Thisstudy bases on the challenges that Zimbabwean animation companies face atinstitutional levels as well as at audience reception. The literature willfocuses on animation as a genre in film, which gives a global picture of theindustry starting with the history of animation in Africa. South Africa presentsa comparative of a regional animation industry to show the gaps that theZimbabwean animation industry needs to address at a local level.
The research willillustrate how South African productions have fared in the market and how theindustry has developed. Furthermore, an account of the cultural value ofanimation within a given context shall be highlighted in an attempt tounderscore the importance of developing a lucrative animation industry inZimbabwe. 1.1 History of Animation in Africa Animation in Africa hasdeveloped due to the technological advancements. According to some studies,animation in Africa began in Egypt. Ghazala(2008) argues that the pioneers ofanimation in Africa were not professional artists or animators; they a group ofJewish carpenters who immigrated to Egypt from Russia in search of freedom andwork.
He adds that: They achieved the unexpected; the firstAfrican animated cartoon was created. Despite problems with equipment andfinancing, they managed to create the first animated film throughout Africa.The duration of this film “In Vain” (“Mafish fayda”) is just 10 minutes. Itsmain hero was Mish Mish Effendi, who was the prototype of the well-known MickeyMouse. (Ghazala, 2008) Thus animation in Africa is nota new occurrence, however it has faced many challenges due to lack of equipmentand financing. Ghazala (2008) states that there were many endeavourspractically in every country throughout the African continent, but they were justindividual attempts, not in groups or association. The lack of associations isanother problem the researcher of this study identified within the Zimbabweancontext. There are a high number of free-lance animators and a few key playersin terms of animation companies.
Furthermore, animation inZimbabwe has had a gradual growth due to the lack of digitalisation. This hashad a negative impact on the animation in Zimbabwe, as this is a field, whichis technology intensive. Ghazala alsoargues that: African animation is not yet aconsistent industry within the continent and this is due to our economicalsituation making it difficult to produce films on a mass scale. Animationdiffers from other forms of art in that it cannot be produced individually; instead,it requires assistants, finance, equipment and much more.
The population ofEthiopia is 80 million people but there are just 3 animators. There are noorders for work, no equipment, no new projects. Glints of hope come fromEuropean countries and their cultural centres providing financial support toanimators and their projects.
Africa then needs to be equippeddigitally to undertake animation at a large scale. Thus, Zimbabwe’s animationindustry is wanting of these advancements and must seek to introduce policiesthat may assist in the growth of the industry in reaching global standards. Theanimation industry in Africa is in need of revision for it to develop. Ghazalaargues that: Although Africa has a long history of developing its animation, it stillhas not reached the level of animation as those countries that started evenafter it. We have a very small number of academies teaching animation and it isvery hard to get all necessary professional equipments, software and thetrainers which would help us to educate generations of animators with their owntradition of animation, or individual African style of animation without beingfully influenced by current Western and Japanese styles. This shows that African productions cannot belimited and underpinned within a homogeneous framework, as they are constructsmanufactured in various contexts.
Animation can be generally treated and viewedas a cultural industry that seeks to cover the gaps caused by the consumptionof Western and Japanese styles of animation. This study will therefore unveilthe production processes the animators in Zimbabwe undertake particularly Nafuna TV and the BYO Show in their content creation and the effect it has onaudiences at the reception levels. 1.3 The importance of Animation insociety Animationis an industry that is fast growing within the developed countries. This studyseeks to highlight the benefits of an intensive movement into the animationindustry in Zimbabwe.
It will also seek to open up a theoretical approach topolicymaking processes regarding animation with the analysis of the two casestudies Nafuna TV and the BYO Show. Wells argues that: animation is arguably the most importantcreative form of the twenty-first century… It is the omnipresent pictorial form of the modern era” (1).Despite animation’s prominent status in everyday life, from televisioncommercials to the recent spate of popular feature length animation films tovarious uses on the Web, the form itself has suffered a long history ofsystematic neglect — both critically and academically. Thisis evidence that animation is an industry that needs reviewing within theglobal, regional and local spectrums of broadcasting. A successful animatedcharacter has diverse applications, “a personality that can be easilytransferred to dolls and play set environments” (Wasko et al.
, 1993: 285). Assuch, the two case studies shall undergo speculation in an attempt toillustrate their success during production, marketing and dissemination processes. Creating such an exclusive characteranimation property is a talent that is a blend of art and business (Neuwirth,2003; Raugust, 2004). This becomes afoothold for the research, as the success of animated products amongstconsumers or audiences will reveal the power of animation within the context ofcreating, maintaining and establishing animation related cultural industries.
1.4 Animation as a culturalindustry Incultural perspectives, meaning, are arguably generated through a consensus and understandingof various signs and symbols. Wells, in his book Understanding Animation, arguesthat: an animated film may be interpreted throughits symbolism, whether the symbols have been used deliberately to facilitatemeaning or not … the symbol in animation can operate in its purest form,divorced from any relationship to the representation of the real world, findingit proper purchase in the realms of its primal source ( 83). Thedynamics involved in the creation and reception of animation, could depend onthe representation of characters that will connote meanings out of thedifferent individuals involved in production and consumption stages. Jardim, (2013) states that, drawn art as wellas digitally rendered representations, usually illustrate, either a real life item,person, animal or similar. According to the above notion, Jardim captures therole of animation as centred on the cultural values within a given society thatenable individuals to deduce meanings from the various digital texts produced.
This study will then seek to draw up an analysis of how different audiencesconsume content from Nafuna TV andthe BYO Show and what meanings theydeduce from these media texts. Animationis universal in nature, it has penetrated and influenced visual cultures, whileinhabiting, informing and politicising various public and private spheres. Ithas long had a constitutive role in disseminating ideologies with a mind toshaping public attitudes. Moreover,animation studios compete to be creative, producing new characters and newstory ideas that can form the foundation of a franchise of products acrossmedia platforms and consumer products (Raugust,2004; Screen Digest, 2007). Technology using computersand ICT networks has become commonplace not only in production but also inconsumption. Consumers participate in the new forms of production in thenetworks (Benkler, 2006; Flowers et al., 2008).
This means that one has to takeinto account the challenges presented by the advent of globalisation and itseffect on the Zimbabwean animation, market share. As such, the two case studiesshall provide a basis for the relevance of the gap caused, as a consequence ofthe challenges they face at production, marketing and distribution stages. However,Melo, (2006) argues that: CulturalAnimation is a pedagogical tool that can be used in different contexts andsocial venues with the clear purpose of intervention.
It is established fromthe desire to change reality and from understanding that an intervention withinthis perspective can be an important tool to achieve this goal. Its strategy ofaction is based on the idea of mediation, seeking to build a society that isfairer, more egalitarian and democratic, where people learn to respect andmediate their differences, acknowledging and exploring their creative possibilitiesand taking an active and critical stand in society Hence, animation has the capacity to befunction as an edutainment tool and this influences cultural industries withina society. He further states: Inorder to satisfy any need for a clearer and more direct definition, I definedCultural Animation as an educational technology (an intervention pedagogicalproposal) based on a radical mindset of mediation (that should never meanimposition), which aims at fostering the comprehensive understanding ofcultural meanings (taking into account the tensions in place within thismilieu), conceding to the concretion of our everyday life, built from theprinciple stimulus for community organizations (that presupposes the idea ofstrong individuals to ensure the actual construction of democracy), always aimingat questioning the social status quo and helping to overcome it in order tobuild a fairer society (MELO, 2006, p. 28-29). Theabove quote highlights the dynamic processes that animation possesses.
It hasthe ability to inform citizens on various discourses that might ail a societyand need remedy while sometimes being used as an apparatus that seeks totransforms normative practices. The case studies of this research willhighlight and benchmark the edutainment value of their products.