Katoto, Kalabanda and Galiwango: Uganda’s Quest for a Global Cartoon Character

When the word cartoonist pops up in a conversation among Ugandan youths, the next statements will without a doubt include names like Atukwasize Chris Ogon, Spire, etc. These are the names we see on social media in our generation, and they really deserve praise and idolizing for the revolutionary work they’ve done for the arts sector. This particular piece though, aims to focus at animators from The Pearl of Africa, and try to figure out why they haven’t yet managed to create a global cartoon character.

You are probably asking yourself, “what is this skinny guy talking about? How come we have Hyena? Hasn’t he even heard of the famous Kingo?” Well, my answer to that is we can do better. It wouldn’t be bad if one of the famous Lion King characters was made by a Ugandan.

I was actually infuriated when I came across “Ugandan Knuckles”; a poorly drawn rendition of Knuckles, a companion character featured in the Sonic, the Hedgehog video game franchise, as portrayed by YouTuber Gregzilla. Apparently, the original Knuckles got infected by a Ugandan disease, and so started sounding ‘Ugandan’. What made me incandescent though, is that the accent was more of Indian and not Ugandan at all, and also there were obnoxious clicks in the speech – someone should inform non-Africans there are no click sounds in East African languages.

In that very moment, my heart bled for the likes of Richard Musinguzi(animator of Katoto) and Solomon Jjagwe(animator of Galiwango). These people haven’t been supported, and I’m not shocked that they are no longer producing as much content as they used to. A step as simple as local TVs buying their content and airing it for the Ugandan child, would go a long way in making the dream come true. It still puzzles me why no TV took on “Galiwango”, an informative masterpiece about wildlife conservation and Mountain Gorilla challenges in South Western Uganda; yet kids in Europe and America grow up wishing to visit East Africa and see Simba – just because of The Lion King.

Making a mark in a burgeoning industry where equipment required to render in 30fps 1280x720p can’t easily be afforded, isn’t an easy task. And by the time a star-studded animation like “A Kalabanda Ate My Homework”, casting Daniel Omara, Patrick Salvado and Martha Kay is ignored, what of the cartoons by creators who have no fame? Anyway, since we can’t lift our very own, we shouldn’t complain much if foreigners tell our stories in a way that is inaccurate and offensive. But one thing remains for the pulsers, load pulse bundles and watch their amazing work on their YouTube platforms. you will be amazed at how much talent we have as a nation.