‘Young generation in Africa missing out on their history’ says Ghanaian animator Cycil Jones Abban

Cycil Jones Abban, Founder and Director of Parables Studios, an animation organization dedicated to enhancing the impact and presence of animation in Ghana and across Africa has told that “a lot of young people in Ghana seem to be missing out on the history of Ghana…

There is the need for the youth and young people to be abreast with the history of the Country. As an animation director, character designer, and visionary, I continually use my work to challenge the stereotypes and inspire a generation of change-makers in Ghana and Africa, but our youths must also be curious about their past,” Mr. Abban said.

He revealed that back in the days when he was growing up in Ghana children had the opportunity to listen to storytelling by the fireside as the elderly would tell them about folklores like Ananse stories or particular historic events or people. “Storytelling activities were a way of passing or instilling cultural values and progressive norms of society into children to help mold their behavior and preserve knowledge,” added Cycil.

Image strips with clips from the movie courtesy ’28th The Crossroads’ animation

Fast-forward — today with the advent of television children have become more exposed to cartoons and animated series and hence the need for folk-stories seems to be in the decline, this presented Mr. Abban with the new opportunity to explore the packaging of such stories in animation for children to enjoy and adults to learn from or revisit great memories.

The ’28th’ story animation and getting media buzz for it

Samuel Quartey, Jeffrey Abban, and Cycil got together to begin work on a feature animation movie to tell the story of the 28th February Crossroads shooting incidence in the then Gold Coast (now Ghana) that later sparked independence agitation with reverberation consequences across the British empire and its influence over Africa.

Mr. Quartey who has practiced and taught animation for nearly 30 years and is a onetime head of the animation program at the National Film and Television Institute of Ghana until 2008 had this to say about the animation movie: “This movie was based on the historical events which led to the shooting of three Second World War veterans. during the colonial era in Gold Coast.”

Our movie focuses on the plight of veterans as they embarked on a peaceful protest to hand over a petition to the colonial authorities, demanding payment for the services rendered during a war some of them devoted half a decade of their lives to,” according to Mr. Quartey.

What motivated us to pick the 28th story was because that date is a very important event that happened in the history of this country. A group of dissatisfied war veterans marching to the seat of government which is the British colonial power to present their petition and then, unfortunately, being met at the Christiansburg Castle (the then seat of government) and eventual deaths as a result of a shootout,” said Mr. Quartey, founder of Animation Africa, an animation consultancy promoting African folklore through animations like 28th The crossroads.

All of us have exciting projects we can’t wait to share with the world about Ghana and Africa,” Mr. Quartey said of himself, Jeffrey and Cycil, stressing that “we have brought on Oral Ofori of TheAfricanDream LLC, a communication and information research consulting firm in the United States to help us spread the word about our projects. Mr. Ofori has so far helped us secure interviews with the BBC and VOA of the United Kingdom and the United States respectively, creating a buzz internationally for us as we wrap up work on releasing this all-important movie.”

Maintaining the cultural identity and authenticity of the African story

In 2006 Mr. Abban directed Ghana’s first animated feature, ‘Ananse Must Die’ which received positive accolades. ’28th The Crossroads’ will be his next project (it is a remake of the 2009 version) in collaboration with Animation African, Mr. Alex Bannerman, Modin Comics, and his Parables Animations. The animator tries as much as he possibly can to make sure that there is a cultural reflection in all of his animated movies and respective projects.

For instance in designing our characters we do a sample of all the traditional wear that comes from different parts of Ghana, ensuring ethnic representation based on the character’s personality. We also employ subliminal methods to speak to the sub-conscience of our viewers and in post-production right now we are factoring in product placements in various scenes. When intend to add some modernized twists because everything has to become trendy and stylish, but no twist will hurt the story for sure” — Cycil Abban

This animated movie is of immense importance because a lot of the narratives about the African continent in Mr. Abban’s opinion are twisted. “Everything is painted dark, impoverished and with some half-truths or outright lies [Cycil Abban told] but we want to change that narrative because we must tell our own stories and preserve them for posterity.

To discover ways in which you or your friends can assist with making this project a success contact or email for more information and don’t hesitate to share other ideas you would love to see animated by this crew.

Written by Christopher Sam

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