I am a Kenyan author and illustrator best known for my ink illustrated graphic novels. My work addresses history, technology, environmental sustainability and the future of education in Africa. I am also the co-founder of Freehand Studios, an African Digital Arts and Education Company that creates socially impactful content and experiences.
Ten years as a professional. I wrote and illustrated my first comic Emergency, in 2010.
This grant will allow my studio to produce the first ‘teaser’ episode of the motion comic TRUST, a story set in the fictional future African nation of Wahengaland. The first episode, entitled ‘Magokoro’ (which means grandmother) will frame the story and introduce the main characters. TRUST will be based on a graphic novel of the same name by myself and co-author Anne Connelly.
Following this residency, we will use this trailer to pitch our project to future potential partners and funders, allowing us to begin realizing our dream of creating this film, which has been curtailed by the coronavirus pandemic.
What did you achieve during this creative residency ? What is the result (created work) ? Who was involved in the creation process ?
During this creative residency, the team at Freehand Studios produced a short 4 minute ‘teaser’ of the Motion Comic called ‘TRUST’. TRUST was originally conceived as a graphic novel by writer and illustrator Chief Nyamweya and blockchain expert Anne Connelly. In order to capture the vast richness and essence of the story and its characters and setting, Freehand Studios has joined forces with digital artist & wildlife cameraman Manuel Akatsa of Sonara Studios to work on an adapted short animation that promotes the importance of an African future that embraces its rich history, wildlife, community and traditional knowledge. This story is also exploring the importance of technology as a means to improve the way we monitor, model and understand our heritage and biodiversity and communities.
The Africalia’s “Creativity if life” grant gave the team the necessary resources and impetus to turn the first chapter of Trust graphic novel into a motion comic.
How do you think these activities contribute to a reflection on today’s world, in relation to the COVID-19 crisis, and/or on the shaping of the future ?
Trust is a graphic novel set in the fictional future African nation Wahengaland (Swahili for land of the ancestors). The people of Wahengaland live in a trust-based society under the laws of the mythical Ageless Elephant known as Njogu who is said to have warned of great social and environmental upheaval should the people of Wahengaland depart from her laws.
Through this story, and during these unprecedented times, Freehand Studios aims to inspire a generation of young Africans about the importance of community, sustainability, traditional knowledge and technology, motivating them to imagine and implement alternative futures. Now, more than ever, young Africans hunger for stories that inspire them to be part of a movement dedicated to building a better future rooted in mutual trust, sustainability and progress.
The survival of Africa’s history and traditional knowledge is under treat from a neoliberal capitalist agenda that prioritizes economic growth at the expense of sustainability. This story is an attempt to document some of that knowledge and inspire young Africans to reimagine their futures.
How did you feel during the residency ? And at the end of it ?
It felt overwhelming satisifying to see Trust come to life. While the team has over 10 years of experience in creating graphic novels and animation, we had never brought the two mediums together. As a graphic novelist and founder of an animation studio, I thought this experience was not only rewarding but also a learning experience. We are now extremely excited to share it with the world !