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#AfricaMonth: Anyone from anywhere can be a superhero
Zambian writer Malenga Mulendema created Mama K’s Super 4.
For example, just imagine what it would be like watching the adventures of four African teen girls living in a neo-futuristic Lusaka, Zambia, recruited by a retired secret agent still committed to saving the world through a low-budget superhero operation.
That's exactly the fantastically African premise behind a new action comedy series devised by Zambian writer Mulendema, Mama K’s Super 4.
No longer just a pipe dream, it'll be on your screen soon, as Mulendema was one of eight winners in the Triggerfish Story Lab pan-African talent search initiative in 2015, supported by The Walt Disney Company and The Department of Trade and Industry.
Netflix has inked a deal to team up with South Africa's Triggerfish Animation Studios and UK distributor CAKE on an African animated action-comedy series...
17 Apr 2019
Mulendema grew up watching cartoons on TV and found herself asking why no heroes looked like her and why they didn’t live in a world that felt like her own. Just like that, the idea for Mama K’s Super 4 was born.
Designed by Cameroonian artist Malcolm Wope, it draws visual inspiration from retro-1990s R&B and hip-hop girl groups and brings a fresh perspective to a classic cartoon genre, with the team of four using their smarts to fight rich and powerful opponents.
And as part of a continent-wide initiative to engage local female writing talent, Mama K’s Team 4 is now being produced by Cape Town-based Triggerfish Animation Studios and London-based kids’ entertainment specialist, Cake.
While Variety reports that the series has been in progress as a 25 x 22-minute 2D-animated project since September 2017, with its launch date yet to be announced, I chatted to Mulendema to find out more about what led her to create the series, as well as her advice for African content creators, inspired by this specific success…
I created the series in response to a call by Triggerfish Animation in 2015 for storytellers on the continent.
In creating a superhero show set in Lusaka, I hope to introduce the world to four strong African girls who save the day in their own fun and crazy way. Most importantly, I want to illustrate that anyone from anywhere can be a superhero.I was interested in creating something that celebrated African ingenuity in a fun and exciting way.
As a child, I found reporters very interesting. They seemed so in charge. They seemed to know everything!
This is the type of show that will inspire children to use their imagination a little more.
It may help them imagine endless possibilities for themselves. It will be a show, I hope, that will make them ask 'what if?!'
My advice would be to create what you are interested in seeing. I hope the show will inspire those who, like me, had never considered animation, to start to explore it to see if it’s a platform they would want to use to tell stories.
It’s sure to inspire many. If you’re an English-speaking female writer from Africa and you’ve had your work produced for either TV, film or theatre, you can apply to join the Triggerfish Writers Lab from the careers page of their website at www.triggerfish.com. Be sure to follow #MamaKsTeam4, Netflix and Triggerfish on Twitter for the latest updates!