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I love cartoons but recently I’ve had to wonder if it’s a do or die affair.

I don’t think there’s any parent in Nigeria with Whatsapp or BBM installed who didn’t get the broadcasts about cartoons with gay characters. I love that parents are becoming increasingly conscious of their responsibilities, and I hope that more and more parents are learning how to use the parental control feature DSTV offers. I’m also glad that parents are having conversations about producing the kinds of cartoons they would want their kids to watch instead of just protesting.

Bino and Fino, an African educational cartoon created by Nigerian animator Adamu Waziri and produced by his Nigerian based animation company is changing the face of children’s entertainment already. I also personally enjoy Big School on DSTV in the mornings.

Still, I had to wonder, if all the cartoons have gay characters or whatever else we want to protect our young ones from until they’re old enough, what will we then do? First off, we can’t remove them from this world; Christian parents will simply have to teach them how to not be of the world, even though they are in it.

Secondly, we need to ask ourselves matter-of-factly, must a child watch cartoons?

I’m a huge fan of cartoons even at my age, but my son doesn’t like them. I’ve thought long and hard and concluded it must be because I didn’t introduce him to TV early, and when I eventually did, I started with Preschool Prep DVDs and others that had human adults and kids in them, like Barney. I didn’t do it deliberately, but now it’s hard to get him interested in cartoons. If he doesn’t see actual human beings, he loses interest very quickly. He would rather look at his picture books and be read to, or listen to music and sing along, or play with his toys and blocks. I’ve succeeded with Dora and Diego because he loves music, but that’s the best he can do for me.

In the wake of all the broadcasts and “full list of cartoons with gay characters”, I started rethinking the wisdom of raising little TV addicts. If our kids are not plunked in front of the TV, what else can they do? It was easier for me as a work-from-home-mum to just slot in a DVD and sit him in front of the TV while I got things done. Nearly all other kinds of young children’s entertainment require another human being, be it another child or an adult:

Throwing or kicking a ball around

Walking in the park

Jumping rope

Arts and crafts

Board games (Monopoly, Ludo)

Simple card games

Even riding a tricycle or bicycle outside requires adult supervision. It’s not easy as a parent to find time to do these things with our kids or even keep an eye on them while they play. I dream of organising a monthly spelling bee in my neighbourhood with fun prizes so that children of different ages can gather and fall more and more in love with words, but when will I get to it?

My friend wants to start a reading club. We’ve been planning it for a while and even had a pilot on Children’s Day but she hasn’t really launched because two children under three + PhD thesis + plus novel-in-progress = little room for much else.

Yet, I refuse to accept that our children are at the mercy of cartoon producers, gay characters or not. Perhaps it’s time to seriously and strategically explore other options. Or, what do you think?

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This article was first published on 30th July 2016


Joy Ehonwa is an editor and a writer who is passionate about relationships and personal development. She runs Pinpoint Creatives, a proofreading, editing, transcription and ghostwriting service. Email: pinpointcreatives [at]

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