Explore futuristic worlds, aliens, spirits, and more, as visionary artists from across the continent share their stories in Kizazi Moto: Generation Fire — a groundbreaking anthology of animated shorts created for Disney+ that celebrates great African storytelling
By Garreth van Nierkerk
Earlier this year Disney+ unveiled a groundbreaking ten-part anthology of animated short films entitled Kizazi Moto: Generation Fire – an extraordinarily rich and complex homage to the continent’s mythological and artistic heritage. Since debuting on the streaming platform in July 2023, the series has gone on to become a cult favourite among the platform’s viewership, with critics like The Verge describing it as ’Afrofuturism, done right’.
The series is a masterpiece of collaboration, crafted by a diverse team of visionary artists and storytellers hailing from across the continent, with the brightest names from Egypt, Kenya, Nigeria, South Africa, Uganda, and Zimbabwe all contributing to the immense undertaking.
Each short film in the anthology transcends the boundaries of traditional storytelling, ushering viewers into brave new worlds filled with advanced technology, enigmatic aliens, mystical spirits, and formidable monsters. It’s a captivating journey into Africa’s future, offering fresh perspectives on the continent’s boundless creativity.
The creative minds behind this anthology draw inspiration from Africa’s intricate history and cultural tapestry. The result is a compelling blend of sci-fi and fantasy narratives, each with a unique perspective and message. It’s a celebration of Africa’s resilience, creativity, and the power of storytelling.
This anthology’s creation was a collaborative effort that drew inspiration from Africa’s vibrant culture and history. As Anthony Silverston, Creative Director at Triggerfish Animation Studios, the lead studio behind the anthology, aptly puts it, “It’s very exciting to see all of these different representations of characters and worlds from Africa on screen, because there really have been so few instances before this.”
As we delve into this anthology, we discover tales that resonate with universal themes, like Mkhuzi: The Spirit Racer where Manzo grapples with his identity, animating a series of themes about identity in Africa that celebrates the fusion of tradition and modernity. Manzo is a half-human, half-alien teenager who dreams of becoming a superstar racer like his mother, the legendary masked racer Mkhuzi.
Simangaliso “Panda” Sibaya, one of the directors, shared his perspective: “We wanted to create a story that not only entertains but also celebrates the strength and determination of a young protagonist, Nawara.” Malcolm Wope, co-director of this episode, emphasised the cultural significance of the story: “Our aim was to blend the richness of Zulu heritage with futuristic elements to create a unique and engaging story.”
Hatima explores themes of conflict and reconciliation, echoing Africa’s rich history of resilience. In the story two nations are locked in an endless war, as an underwater tribe battles a kingdom on land. Terence Maluleke, the director of Hatima, reflected on the project: “Our film delves into the complexities of two nations at odds, mirroring historical events while delivering a powerful message of unity.”
Enkai takes us into the cosmos, reminding us of our responsibility to protect our planet. Floating through the universe in her gourd-shaped home, young Enkai just wants to spend time with her single mother, Shiro, a cosmic deity who works all the time in the stressful and demanding job of saving the Earth from man-made destruction. Isaac Mogajane, co-director of Enkai shared that he wanted to showcase the urgency of environmental preservation through the lens of a young girl’s journey.
Kizazi Moto: Generation Fire is more than just an anthology; it’s a celebration of Africa and its potential for a bright future. It’s a testament to the creative fire that burns within Africa’s storytellers, inviting the world to see Africa’s stories through a new lens. It promises to ignite our imaginations, spark conversations, and celebrate the resilience and creativity that define Africa. And since its release on Disney+, it’s proven that audiences worldwide are captivated by great African storytelling and that our creators can compete, and often outshine, their global counterparts.