Ibrahim Waziri is the head of business development for Nigeria-produced educational children’s cartoon Bino and Fino. I recently caught up with him to talk about representation of black kids on television, the show’s fandom, and how the program came to fruition.
Bani Amor: What’s the story behind Bino and Fino? How did the show come about?
Ibrahim Waziri: The story behind Bino and Fino, I would say, is one of necessity. My brother (project creator Adamu Waziri) and I noticed there were no animated shows for children here. We wondered why this was not being taken up so we decided to do it. We get a lot kids shows from the States and Europe that are well-received. We just thought it would be good to have balance. Children pick up very quickly when they are not being represented on television. This can have a huge effect on their self-esteem if they don’t see themselves in the same shows that they love to watch.
Bani: Is the show just aimed toward African children, because I’ve noticed there’s a States-side fandom as well?
Ibrahim: Not at all. The show is for anyone who is looking for a well-balanced and positive image of Africa. We have fans in places such as Sweden and Brazil. People are just hungry for an authentic voice to introduce their children to African culture. Bino and Fino is for everyone.
Bani: What do you think are the repercussions of incomplete representation of African children on TV?
Ibrahim: Globally, there is very little representation of black children on TV. For some reason this has been going on for quite a while. I would say the repercussions are one where both African and non-African black kids don’t feel a sense of belonging in such mediums. Again, this can have an effect on their self-esteem and how they see themselves in the world. In Africa, this is changing as there are cartoon shows coming that are changing the status quo. In the next five years, the TV landscape will be much different here with a few African children’s properties.
Bani: And what have the responses from kids and their parents been like?
Ibrahim: The reviews and testimonials from parents have been wonderfully positive! We’ve had parents ask us for when our next DVD is coming out and when we will be available on television places such as Brazil, the US, and UK, just to name a few. It’s quite moving when you hear how strongly children identify with the characters, going as far as to say how they look like Fino. We are very humbled by it. The children also seem to love our shorts, which teach them how to count in Igbo, Yoruba, and Hausa.
Bani: Anything else you’d like to add before we wrap up?
Ibrahim: There certainly is. We will be launching DVD 2 from the series on August 14, 2015. There will be screenings in several countries and cities. States-side, we should be having screenings in Ferguson, San Francisco, and Harlem if everything falls together.
Bani: Ferguson! That’s awesome. Thank you again!