Post Image
  In a revolutionary move for the entertainment industry, a new animated Disney series, “Iwaju”, set in a futuristic version of Lagos, has captivated its initial audience with a compelling Sci-Fi interpretation of life in the bustling Nigerian megacity.
Read more about Entertainment
This six-part series, available on Disney+, has successfully integrated Lagosian slang, iconic lagoon markets, and notorious traffic jams into a future setting, teeming with advanced technology, seamlessly preserving some of the city’s current challenges. Representing Disney’s inaugural collaboration with an external studio, this venture is part of the company’s broader initiative to showcase more African animations, an area that has historically been overlooked by major foreign entertainment corporations. A preview event, attended by AFP, was held at IMAX Lekki in Lagos before the series’ release, featuring insights from the creators of “Iwaju.” The term “Iwaju,” meaning ‘future’ in Yoruba, was conceived by the pan-African entertainment company Kugali, founded in 2017 by Nigerians Olufikayo ‘Ziki’ Adeola and Tolu Olowofoyeku, along with Hamid Ibrahim from Uganda. The creators, adorned in suits, made a grand entrance on the red carpet, joined by Nollywood luminaries and Nigeria’s culture minister. Ibrahim, the headset designer, expressed the audience’s collective awe, stating that the series left viewers “mind-blown.” Each 20-minute episode intricately weaves recognizable elements of Lagos into its narrative, from the city’s geographical features to street vendors selling local cuisine. Ibrahim emphasized the importance of blending futuristic elements with Lagos’ identity to ensure recognition by both local and global audiences. “Futuristic elements are mixed with Lagos’ identity. It was important to us that Lagosians recognise their city and that others discover its specificities,” Ibrahim said.
Sign up for the Connect Nigeria daily newsletter
The series revolves around the story of Tola, a 10-year-old from a wealthy Lagos family, and her best friend Kole, a 13-year-old tech prodigy residing in the city’s impoverished sector. Their friendship faces a severe test posed by Bode, a tech villain orchestrating a criminal kidnapping ring. Drawing inspiration from a real incident involving Adeola’s friend escaping abduction by leaping into Lagos lagoon, the creators tackled the sensitive topic of kidnapping, ensuring that the portrayal is child-friendly. Beyond the intense theme of kidnapping, “Iwaju” explores diverse and captivating themes such as family, love, curiosity, inequality, and questioning the status quo, making it an enjoyable watch for audiences of all ages. The series received praise during the preview, with viewers noting the relatability of accents and the inclusion of authentic Lagos slang. Disney Studios expressed its commitment to featuring more stories with African characters, marking a significant milestone for Nollywood, African filmmakers, and animators. Femi Branch, the voice actor for Bode, characterized the collaboration as groundbreaking, expressing a deep sense of honour. “It’s a groundbreaking thing for our industry, Nollywood, for African filmmakers, for African animators,” said Femi Branch. Jennifer Lee, Chief Creative Officer of Walt Disney Animation Studios, learned about Kugali after a 2019 BBC story where Ibrahim boldly claimed that the studio’s creations would rival Disney’s impact in Africa. Convinced by Kugali’s audacity and their impressive work on African comics, Lee acknowledges the significance of this collaboration.
Register to attend the CN Business Mixer
As streaming platforms gain popularity, Digital TV Research predicts a substantial increase in paid subscriptions in sub-Saharan Africa, further emphasizing the importance of diverse and culturally rich content like “Iwaju.”
Got a suggestion? Contact us:

You might also like:
This article was first published on 5th March 2024


Chidiogo Shalom Akaelu holds a degree in English and Literary Studies, from the University of Nigeria. She is a freelance writer, editor and founder of Loana Press, a budding online publishing outlet.

Comments (0)

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *