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African Animation 'Twende' Gets A Trailer

African animation is having a bit of a moment. Animation produced across the content is having an international impact with series such as Kiff,  Kizazi Moto: Generation Fire and Supa Team 4. And that's without even including all the international co-productions.

A first trailer has been released for Twende, the first 2D original animated series for African broadcaster Showmax.

Twende follows a pangolin of the same name (the slowest animal on the savannah). "Twende’s belief that, ‘life is about the journey, not the destination’ is constantly at odds with his job as a boda boda driver in the bustling, fictional East African city of Milima,” said showrunner Greig Cameron, writer and director of Netflix feature Seal Team.

Twende's pilot screened in competition at the Annecy International Film Festival in 2021 as well as at the Capetown Animation Festival. MultiChoice Studios is handling international sales and will present Twende at MIPCom, the world’s greatest gathering of TV and entertainment executives, from 16-19 October 2023. 

Twende is voiced by Junior Nyong'o (The Legend of Lwanda Magere, Hamlet), while June Gachui (Crime and Justice, Nairobi Half Life) voices Nuru, his unlikely best friend and navigator. She's always got his back, even if the laid-back pace he lives his life by does drive her crazy.

Kalasha Awards nominee Elsaphan Njora (Super Sema, Kati Kati) voices Boss, the long-suffering and perenially broke hyena who owns the boda boda agency Twende and Nuru work for.

The cast is all-Kenyan and also includes: Charles Ouda (Crime and Justice) as showy stunt driver Kimbe and Mkamzee Mwatela (Mali) as Boss’s rival, Madam Mongoose, CEO of the evil tech empire Goober. Also featuring is Kalasha Awards winner Nyokabi Macharia (Super Sema), Joyce Musoke (Second Family) and seasoned voice actor and director Khaemba W. Edward (Ogas at the Top, The XYZ Show). 

In reality pangolins are endangered and are one of the most illegally trafficked animals in the world. The producers hope that although poaching is not dealt with directly in the series, that it will draw attention to their plight. “It’s such a shame that this is happening to this amazing and unique animal,” says Kenyan executive producer Kwame Nyong'o. "“Twende is a super silly show, but we hope that, between all the humour and all the hijinks, our audience will fall in love with pangolins as much as we have and do their part to help protect them.”

Twende is produced by London-based Braintrust and Johannesburg-based Mind’s Eye Creative, South Africa's leading animation studio. The studio has been quietly producing animation for clients including Cartoon Network, Disney, Nickelodeon and Netflix for over a decade, and their work has been recognised with Emmy nominations and iEmmy wins.

Twende's co-creators include South Africans Mike Scott, Triggerfish Story Lab Winner and Kayla Archer (DISCOP Animation Du Monde pitch finalist Hiraeth). The all-star line-up of writers include Zambian Malenga Mulendema who created Supa Team, Netflix's first African animated series and Disney Anthology Kizazi Moto: Generation Fire, Kenyan J. Njogu Macharia, winner of ScreenCraft Animation Competition 2021 and head-writer South African Sheldon Bengtson.

Twende will also feature original music by from legendary Kenyan producer and Kalasha winner Eric Musyoka (Rafiki), with a score by top South African music studios The Music Works, Phonographic and Pressure Cooker Studios.

Twende will air from 4 December on Showmax across Africa. Let's hope the rest of the world gets to see it too