Photo shows a Nigerian boy watching TV cartoon at the first public showing of Chinese animations in Africa in the capital city of Abuja on Feb. 4, 2018. (Xinhua/Chen Shupin)
by Olatunji Saliu
ABUJA, Feb. 5 (Xinhua) -- Hundreds of Nigerian kids and their Chinese friends gathered at a garden in the capital city of Abuja on Saturday to witness the first public showing of Chinese animations in Africa.
The debut screening, organized by StarTimes, a Chinese firm which offers a direct-to-home pay-TV service, was held as part of the activities marking the 2018 Chinese Spring Festival.
Thereafter, StarTimes, which has a presence in more than 20 countries in Africa, will broadcast excellent Chinese animated content every day, at prime time, on the StarTimes KungFu channel.
At least seven top Chinese animation companies are in Nigeria to promote the entertainment brand.
Their mission is to explore the African animation industry and promote its development, starting with Nigeria which proves to have a huge market potential.
The Chinese animation festival reached a crescendo as the Nigerian kids and their Chinese friends jointly participated in mask painting and bead making, among other interesting activities held to further promote the cultural exchange between China and Nigeria.
Another highlight of the event was the performance of the Chinese traditional lion dance by students of a government secondary school in Abuja.
Speaking to Xinhua, 10-year-old Farid Gebbery and his friend Faizer Folayan, said the colorful Chinese Animation Spring Festival has stimulated their interests in the animation industry.
"I like animations a lot. I watch them at home. But here I've seen that the Chinese are very artistic and their animations are very different from others," said the young Gebbery.
Folayan, claiming to have seen many Chinese animations before, said he thinks "they (the Chinese) are very artistic people and smart."
"I have seen plenty animations but my favorites are the kungfu animations," he said.
The lads expressed their desires to see local Nigerian characters in animations and cartoons in the future.
Most Nigerian children are exposed to television at a relatively young age, and almost every child is fascinated by video animations, especially cartoons.
In an earlier interview, Huang Jingtian, the marketing director of Huangzhou Minglang Films and TV Production Company Limited, told Xinhua that the desire to make more African kids see the Chinese animation was her firm's top priority in Africa.
"I really think we can work together (with African film producers and directors) and I believe that we can create a lot of animation films together with Nigerian talents, for Nigerian kids," Huang said.
The Chinese animation expert said her visit to Africa for the first time has made her realize that most Nigerian kids would love to have Nigerian characters, and not Disney characters, in animation films.
"I will do my best to make it come true. It cannot be done only by the Chinese part. We can offer the technology and our experience but it will all be about Nigerian historical and adventure stories. We want the kids to have what they will really enjoy," she added.
Before rounding off their visit to Nigeria, representatives of the Chinese animation companies here will make a trip to Lagos, Nigeria's main city and entertainment hub, to facilitate more fruitful collaborations with local animation companies.
Li Xuda, the director of China Cultural Center in Abuja, described the Chinese Animation Spring Festival on Saturday as "very significant and meaningful," as it provided the right platform for China and Nigeria's animation producers, directors and experts to learn from each other and promote the development of the animation industry of both China and Nigeria.
"This year, we've had a big beginning. So, next year we will cooperate with each other to make the carnival happen once again," Li said, noting that the Chinese government was encouraging the animation companies to invest in Nigeria.
"Both countries can work together for a better future in the animation industry," he added.