Tag Archives: Nigeria

Bino and Fino, cartoons that bring Africa to the world

“I loved cartoons and comics when growing up-I totally immersed myself in that world.”

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.

thandiekay interview Bino and Fino PR Poster


Cultural Mix and Inspiration

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.images

I am also inspired by those people I see working hard in the hot sun, selling food products worth less than $0.10 every day because they have to. They don’t have the luxury of choice which I have.

The lack of powerful African voices in the world of children’s media inspires me to work harder to help change that.

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.

African culture crossing continents -via cartoons

Brazil has the largest Afro-descendant population outside of Africa but educational or entertainment content about the African continent is not readily available to the majority of children in Brazil.

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.


The Future

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.bino-and-fino-free-dvd-download

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 want to stop the divisive hate against each other.the-family

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.


Watch Bino and Fino on YouTube

Purchase Bino and Fino DVDs here

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The multi-creative world of Yagazie Emezi

Posted by Kay

I saw Yagazie’s cartoons on instagram and was an instant fan. I then noticed that she was also a photographer, Vlogger, Visual Curator and made travel documentaries!

Keen to know what inspired such boundless creativity, and hear all about her world I got in touch. I’m so glad I did.

I grew up in Aba, a small but busy town in Nigeria.

I lived there until I was 16 before moving to The States to finish up high school and attend college.

My parents’ stories and their old pictures inspired me as a child. They travelled quite a bit in their heyday, and I was always drawn to their description of places so foreign to me.Nigeria-Airways-Fokker-28-at-Calabar-airport-1970s










It developed my interest to learn more about different cultures.  There was a lot going on outside of our home in Aba during the time we growing up so our parents kept us fairly sheltered.

We were free to move by ourselves, but it was always school and then home.

Their stories motivated me to look beyond what was in front of me.

Yagazie photographs Nigereia

Yagazie photographs Nigeria


An African in America

I chose to study Cultural Anthropology, I definitely had the Discovery Channel in mind but honestly, I had resigned myself to the life of a professor and personal research, which scared me.  However I knew that my work would always center around home and women.

Yagazie Emezi's cartoonsArriving to study in the U.S. everything was different and easier.

School was easier, the ease of shopping, transport, work, all the junk food – little luxuries a teen would enjoy! I assimilated quickly. I got a part-time job in less than two months of being that and juggled it with school. I kept on working non-stop well into college and after that.

For that reason, I had to adjust because I had been tossed slap-bang into the middle of it all. As a result, my experiences after a year or so in The States quickly molded to be similar experiences of those living around me.

For the most part, I never saw that distinction of being an ‘African in America’, though when I first moved into high school, I never quite fitted in with the black kids because I was ‘African’. This was understandably though.

We were from different cultures but it was very natural for me that after an entire life spent in the most black populated country in the world that I would automatically navigate towards what I saw as familiar.

As the years passed, my experiences with people (predominately in New Mexico) expanded and I grew to embrace the new cultural surroundings- mine just as it is theirs- so I never paused to view myself as ‘an African in America’. It just simply is. It’s my right and my experiences along with the masses of different cultures present in The States.

Our experiences especially as immigrants, naturalized citizens are different, not just due to the fact that we bring our home with us, but also because there will always be people who will see as us as ‘the other in America’ rather than just ‘in America’.

Compartments of creativity

During all hours I’m a photographer, vlogger and cartoonist. They all live in their separate compartments, with only the occasional idea crossing over.

Life as a freelancer has its ups and downs but one of the ups is that I get to give my individual passions the full attention they deserve. There’s no need to combine them.

Yagazie EmeziRecently, Nike South Africa commissioned me for their Air Max Day. They reached out to me-I couldn’t turn them down now, could I?

For the time being, I will keep on churning out my toons and sharing them with the world. A book is currently in the works, which I’m pretty excited about. It’s actually complete but I’m still not rushing it!

I would like more people to accept this naked brown girl and still find her relatable across all backgrounds. There can never be enough brown girl representation, but it doesn’t mean brown girls are the only ones who can feel a tie to her.

If people can look at my work and smile, we can work!


With my photography, I aim to show people a different side of Nigeria. Just not with the pictures themselves, but also tying a relevant story to it.

My videos are to dispel the ridiculous notion in African communities that an African woman has to be ‘this way or that’.

I address sexuality, mental health and other topics often hushed in our communities.

My goal is to simply change and grow minds. I am open to all platforms. The key is simple relatability.

Besides my book, my photography around Nigeria and my adventures are constantly on the go.

My videos are going to have a new spin on them once I quit procrastinating! All upcoming projects can be kept up through my Instagram! Yagazie Emezi cartoon

Thank you for sharing your world with us Yagazie!

Follow Yagazie on instagram, and follow her  her ‘toon’ instagram

On YouTube,

And see her website

Dolls Are Us

Intro from Kay

Being an only child meant I spent a lot of time in the world of dolls and I had many over the years. Barbie was never on my radar, she was a little too ‘cheerleader-esque’ for a little Brit like me, and Sindy (the British equivalent) seemed frumpy. My favourite doll as a girl was Daisy, a real ‘doll du jour’. Designed by Mary Quant, Daisy was a gorgeous blonde whose hair (which if you brushed out went into a strange sideways Afro hybrid) formed one very large curl all the way around her head. I liked Daisy because she had a fabulous wardrobe and seemed like a cool and independent young lady, neither innapropriately sex-toy looking like Barbie, or a housewife like Sindy..

But I was never going to look like Daisy. She was very fair-skinned, had highly styleable, long blonde hair and impossibly long, skinny thighs.Daisy Dolls


 There were no dolls that looked like me. Were there any that looked like you?

So let’s discuss dolls.

Barbie – the world’s most popular doll and female icon for so many little girls – was born in March 1959 and came in both blonde and brunette hair and was the first doll to have an adult, not infant’s, appearance. Ruth Handler, the woman behind the creation of Barbie (named after her daughter, Barbara) was actually the wife of one of the co-founders of the Mattel toy company which produced the doll. Since then over one billion Barbie dolls have been sold worldwide in over 150 countries and Mattel claim three are sold every second.

Mattel has created a range of friends for Barbie over the years including redhead Midge, Hispanic Teresa, African-American Christie (first introduced in 1967/68) and Christie’s boyfriend, Steven. In later years, Barbie made her first Asian friend, Kira Wang, in 1990 and then Nikki, another African American friend in 1996. Barbie has also had a host of jobs over the decades (around 130) including space explorer, presidential candidate (serving as the ‘B Party’ candidate!) and computer engineer.

It wasn’t until the 1990s that Mattel pushed out a targeted advertising campaign specifically for the hispanic and african-american dolls in a bid to allow ‘ethnic Barbie lovers to dream in their own image’.

Over in Africa, the dolls outselling Barbie in Nigeria however, is Queens of Africa,

Queens Of Africa

Queens Of Africa

a trio of girls modelled on three of the country’s tribes. Founder Taofick Okoya, created the dolls to help create a positive influence on his daughter’s childhood, after she once wished to be white.

“It made me aware that I needed to make her proud and happy being a black African girl, and not limit it to her alone as this was a common trend among the younger generation. The Queens of Africa became a platform to achieve this.”

In 2016, after years of debate about Barbie’s unrealistic body shape, she got a makeover with three new body types: petite, tall and curvy. This news was released by Time magazine with the cover image showing the new ‘curvy’ Barbie.


More serious than child’s play.

In the 1940s African-American psychologists Kenneth Clark and his wife Mamie conducted a study on children’s attitudes about race through dolls. Black children in the study were given white and black dolls and then asked which dolls were “good,” “bad,” “nice,” and “mean.” The majority – 63% – said they’d rather play with the white doll and associated positive qualities with the white dolls and negative qualities with the black ones.

“To separate them from others of similar age and qualifications solely because of their race generates a feeling of inferiority as to their status in the community that may affect their hearts and minds in a way unlikely to ever be undone”.

Eve Arnold in her 1968 book Black is Beautiful, shot a factory in Harlem where black dolls were being produced.

Eve Arnold in her 1968 book Black is Beautiful, shot a factory in Harlem where black dolls were being produced.



60 years later a professor Robin Bernstein, a professor of African and African American studies and women, gender, and sexuality, revisited the Clark study. He thought the study’s results were not necessarily a reflection of self-hatred among black children but reflected a negative portrayal of black culture in American media. In theatre and TV they were subjected to ‘servitude or comic violence’ which sent messages to children that they should play with black and white dolls differently. He also noted white children in the 19th and 20th century were often violent and abusive to their black dolls but were punished by parents if they did the same to their white dolls. He thought the notion that one doll should be loved and cherished and the other physically harassed was a reflection of culture and popular media at the time.


“Malaville is a place of stunning beauty, where everyone is welcome to play”

So delighted to stumble upon Malaville Dolls on Instagram recently which inspired this post. 

Mala Bryan

Mala Bryan

Tell us about how you chose their distinctive looks?

“I chose the skin tones from Pantone color charts and choose different browns for the eyes. Only my fashion model doll required makeup but I still wanted to keep it looking natural. I wanted their natural beauty to shine. I gave one doll a beauty mark near her nose (like I have) and another some freckles just to change their looks a bit. Then I chose the hair fibers from kinky curls to a loose curl.”
“The clothing had to go with each doll’s personality and career. Maisha’s name means life and part of my Ma’lavi’lle logo spells out LAVI which also means life in my Creole language, so I decided to have that on a t-shirt for her with some cool pants, it felt fitting as she’s a fashion stylist.
“For Mala, I made her a sweatshirt with my personal MB logo on it. I usually wear mine whenever I travel. I paired that with some shorts and sneakers because that was my favorite way to dress when I was a teenager. My girlfriend chose the dress that Malina is wearing. From a business point of view, a princess dress is a must. And I wanted a nice, smart but still girly look, so Mhina ended up getting that look.
“I made the package to look like a suitcase, with passport stamps and baggage tags, as I felt like the dolls have been on a wonderful journey with me and I wanted them to continue on to a great journey with their new owners. So they had to be packaged for travel.”

Why is a diverse representation in the dolls children play with important?

“I believe that diverse representation is extremely important because children tend to associate their dolls with their playmate. Parents can usually tell how their children are interacting with their friends by observing how they play with their dolls. So if a doll does not have the same skin color of that child or their friend, imagine the confusion it causes. Lots of adults talk about the sizes of the dolls as well but most times kids comment on the hair of a doll and the color, so I made that my focus to start. Everything else will come after.”Malaville-dolls-2-600x478

What inspired you to create Malaville Dolls?

“I went shopping for toys to give away to some children back in my hometown in St Lucia but had a very tough time finding black/brown ones. So I ended up buying only white barbies, this bothered me a tiny bit as I wanted to give the children dolls that were more relevant for them. As far as I can remember it didn’t affect me negatively having white dolls growing up but I made note we are living in a different time now – children nowadays are exposed more to race so the idea of making my own was born. However my modelling career got busy again and I put the idea aside.

“Then I started growing my Barbie doll collection again but could not find affordable curly haired black/brown dolls. There are lots of adult doll collectors who re-root black Barbie dolls with more natural hair but they are usually quite expensive. So the urge to make some affordable black/brown dolls with Afro/curly hair became stronger. If there is something that I want and I cannot find it as I want it, I will find a way to make it myself and that is how my dolls came to be.”

Who do you envisage buying and playing with your dolls?

“My target audience is both adults and children. Adults who want their inner child to come out to play. Children of all races. Black children with Afro/curly hair should be able to have dolls that they can relate to and children of other races should be able to have diversity in their doll collection.”

What impact do you want Malaville Dolls to have?

“I want my dolls to have an impact on the citizens of the world, not just in Africa. I believe that even the Dollie world needs diversity. For adults, I would love them to be able to play with the dolls and feel stressful situations disappear and for them to be able to connect with their inner child, that is something I believe is very important.
For children, I love the fact that finally I’ve been able to create a doll that many young black and brown girls can relate to and many children of other races can now have a black and brown doll to add to their collection. The dolls were created for everyone, both young and old, black and white, brown and yellow.”



The remarkable world of Zuriel Oduwole, the 13 year old female education activist

At a recent event when the winner of ‘New African Woman On The Rise’ was announced,

Zuriel Oduwole

Zuriel Oduwole

 journalist and presenter Emeline Nsingi Nkosi was taken aback and very intrigued to see a confident girl take to the stage. Zuriel Oduwole, a 13-year old Nigerian, female education activist best known for her work on the advocacy for the education of girls in Africa left her in awe. Zuriel’s Wikipedia page says “Her advocacy has led her to be the youngest person to be profiled by Forbes. In 2014, at age 12, Oduwole was the world’s youngest filmmaker to have a self-produced work screened commercially, after her film showed in two movie chains.”

As a young filmmaker, P&G hired her in June last year to create a documentary on Girls Confidence.

Zuriel was recently referred to as “The Most Powerful Girl in The World” .


Emeline Nsingi Kkosi



We asked Emeline to interview her.

A presenter and creative with a background in Fashion Textiles, she founded M about Town (a London-based show) and is currently working on season 2.

Passionate about working with charities and social initiatives, Emeline is the presenter for Esimbi, a social enterprise working to bring work experience to the Afro-Caribbean community and recently embarked on a journey to India in November 2015 to film a documentary on the volunteering charity named Indigo Volunteers. Here is her inspiring interview to fuel you through the week


Wonderful to meet you Zuriel, tell us who is your biggest inspiration?

I would probably have two. One is a person, and the second is a group of people. nelson_mandelaSo, for the person, it would be President Nelson Mandela, because after 27 years in prison, he forgave all those that put him there when he became President and encouraged the country to do the same. That is very, very cool, beyond inspirational. It taught me about life. The other is a group, and it is the many Girls across Africa who do not have water, or electricity, or are in difficult places yet have to fight to go to school, or have to walk to school. That inspires me to do more, because I have all what they do not have. So I have to do something. Right. I have to. I just can’t watch. I have to do something, I think.

 What motivates you everyday?

ZurielMy parents always told me and my younger siblings that there is nothing called I can’t. Instead, we can say it is difficult. But if it is difficult then it can be done if we focus.

When we travel to African countries like to Ethiopia and Nigeria and Ghana, I always see a lot of young children, especially girls, selling things on the streets, sometimes chasing cars just to sell something small for their families. Sometimes, they get hurt. Sometimes, their shoes fly off when they chase the cars. It is not nice to see. Sometimes, the girls cry because what they were selling would get knocked down-all so sad to see.

So I thought if they were in school, they would be safe.

Also it means that when they get older, they’ll have more options.

So I started to talk to Presidents of African countries about making policies that would allow all children- but especially girls- to go to school until at least around 18. I also began to read and learn more about why Africa has so many children out of school, especially Nigeria with more than 10 million out of school. Do you know that’s more than the population of Switzerland, or the Population of Norway? So I get excited trying to do something to change all of this and some of the Presidents I talk to like what I’m doing, and they encourage me to continue.

 When were you first aware of gender inequality?

With Salva Kiir Mayardit, South Sudanese politician who has been President of South Sudan since its independence in 2011

With Salva Kiir Mayardit, South Sudanese politician who has been President of South Sudan since its independence in 2011

I found out why girls don’t get sent to school in Africa, where the resources are usually very little. The boys get to go to school first, and the girls stay at home. Also in some cultures like in South Sudan, the girls are not even supposed to go to school, but instead, get married when they are 12. So I went to talk to talk to President Salva Kiir (below) about this. He was surprised I wanted to talk about this because I was only 10 years old then, but he listened to me. I also spoke to other Presidents, now 18 in total, and I talk about many things on Education, and how we can send the children to school so they have more options in life when they get older.

 If change needs to start with the younger generation, how can we instigate gender equality?

So I think the easiest way is show and tell. I talk to many mothers in many countries, and sometimes in the rural areas like in Namibia, Ghana and Nigeria. I show them me as an example of what a Girl can do, and I tell them their daughters can do the same too, and maybe even more than me. They always smile when I say that. Sometimes, I show them ‘me’ in Newspapers…Three weeks ago, I was in The Namibian Newspaper in Namibia. Two weeks ago I was in The Voice Newspaper in London. Last week, I was in The Guardian Newspaper in Nigeria…. and then they have many questions.IMG_0575

Us Girls can do what Boys do, and if we are given a chance to show ourselves, we can even do more than boys.

So I am going to give you some examples.

Did you know that the youngest person in the world to be featured in Forbes Magazine was 10 years Old – and a girl?

Do you know that the youngest person in the world to show their work in a Cinema Chain was 12 years old – and a girl?

Did you know that the youngest person in the world to meet and interview 15 incumbent Heads of Government was 12 years old- and a girl?

Zuriel with Ellen Johnson Sirleaf is the 24th and current President of Liberia

Zuriel with Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, the 24th and current President of Liberia

We just have to tell young people what girls can do, so they know anything is possible. We have to show them that girls can do what boys may be able to do. I know boys don’t want to hear that 🙂 That is why I started my Dream Up, Speak Up, Stand Up project, talking to children about the importance of education and I have now spoken to more than 24,600 children in 11 countries about this.

Dream Up, Speak Up, Stand Up

Dream Up, Speak Up, Stand Up

Education is very important, as my good friend President Jakaya Kikwete told me (when he was still President of Tanzania and invited me to visit in 2013 for International Day of The Girl Child) that he too believes Education is key to success in life.

 How do you close the gender gap?

If we continue to do as written above, it would start to happen. All children [boys and girls] must go to school too. And we must get more people involved also. Like Teachers, moms, dads, grocery store managers, police officers, everyone, because they too have daughters, or their friends have daughters, and nieces too.

Zuriel with Abike Kafayat Oluwatoyin Dabiri-Erewa,  politician and former member of the Nigeria Federal House of Representatives representing Ikorodu Constituency in Lagos State.

Zuriel with Abike Kafayat Oluwatoyin Dabiri-Erewa, politician and former member of the Nigeria Federal House of Representatives representing Ikorodu Constituency in Lagos State.

Knowing what you know now from the documentaries and interviews with head of states.

What advice would you give to a growing woc social entrepreneur?

What advice would you give to a growing woc social entrepreneur?

The first thing would be to believe in themselves and not listen to anyone who says they can’t do anything they want to. Also they should start early and start young if they can. Also don’t be intimidated at all about meeting or interviewing Heads of State of Presidents or Prime Ministers, because first and foremost, they are people. Maybe also to share their success stories and those of other Women of Color. That way, they would all see everything is possible, because people have done it, or they are doing it.

 What do you predict for the future of woc in social enterprise?

Very, very, very bright 🙂

What do you enjoy doing in your spare time?

Programming Robots, playing with my siblings, riding my bike with my family on Venice Beach, and playing board games and trivia. I also play in a Soccer and Basketball league, so I enjoy that too. I like winning

What is your guilty pleasure?

I don’t think I have one. I’m only 13! 🙂

Follow the remarkable world of Zuriel on Twitter and on Facebook

Follow Emeline on Twitter and Instagram and see her blog!

Zuriel with Jesse Jackson

Zuriel with Jesse Jackson

With Goodluck Ebele Azikiwe Jonathan, GCFR, BNER, GCON was President of Nigeria from 2010 to 2015

With Goodluck Ebele Azikiwe Jonathan, President of Nigeria from 2010 to 2015



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