Menu

My Two Year Old Daughter Falls in Love with an Unknown Indian Man

It’s surprising how we sometimes find inspiration in the most unusual places. For me, it is 12,000Km away from home, usually in the middle of the night. I often tinker away on my keyboard with my little girl beside me keeping an unusual late night with me. She would occasionally laugh out hysterically to some random YouTube videos.
“‘Nifemi, what’s that that’s so funny?”, I’d asked my 18months old little girl.
As she couldn’t speak clearly yet, she merely pointed to the iPad screen and managed to utter a gibberish word “thizz…” I went over to her, sat beside her as we continued watching the Indian animation film together. This we repeated several times.

Soon, I would hear my daughter saying some words or singing some familiar songs but I wouldn’t be able to connect the dots. So I’d just waive the thoughts aside and assume she’s speaking “baby language”. Six months later, ‘Nifemi could recite and recognize her letters and alphabets but strangely enough she would pronounce some of those letters with a weird but familiar Indian accent!

Then it dawned on me that my two-year old daughter, – a Nigerian girl – has been spending time with an unknown Indian man so much so that she’s now talking like him, singing his songs and learning his culture much more than she’s learnt from our rich African culture.

While I was excited about the prospect of my daughter being independent and having strong desire to learn at a very young age, I was particularly sad and heartbroken that she’s learning too much of foreign culture and traditions. I told myself “this cannot continue. I have to do something about this.”
In a frantic effort to save my little girl from being swept off her feet by this Indian man teaching her things, I went searching for “children cartoons and animations for African kids” so that she could learn a bit about her African origin, our stories, our rich cultural heritage, social and moral values. I wouldn’t even mind if she could also learn about our foods, else, one day, I fear she’d ask that we reduce her menu to the Indian Biryani, Curry rice and Korean Kimchi that she sees on YouTube or TV every day.

(This article is about my concern for lack of original educational and entertaining African cartoons and animations for African children. Through series of stories and analogies in this article, my goal is to encourage young Nigerians to take up programming and animation design and built great online contents and possibly a great African Startup.)

Unfortunately, my search for an African cartoon and animation contents for my daughter left me with nothing but one or two titles: the popular “Mark of Uru” that seems to have gone out of production together with “Bino and Fino” produced by the Nigeria-based animator, Adamu Waziri @BinoandFino.
While I was a bit excited that I found something, I was very sad for our nation and future children who may never have the opportunity to learn about Nigeria or their African origin due to a severe lack of original African contents for children. The only thing some children may learn about Africa will come from foreign media which undoubtedly will be filled with gravely negative contents and pictures of malnourished children.

READ NEXT:  Complaining about the unfairness of life is the best way to fail at it

Who Will Create African Contents For African Kids?

If there’s a dollar for every film, propaganda or fund-raising campaign that showcase Africa as a country rather than a continent, that show African children as hungry and poverty-stricken, and all African jumping from trees to trees like Tarzan, then it won’t come as a surprised than over a million dollar would be gathered.

The negative tactics that many humanitarian organizations employ when raising funds to line their coffers make my stomach churn in disgust. Not only are NGOs and media leveraging such misery videos and images to appeal to peoples’ emotions, some companies also seem to have deemed it fit to make business out of it.

korean

I recently saw billboard ads for a new product from South Korea’s largest tobacco company named “Africa”. The smokers were unabashedly characterized as animals, monkeys and apes… all smoking and dancing to the tunes from traditional African percussion instruments.

In their defense, the spokesperson of the company said “we absolutely had no intention to offend anyone and only chose monkeys because they are delightful animals that remind people of Africa, (Seriously!?)”
A Korean airline also that just expanded their flying destinations to Kenya also decided to show pictures of African Safari, lions, elephant, monkeys and other animals as reasons for people to fly to “Africa”. Not a single human was shown in the almost 120 seconds ads.
What a depravity!

Almost every night on at least one popular foreign TV channel, you’ll either see a reality show or a fundraising campaign advert by celebrities where African children are depicted as grotesque, depraved, naked, and helpless victims of war, diseases and famine.

READ NEXT:  Dear Dumb Venture Capitalist

These are the images the media show, these are the ideas and opinions that they want the people to have about Africa and Africans and of course these are what most people know about Africa.

No wonder when I arrived in South Korea few years ago, many Koreans who rarely see black people (except on TV) were either scared and almost sh!t their pants in fear. The brave ones among them that managed to speak with me just do not know whether they should coo and shout like Tarzan to speak with me. Many Koreans are still surprised when I speak English to them. They do not understand why an African can speak English so well.

But in all these, the underlining challenges are the same – how do we change or replace the story of misery and calamity that foreigners have about Africans with inspiring stories of creativity, talent and rich cultural heritage that can make respectable human connections?
How can we create enduring legacies that our children can learn from and be proud of? How do we let children with African origin learn about their rich cultural heritage, create a sense of identity, pride, patriotism, social and moral values in our children? So that every child with an African origin would be proud to lift up their hands in public and confidently talk about their African heritage.

One by One, a Little Here, a Little There…

We can change the negative perception about our country and many other African countries. Truly, there are many positive developments in African that the West regularly ignores. We should give more attention to positive developments in Africa and change the simplistic explanations of crisis, poverty and AIDS the uninformed world have about us.

READ NEXT:  Best advice for 20 something year old I've ever read

African children in Diaspora should have a reference point and a connection to their African culture. We should give our children something close to the experience we had while growing up where our grandparents will seat us on their laps and tell us moonlight stories about great African legends, mythologies, fantasy stories and several other tales and fables. We should bring those wonderful experiences to our children in 2D or 3D animation films in a way they would understand and connect with.

By @RichardAfolabi

I'm a thinker, teacher, writer, Python enthusiast, Wireless Engineer, Web geek and a solid Chelsea FC Fan. I'm interested in data science, analytics, visualization and data intelligence. Feel free to get in touch.

  • Michael

    This article is not only challenging but very important. We are in a phase where we need to redefine Africa and present it in a better light to the next generations of Africans in the diaspora. Our choice is limited in this matter; we either transfer the beauty of our African heritage to our kids or forever lose them to foreign culture.
    There are beautiful books read by our parents which were transferred to some of us. Books written with African focus and storyline promoting our values – sugar girls, the boy slave, fagunwa’s books, books written by Odunjo, Soyinka’s books, etc – should be promoted to kids in the diaspora. If I may intentionally challenge the author of this article (knowing that you are a tech guru), “how do we transfer these books and stories into something that will appeal to African children of the 21st century and of the diaspora?”

  • RichardAfolabi

    Hi Michael, thankx for your comment. Yes you’re right about those books and it’s a shame to see such knowledge been buried.

    Animations is the rave now for children. It connects adult and young ones alike. Mike, I strongly think 3D animations is an excellent way to present these stories to our children in a way they would understand and connect with.

    But, such production is not cheap. I see some Nigerian graphic artists are coming up with animations now but most of them still target jokes and comics.

  • Yeah Richard you are quite right. however this is not just a diaspora thing. I bet a child growing up in any major nigerian city today is just as influenced.
    its time we reversed the trend of westernisation. local content is simply not cool. check out our contemporary music- completely souless… it’s one of those tragic things thats a reality. it’s a systematic annihilation of our culture with our pemission. quite sad but i hope we are able to salvage the situaation

  • banji

    well I am a parent now and I intend teaching my kids about their heritage. It begins with we the parents

  • Sesan Lawal

    Indeed not only challenging but also consoling to have people still living not in denial of their African heritage. Go in this might and spore Africans to greatness, Taking their unique place in global trends. Greeting to the subject of this inspired writing – OluwaNifemi. God bless you sir, God bless Africa!