As Africa slowly enters the global comics and animation conversation, it adds another major win in Iwájú, an animation series produced by Kugali Media in partnership with Disney.

Kugali Media’s Iwájú is one of the projects the Walt Disney Company announced on its Investor Day in 2020. Yup, you probably didn’t know about that. But there’s more to know about this coming animated series.

What’s Kugali?

The company started as Tao of Otaku, in 2015 as a podcast. Two years later, it morphed into Kugali (Swahili for “to care”), a website and YouTube channel with arts, gaming, comics and animation content. In 2018, the co-founders Hamid Ibrahim, Tolu Olowofoyeku and Olufikayo “Ziki Nelson” Adeola narrowed its focus to producing African comics and animations. Kugali has since produced original comics like Iku, Oro and Mumu Juju and the latest Iwájú, an animated TV series co-produced by Disney Animation.

Facebook: Kugali

Kugali and Disney’s fateful meeting

All it took for Disney to notice what Kugali’ got was a brazen statement by Kugali’s co-founder Hamid Ibrahim (VFX artist on The Lion King) in a 2019 BBC interview. He said, “We’ll beat Disney’s ass.” Interestingly, Disney reached out to work with Kugali for Disney Plus. This relationship birthed the project initially set for release in 2022. But it took additional two years to come out due to release schedule changes.

What’s Iwájú about?

Iwájú is a Yorùbá word for front or forward. It’s an animated story about class and inequality. It focuses on two friends living in futuristic Lagos; Tola, a rich island babe, and poor, self-taught tech-guy Kole who lives in another part of Lagos (seems like the mainland) and their investigation into the dark sides of their two worlds.

Source: MovieWeb


Iwájú is produced by Christian Chen of Disney Animation and written by Halima Hudson and Tolu Olowofoyeku. Nigerian composer Ré Olunga handled the film score. Kugali’s co-founders Ziki Nelson, Hamid Ibrahim and Tolu Olowofoyeku are also the film’s director, production designer and cultural consultant respectively.

Source: MovieWeb

Voices of Iwájú

Iwájú is voiced by Simisola Gbadamosi, Sinister Soetan, Femi Branch, Dayo Okeniyi (The Hunger Games and Emperor) and Weruche Opia (I May Destroy You, High Desert and Sliced). The cast was assembled by Nigerian actress Kemi “Lala” Akindoju.

L-R; Femi Branch, Weruche Opia and Dayo Okeniyi

Release date

Iwájú will debut in the U.S. on February 28, 2024 on Disney Plus. The release date for Nigeria and other select regions will be announced later. African and Nigerian stories finding a home on the global screen will always be a delight.

Source: MovieWeb

Iwájú: A Day Ahead

Iwájú: A Day Ahead is a special documentary about the series development and production process, and it’ll also come out the same day the series debuts. It’s produced by Walt Disney Animation and ABC News Studios.

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