining new animated series that brings Malenga’s incredible and unique vision to life on Netflix. Mama K’s Team 4 has the potential to give a whole new generation of African children the opportunity to see themselves on screen in the powerful, aspirational characters they look up to,” says Melissa Cobb – Netflix Vice President of Original Animation.
Netflix, in collaboration with Triggerfish and CAKE, have launched a continent-wide search for local female writing talent to join the creative team on the series giving African women writers a unique global opportunity. Interested writers can find out more about the Writers Lab and how to apply via here
Commenting on what inspired her to develop the animation series, Malenga says, “I grew up watching cartoons on TV and found myself asking why no heroes looked like me and why they didn’t live in a world that felt like my own. In creating a superhero show set in Lusaka, I hope to introduce the world to four strong African girls who save the day in their own fun and crazy way. Most importantly, I want to illustrate that anyone from anywhere can be a superhero. Now, like never before, it is so important to have strong female lead characters who are emotionally connected to their world and who can choose to change their world. So to me, selecting an all-female writing team was a natural fit, because who better to create and connect to those characters than females themselves.”
The commissioning of this animation series comes after the recent appointment of the award-winning Kenyan film producer, Ms Dorothy Ghettuba as the Manager for International Originals by Netflix. This clearly demonstrates the streaming giant’s intention of acquiring more content from the African continent.
It is an exciting time for African filmmakers as the continent is now witnessing increased interest in African content by global production and streaming companies such as Amazon, Netflix, HBO, Universal Pictures, Fox and Warner Bros who have commissioned projects on African stories.