Netflix is adding to its growing slate of African content with its first original animated series, “Mama K’s Team 4,” produced by South Africa’s award-winning Triggerfish Animation Studios and British kids’ and family entertainment production company CAKE.
The series follows four teenage girls living in a futuristic version of Lusaka, Zambia, who are recruited by a retired secret agent to save the world. It was created by Zambian writer Malenga Mulendema, who in 2015 was one of eight winners of the Triggerfish Story Lab, a pan-African talent search backed by the Cape Town-based animation studio and The Walt Disney Co. The series is designed by the Cameroonian artist Malcolm Wope.
In the past decade, Triggerfish has become a powerhouse in South Africa’s burgeoning animation industry. Its first two animated features, “Adventures in Zambezia” (2012) and “Khumba” (2013), are two of the five top-grossing South African movies of all time.
Mulendema said she was inspired by the experience of watching cartoons as a child in her native Zambia, where none of the heroes looked like her or lived in a world that resembled her own. “In creating a superhero show set in Lusaka, I hope to introduce the world to four strong African girls who save the day in their own fun and crazy way,” she said. “Most importantly, I want to illustrate that anyone from anywhere can be a superhero.”
“Mama K’s Team 4” is the latest African original for Netflix, which recently announced its first two dramatic series on the continent. The streamer is now collaborating with Triggerfish and CAKE on a pan-African search for local female writing talent to join the creative team on the series.
“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, vice president of original animation at the streamer. “‘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.”
Triggerfish’s collaborations with the U.K.’s Magic Light Pictures have produced four multi-award-winning BBC Christmas adaptations, including Roald Dahl’s “Revolting Rhymes” (2016), which was nominated for an Oscar and won more than 15 international awards, including an International Emmy. The studio is currently in production on its third animated feature, “Seal Team.”
Vanessa Ann Sinden, Triggerfish’s development producer, said: “After animating four multi-award-winning BBC Christmas specials set in England, including the Oscar-nominated ‘Revolting Rhymes,’ Triggerfish is delighted to bring an African capital city to life on Netflix.”