Netflix to Release First Original Animated Series from Africa, ‘Mama K’s Team 4’

Netflix is teaming up with South Africa’s Triggerfish to create its first original animated series from Africa, ‘Mama K’s Team 4.’ The superhero saga is produced by the Cape Town-based Triggerfish in association with London’s CAKE. Zambian writer Malenga Mulendema and Cameroonian artist Malcolm Wope are the creators. ‘Mama K’s Team 4′ features four girls from the futuristic city of Lusaka, Zambia. The teen girls’ lives catapult into the strange world of espionage when they are recruited by a retired secret agent for a mission to save the world.

The idea of ‘Mama K’s Team 4’ was born at Triggerfish Animation Studios’ Story Lab initiative in 2015. The event invited animation writers from all over the African continent to pitch their story ideas for a unique African animation. Malenga Mulendema emerged as one of eight winners with her stunning idea of ‘Mama K’s Team 4.’ ‘Cartoons were an exciting part of my childhood in Zambia,’ says Mulendema in an interview. ‘But regardless of whether it was the scheduled one hour of cartoons on the local broadcaster or multiple hours, later, on international channels, representational characters were very few and far between,’ she adds.

The series features an all girl-team of African secret agents. ‘So to me, selecting an all-female writing team was a natural fit, because who better to create and connect to those characters than females themselves,’ reveals Mulendema. The four African girls embark on a covert mission to save the world through their unique funny and crazy way. The outfits of the four girls are reportedly inspired by retro ’90s R&B and hip-hop girl groups. Apart from the four girls, the titular Mama K, who is a retired secret agent, also plays a key role in the series. ‘Now, like never before, it is so important to have strong female lead characters who are emotionally connected to their world and who can choose to change their world,’ Mulendema said. ‘So to me, selecting an all-female writing team was a natural fit, because who better to create and connect to those characters than females themselves,’ she added. Reports reveal that Netflix is in a hot search with Triggerfish Animation Studios and CAKE to assemble an African female writers team for the show.

The Cape Town-based Triggerfish Animation Studios is best known for popular children’s animation characters and series. The studio is also known for several BBC Christmas specials, including the Oscar-nominated ‘Revolting Rhymes.’ ‘In addition to giving African writers a global platform on which to be heard, we are excited to present this powerful and entertaining new animated series that brings Malenga’s incredible and unique vision to life on Netflix,’ said Melissa Cobb, Netflix vice president of original animation. ”Mama K’s Team 4′ has the potential to give a whole new generation of African children the opportunity to see themselves on-screen in the powerful, aspirational characters they look up to,’ Cobb added. The series joins Netflix’s growing roster of original animated programming designed for kids and families. The global streaming giant has confirmed plans to come up with original content from Africa earlier. The move is part of Netflix’s expansion plans to establish a diverse and global roster catering to an international audience. Apart from South Africa, Netflix reportedly focuses on Nigeria’s Nollywood, the world’s second-largest fimmaking industry. On the other hand, Disney has already announced its own streaming service Disney+. The platform brings together all the beloved cartoons and characters of Disney. Its Netflix’s turn to refresh their catalog to rival Disney+.