Back in Africa


After the Orlando Summit, Neil Mckee moved onto Africa from South Asia where he began another animation series called Sara. As a follow-on from the success of Meena here was another example of UNICEF using its own funds to produce animation and be able to show through research its value as a pan African project. But also in the same way that Cartoons for Children Rights had a global appeal and value, both the Sara and the Meena series had added value in showing children in western society what children’s lives were like in Africa and Asia. These were not dire documentaries pleading for money, they showed vibrant lively children enjoying life, but dealing with their own problems. What UNICEF is doing in developing countries is perhaps best explained to children elsewhere in a visual media they have become used to.

Clearly both approaches to Animation for Development worked. Firstly the use of development funds to commission animation, wherever the funds are justified and research shows that animation will make a positive difference; and secondly the enlistment of animation studios and others who are in the mainstream animation business to take on more responsibility to communicate development issues.

(When people think that using UNICEF money on an animated cartoon is somehow taking food away from a starving babies mouth… they are just as wrong as those who believe investing in a cartoon is less valuable than spending hundreds of thousands of dollars on per-diems and documents for another meeting.)

As we come to terms with population growth in some of the poorest countries… it may be helpful to search through the UN population figures to see where this growth will actually take place. We now know the end game is on for human growth, we know where it will take place and we should all begin to see these places as the world’s nursery. There will definitely be enough old people to look after this new generation if we can highlight these locations for the nursery and make sure this new generation is given the best chance it can have.

The animation efforts described in this site have continued to grow and expand well beyond UNICEF. The training of young animators from countries that do not have this skill locally is now carried on in hundreds of art colleges and institutions most notable in Virborg Denmark (The Animation Workshop) Also the type of animation which tries to explain things from complicated ideas to simple science is increasingly shown on You tube and being commissioned and supported by organizations like Ted-ed Animation. Firdaus Kharas continues to expand and develope these ideas in Canada.

George McBean 2012