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Iwaju Premieres on 28th February on Disney Plus.
Iwaju Premieres on 28th February on Disney Plus.
Iwaju Premieres on 28th February on Disney Plus.

The long-awaited animated series, Iwaju, produced by the British animation company Kugali and Disney Animation Studios, has finally received a release date. The six-part animation series, set in Lagos, was initially announced in 2021, with a projected release date around 2022. However, it was later postponed to an unknown time in 2023. Yesterday, Disney announced that the animated series would premiere on Disney Plus on February 28, 2024. The story of Iwaju follows Tola, a young girl from a wealthy island, and her best friend, Kole, a self-taught tech expert, as they discover the secrets and dangers hidden in their respective worlds.

Courtesy Photo. Disney Animations

The series is directed by Olufikayo Ziki Adeola, also known as Ziki Nelson, with Hamid Ibrahim serving as the production designer and Toluwalakin Olowofoyeku as the cultural consultant, ensuring the story and the series adhere to the authentic life of Lagos. The series is produced by Disney Animation’s Christina Chen, and the screenplay is crafted by Adeola and Halima Hudson.

Notable cast members include Nigerian-American actor Dayo Okeniyi, renowned for his roles in The Hunger GamesHypnoticTerminator, and more. Joining him are Nigerian veteran actor, director, and producer Femi Branch, as well as British-Nigerian actress Weruche Opia, best known for her role in I May Destroy You, for which she received a nomination for a British Academy Television Award. Other cast members include Siji Soetan and Simisola Gbadamosi.

The series will premiere concurrently with a documentary on the making of the series, shot on three different continents by ABC News Studios and supported by Walt Disney Studios. Titled "Iwájú: A Day Ahead," the documentary delves into the intricacies of the production of Iwaju and provides profound insights into the lives of the founders of Kugali Media as they navigate the challenges of creating significant animation series as new entrants in the industry. The Documentary is directed by Megan Harding and executive produced by Amy Astley and Beth Hoppe.

Courtesy Photo: Disney Animation

The Background.

The series would not have happened if it weren't for the three founders of Kugali Media, who initially established it as a media company with a podcast. In these podcasts, they occasionally discussed the need for an African approach to storytelling, focusing extensively on the animation and comics landscape in Africa and its apparent void. Eventually, they made the pivotal decision to assemble a team to create animations tailored for an African audience, giving birth to Iwaju. Originally conceived as a series of shorts, it later transformed into a long-form content series when Disney entered the scene.

Disney discovered Iwaju when the CEO of Disney Animation Studios, Jennifer Lee, came across a BBC story that reported Kugali's intention to challenge Disney. Intrigued, she reached out to Kugali and was impressed by the Iwaju story.

About Kugali.

Kugali is an African-owned and operated storytelling company based in the UK, founded in 2017 by two Nigerians, Tolu Olowofoyeku and Olufikayo Adeola, along with a Ugandan, Hamid Ibrahim. The company was established with the mission of bringing African stories to a global audience. Among their most notable achievements are record-breaking crowdfunding campaigns, multiple award-winning graphic novels, and their upcoming Disney+ series, "Iwájú," created in collaboration with Disney Animation.

For the lovers of animation, this is something to look forward to. 

By Martin Kabagambe

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