Monday, October 21, 2019

Nollywood Animation - Malika: Warrior Queen

Today I came across this thrilling Nollywood animation tiled Malika: Warrior Queen.  It rings special for me because way back in the days when I was writing my thesis on Jamaican film I was then asking questions about the production of animated features that were informed by traditional African cultural themes that informed our childhood, and in particular my African-Jamaican childhood.  So to come across a production such as this that anchors itself in African mythology is particularly thrilling.

I have in the past written about Jamaica themed comics as in the Dread and Alive series which was inspired by the Jamaica Maroons, and where the writer takes the creative license to mix in some fact with fiction to create a uniquely Jamaican superhero, but still the space remains open in Africa and the diaspora for more creators to come forward and fill us with some unique experiences that we have probably contemplated in folk culture, but never really made it beyond that. 

Well, some of us may be in for a visual treat we always believed exists, but that we had not yet seen.  As this Quartz Africa story titled, Nollywood is one step closer to its first major animated cinema production tells us from an interview with Roye Okupe, a comics publisher and founder of YouNeek Studios,
After years of publishing Malika: Warrior Queen as a graphic novel with its central character inspired by Queen Amina, a 16th century queen who ruled in parts of Nigeria’s northwest, Okupe has stepped things up with an animated 15-minute short film which he expects to be the precursor to a full length feature."  
Have a look at the thrilling short film below:

I think the imagery is beautiful and very empowering for us as Africans who want to celebrate our culture. As the article tells us the short will be making the rounds at various film festivals and also shown to those who may be interested in producing a full length feature film.  As Roye says, “There’s no reason why our children [and adults] shouldn’t be able to turn on their TVs and see characters like this rooted in Africa.” I agree and I certainly wish this production well.

You may check out the company's website at YouNeek Studios where you can get some free comics or follow them on Facebook using this link.  Please feel free to share and also ask your kids what they think about this.

Jamaica's Intellectual Property Challenge

On Friday October 18, 2019 Jamaica's Emancipation Park played home to a free Christian concert named Sunday Service hosted by Kanye West, which was the first of the international leg of his proselytising series, and with its own hashtag #SundayServiceJA. 

Photo courtesy of Garfield Robinson, Jamaica Observer

The concert was not without controversy, as Kanye is known to attract, and as this Jamaica Gleaner article about "Upstaging Heroes Weekend" outlines, but the issue that elicited my response was the issue surrounding Kanye’s use of Jamaican intellectual property, specifically official national symbols and emblems, to produce and sell merchandise off and online for the event. 

Image courtesy of

The most recent controversy caused me to go back into my blogs for a post made on September 26, 2010 titled, Licensing Brand Jamaica, that suggested how Jamaica could handle these matters, that I anticipated back then. The controversial merchandise could have been licensed and the government would have been collecting some kind of revenue in theory.  Unfortunately however, seemingly nothing was ever put in place to handle scenarios where persons or entities could be marketed the idea of obtaining licenses to use certain Jamaican symbols or iconography for commercial purposes.

Image courtesy of

Below is a paragraph from that 2010 post that contemplated an approach to handling these matters for Jamaica: 
I have often wondered if the government, perhaps through the Jamaica Intellectual Property Office, has examined licensing Jamaican properties in a similar fashion to how the city of New York has established NYC & Company Licensing to handle the business of licensing the City’s intellectual property. As a result, all official merchandise from the New York City police, taxi, fire department, parks and recreation, and the transport department benefit the city. We know that there is merchandise sold with the Ocho Rios, Montego Bay, Negril and Kingston city/town names and replicas of other property. Then there is Jamaica Tourist Board’s signature 'JAMAICA' trademark and related property that serve tourism... I wonder to what extent local business, and by extension the state, could benefit from greater sales of products around these properties? This is certainly a business opportunity.

Since the outcry on social media for clearly what was an oversight (or more accurately a matter that was not even contemplated in the least) by the relevant authorities, the minister of culture was forced to act as the Jamaica Observer newspaper reports in this story, Pull the merch, Kanye, "government requests that West removes items with national symbols from online store." Of course, nobody really wins here, when the outcome could have been very different.

This is a sad outcome, because if there was a sales trend it is likely broken for the moment. In fact, a visit to the website ( today asks that I sign up for further updates. The newspaper goes further to say that the minister will "re-establish a committee to devise a strategy to deal with the proper use of our emblems and symbols, as she is aware that other vendors are selling Jamaica-branded products."  I wonder just how this will be tackled because not all Jamaica-branded products can be claimed to belong to the state, so in one sense all this may become an academic exercise bearing very little fruit.

The good thing is that licensing opportunities in which the government or its entities can participate still abound for some Jamaican merchandise, but as with everything, having the right partners, execution and knowing what you're doing makes all the difference.  

The minister has my best wishes, and I certainly hope they are able to create something meaningful that will redound to the benefit of the good Jamaican people. 

Zouzoukwa African Emojis For You

I came across a story today that I think is really cool and I want to make the quick share.  There are so many positives that are happening for African entertainment and cultural enterprises and sometimes it is hard to keep up, but I think this one is worth the pause to acknowledge how good it is.

The story is about Zouzuokwa, an African emoji app that contains more than 350 downloadable emojis with West African cultural references, that also resonate in the African diaspora. This was created by the 21-year old O’Plerou Felix Grebet (linked to his Instagram) from Côte d'Ivoire.

Here's a short BBC video interview of the creator... 

Having grown up in Jamaica the icon of the app is immediately recognizable as what we call 'suck suck', a lovable childhood treat. It is basically any flavored drink, bagged and frozen, and when ready for consumption you suck the contents from one end of the bag.

Needless to say I've downloaded that app and looked through the emojis and I love them. My contacts can expect that I'll be using them.

You can download the app by clicking the link for your respective store, the Apple store or the Google Play store.  Get it and share it with your family and friends.  This is indeed a moment that's better with family and friends.