Nigerian-born Adamu Waziri lives in Abuja. She grew up in Lagos, spent a while in the U.K. then moved back to Nigeria and created Bino and Fino, a Nigerian cartoon (popular in the US) which teaches kids about the African continent and their African heritage. It’s now setting its sights on launching a Portuguese version in Brazil, where the largest Afro-descendent population outside Africa lives.
My family played a part in inspiring my childhood, they have many cultural influences and a varied heritage. We have different groups in the family such as Hausa and Igbo. There are also different religions within Islam and Christianity represented in my family, so that rich cultural mix has definitely influenced me. That background has provided me with a more balanced outlook on things especially when it comes to having the ability to relating to people as individuals as opposed to labels or stereotypes.
Independent voices in different sectors of the media are another inspiration, those who aren’t just driven by money but by their social impact.
The Bino and Fino show as an idea has existed since around 2007, the first DVD was released in 2010. I would also say that the show has had more success in the US than in Nigeria for various reasons. That is mainly due to the avenues to getting on to TV and establishing DVD distribution networks in Nigeria.
We have a mission to create a true global children’s brand with an authentic African voice for children to watch so Brazil was an important move for us.
Also English-speaking Brazilian fans of Bino & Fino had been asking us about the possibility of a Portuguese version for a few years. We also wanted to do something for Lusophone Africans from countries like Angola and Mozambique. So this seemed as a good place to start.
I feel parts of the Brazilian audience will receive it well – people are interested in finding out more about their African heritage. The next step is now those adults also wanting to teach their children about their African heritage. There are also people without African heritage who are interested in learning about the continent.
We have many challenges. These include things like logistics, piracy and access to finance to grow the business. There are also some interesting cultural issues such as gaining the trust of customers worldwide because our company is based in Nigeria and we don’t hide that fact.
If you look at the wider global social, economic and political context you can see the important and powerful role that media plays and in the world of children’s media, how they soak up the information they receive.
The show has had more impact in several communities in the US than in Nigeria (where it is not so popular) so I can’t really say it has made a difference to millions of children’s lives. There is still plenty of work to do in that regard due to the challenges on ground level. Right now you say we have a niche global audience as we don’t have million dollar marketing budgets etc so most of the growth has been organic due to word of mouth.
Parents around the world that have bought the show or watched the free episodes on line have given us feedback. The interesting thing has been the fact that many parents themselves felt that they have learnt as much as their children about African history, geography and culture from the show.
Right now we are just focused on getting Bino and Fino to where we believe it could be and having the educational and social impact it could.
I want Bino and Fino to become a powerful children’s brand from Nigeria that has as much clout and influence as Dora the Explorer, Sesame Street or Doc Mcstuffins that teaches children about Africa.
I’ve noticed a lot of that. That’s a whole other story and one of the reasons why we do the show. When I see how we continuously attack each other it makes me sad and angry. The bigger picture gets missed amongst all that negative noise and energy. Let’s have more cooperation, positive movements and action.