Powerful, Global, Black African Children's Media Brands Are Long Overdue And Need To Be Built Over The Coming Decades August 11, 2016 14:52
I want to discuss why it is important for the world to have powerful global Black African children’s brands and networks. I mean networks that have the same or greater social cultural impact as Disney, Mattel, Nickelodeon, Sesame Street, Cartoon Network and alike around the world. OK, Yes I do have a bias in this matter since my company produces an educational children’s cartoon that teaches children about the continent of Africa. So let’s get that out of the way first.
Media is very powerful. Children’s media is even more so because children are like sponges and what they learn in the formative years shapes their adult lives. After the age of 2, studies have shown that exposing children to the right type of media content actually helps to enhance academic achievement.
It is important for children (and adults actually) to have access to media that reflects their image, cultural and social values. Currently much of what children watch, read and play in Africa is foreign. There is currently a severe lack of children’s media that portrays Africa in a positive, educational, non-condescending way. With Africa being such a young continent, children’s media can be used as a very powerful tool to instil confidence of self, love for learning, love for one’s culture, social orientation and much more. When it comes to children’s cartoons it’s closer to 99%. This has to change because it creates dangerous cultural foundations. This state of affairs would be unacceptable in many other parts in the world for good reason. It is better to have a healthier mix of local and foreign content. More like 60% to 40% at least.
For children of the Black Diaspora from African Americans all the way to Afro Brazilians, seeing powerful global Black African will be beneficial in many ways. Especially with what is going on in today’s political climate around the world. It will help to connect them to their ancestry. The Diaspora is wide and connected with many commonalities. From the Caribbean, Latin America through to Europe, they will get to see their history and culture is rich deep and beautiful.
For children who are not part of the wider African Diaspora it is also important to get a balanced view of the continent. Currently the information they are getting from the media they consume about Africa shows a negative or at best an inferior view. Africa is shown as a place that needs saving, a continent that isn’t modern and is one big safari. This has been going on for generations and has played a part in reinforcing negative stereotypes as they grow up.
Economically it will be a good thing because local industries whether it be in toy making through to animation production will develop and benefit. As the market consumes their goods, companies will be able to hire , train and support an ecosystem of supporting industries.
These are just some of the reasons I feel it is crucial powerful African voices are established in the world of children’s media. The benefits for all would be many and far reaching.
The wonderful thing is that there many people putting in the effort to make this a reality. These range from authors of children’s books, toy makers game developers through to animation studios like ours.
A lot of work still needs to be done on many levels within the public and private sector. The responsibility has to be shouldered by us here if the different countries in Africa. We have the capacity to do it, we just need to connect the dots and put in the work. I think the future is bright and it’s only a matter of time before the emergence of powerful Black African global children’s brands.
Here are just a few brands and companies to watch doing exciting things.
Queens of Africa Dolls
Aurion Legacy of the Kori – Odan
Abeba & Abebe