Iwájú’: Step into the Future of Lagos in Disney’s Groundbreaking African Animation

Iwájú': Step into the Future of Lagos in Disney's Groundbreaking
BEST FRIENDS -- In a first-of-its-kind collaboration, Walt Disney Animation Studios teams up with Pan-African entertainment company Kugali for “Iwájú”—an original animated series set in a futuristic Lagos, Nigeria. This exciting coming-of-age story follows Tola (voice of Simisola Gbadamosi) and her best friend Kole (voice of Siji Soetan). Kugali filmmakers Olufikayo Ziki Adeola, Hamid Ibrahim and Toluwalakin Olowofoyeku take viewers on a unique journey into the world of “Iwájú,” bursting with unique visual elements and technological advancements inspired by the spirit of Lagos. Produced by Disney Animation’s Christina Chen, and written by Adeola and Halima Hudson, “Iwájú” streams exclusively on Disney+ Feb. 28, 2024, in a six-episode event. © 2024 Disney. All Rights Reserved.

Iwájú’: Step into the Future of Lagos in Disney’s Groundbreaking African Animation

Hamid Ibrahim, co-founder of African entertainment company Kugali, found himself in an unexpected collaboration with Disney after boldly stating in an interview that his business would “kick Disney’s ass.” The resulting partnership led to “Iwájú,” a groundbreaking show set in a futuristic Nigeria addressing themes such as pay disparity.

Despite being a “love story to Lagos,” the series doesn’t shy away from portraying the city’s harsh realities. Director Ziki Nelson emphasizes the importance of reflecting on the challenging aspects of modern-day Lagos in the narrative. The clash of cultures between the African creators and the American company posed challenges during the storytelling process. Still, Nelson sees it as a reflection of the strengths both Disney and Kigali brought to the project.

Joining the “Iwájú” team is visual effects supervisor Marlon West, renowned for his work on Disney classics like “The Lion King,” “Frozen,” and “Moana.” West was drawn to the project’s unique elements, including its science fiction aspects set in Africa, crime story, and incorporation of Afrobeat music. The series represents Disney’s first foray into telling an African story, marking a significant moment in the entertainment industry.

Cultural consultant Toluwalakin Olowofoyeku, part of the “Iwájú” team, emphasizes the impact of diverse storytelling on children. With no specific agenda, Olowofoyeku highlights the importance of exposing young audiences to different cultures and perspectives. Drawing from personal experiences of growing up watching anime and American cartoons, Olowofoyeku believes in the power of storytelling to broaden children’s horizons.

“Iwájú” is set to premiere on Disney+ on February 28, 2024, marking a milestone as Disney ventures into showcasing diverse narratives and collaborating with an African studio. The series aims to captivate audiences with its imaginative storytelling, unique setting, and the fusion of African and American creative influences.


Related Posts

Illuminating the Promise of Africa.

Receive captivating stories direct to your inbox that reveal the cultures, innovations, and changemakers shaping the continent.