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Kizazi Moto: Generation Fire

Entry updated 26 February 2024. Tagged: TV.

South Africa/Nigeria/US animated television series (2023). Triggerfish Animation Studios. Executive producer: Peter Ramsey. Voice cast includes Kehinde Bankole, May Elghety, Blair Koono, Gigi Lamayne, Mo Mjamba, Sheila Munyiva, Nasty C, Mandisa Nduna, Pious Nyenyewa, Laith Nakli, Toluwanimi Olaoye, Sechaba Ramphele, Rene Setlhako, Pearl Thusi and Stycie Waweru. Ten 12-13 minute episodes. Colour.

Involving creators from Egypt, Kenya, Nigeria, South Africa, Uganda, and Zimbabwe, this series shows ten varied African futures (see Afrofuturism); the stories are sf or Science Fantasy and reflect the continent's various cultures and history.

Herderboy (directed by Raymond Malinga; written by Raymond Malinga and Mpho Osei Tutu) has a trio of herders – two augmented humans (see Cyborgs) and a Robot – arriving at an oasis in the Chwezi Highlands with their livestock (whose bodies grow a blue crystal energy source): the surrounding area is bleak and ravaged, including futuristic ruins, suggesting a past cataclysm (see Post-Holocaust). Ndahura (Koono), the young brother of one of the herders, drops off a passing drone to announces he wants to be a Hero like them. They dismiss him, but a predator – looking like a corrupted hyena – takes a calf and he gets the chance to prove himself, but also learn a lesson.

Mkhuzi: The Spirit Racer (Simangaliso "Panda" Sibaya and Malcom Wope; Leslie Pulsifer) Soweto, 2066: Manzo (Nasty C) is a half-human, half Alien teenager, and frets his alien half means he is not a real Zulu (see Identity), despite his mother's assurances that parts of him being different does not make him any less Zulu. He gets involved in a high-stakes race (see Games and Sports) against a famous alien racer, with whom – by accepting his own alien half – he manages to tie.

Moremi (Shofela Coker; Shofela Coker and Vanessa Kanu): in the realm of the gods is a City, deserted – save for Monsters, the boy Luo (Olaoye) and a talking bird. Moremi (Bankole), a Scientist, appears and transports him to Nigeria – unfortunately some monsters follow. She tells Luo a story: her country was once attacked by soul stealing giants from another realm (see Dimensions): the gods bestowed a divine energy on a woman, enabling her to first build shields (see Force Field) that kept the monsters out, then a machine to close the door between worlds – this cost her son's soul, but she vowed to rescue him. The monsters attack, but Luo manages to fuse himself with his original body, preserved by Moremi: this act disintegrates the monsters.

Surf Sangoma (Nthato Mokgata and Catherine Green; Nthato Mokgata, Catherine Green and Phumlani Pikoli) 2050 Durban is protected by an immense sea wall (see Climate Change); though surfing is illegal the immense waves lure rogue surfing gangs who have a symbiotic relationship with radioactive octopuses, though it seems not entirely beneficial to the humans (see Parasitism and Symbiosis). Njabulo (Nduna) refuses to surf any more after having lost a family member when young ... until a gang leader drops his friend into the sea.

First Totem Problems (Tshepo Moche; Tshepo Moche) Sheba (Setlhako) goes to be imprinted with her digital totem, which connects her to her past and marks her as an adult (and so be recognized by the Computers that operate her city). Entering a portal, expecting to arrive in the Totem printing room, she is instead greeted with "Welcome to Ancestors Never Die Incorporated" – she is in the Ancestral Plane, a Virtual Reality where the Uploaded consciousnesses of the dead dwell: a result of two of her late relatives squabbling. After dealing with them and the system's bureaucracy she eventually gets her totem.

Mukudzei (Pious Nyenyewa and Tafadzwa Hove; Tafadzwa Hove): in an attempt to gain online fame, shallow Zimbabwean teenager Muku (Nyenyewa) accidentally damages a national monument, triggering a timeline glitch which sends him into a very high-tech (see Technology) "future parallel universe where Great Zimbabwe was never colonized" (see Parallel Worlds, Alternate History). This is explained to him by a young woman, Rumbie (Lamayne), who adds it also has the "most sophisticated justice system in the Multiverse" – which means he is pursued by a giant robot bird: however, it is only trying help him return. He does so, now wiser and joined by Rumbie: also from our world, guilt from an accident that killed her brother meant she could not bear to return until now.

Hatima (Terence Maluleke and Isaac Mogajane; Isaac Mogajane) Nhela (Mjamba), a Scientist, experiments with a mysterious element called Hatima that cures her of a terminal illness, but a side effect turns her into a humanoid fish. Others choose to transform and enter the sea, but are demonized by the land dwellers, and a War begins. This film alternates between that story and a future where a youngster from each side learns the truth and come to a reconciliation.

Stardust (Ahmed Teilab; Ahmed Teilab): an Oracle (Nakli) issues scrolls telling the recipient of their destiny; Nawara (Elghety), a stable girl and a member of the underclass, sneaks into one such ceremony and asks for her own scroll. Despite the protests of the robot master of ceremonies, the Oracle hands one to her – but it is empty. The Oracle leaves the city for the "observatory", where – using a star-shaped object – he creates the scrolls (which are actually a scroll-shaped container). The angry Nawara sneaks aboard his caravan (which is pulled by a Dinosaur) hoping to steal an active scroll, but the vehicle is ambushed. She escapes with the star and is led by the caravan's dinosaur to the observatory, which operates using giant clockwork technology (see Steampunk). The ambushers – who are after the star – arrive, but the Oracle reappears and defeats them. Nawara takes the opportunity to upbraid him for the empty scroll, but he responds it was his scroll ("Now you know how I felt"), pointing out that not knowing your destiny "makes the journey more interesting".

You Give Me Heart (Lesego Vorster; Nonzi Bogatsu): gods are created by the social media gameshow "Who Wants to Be a God" (see Media Landscape). Sundiata (Ramphele) manages, through a fluke, to impress Maadi (Thusi), the Goddess of Plenty who nominates him to become the God of Creativity – but he must get 1 million followers in 24 hours. He does so by exploiting his relationship with Maadi, showing her without her Avatar; she upbraids him for being "so desperate to be seen by people that don't care". He learns his lesson on the value of viral fame.

Enkai (Ng'endo Mukii; Ng'endo Mukii): the goddess (see Gods and Demons) Shiro (Munyiva) fights the exploitation of the Sacred Mountain by mining corporations, with the adjoining city becoming increasing decrepit as the years pass, but she is losing the battle and dying. She tries to keep her daughter, Enkai (Waweru), innocent of this, but on learning the truth Enkai creates a beautiful new world and takes her mother there (see Dimensions): it is up to humanity to save itself. This is the most overtly Fantasy of the shorts, though Shiro's Magic is battling against Technology.

Most of the stories are reasonably optimistic – exceptions being Surf Sangoma's dark tone (including an ominous ending) and Enkai's apparent despairing of humanity (see Optimism and Pessimism). Owing to the short run-times, most plots are either fairly simple or come across as scenes from a larger story, both being a way to show off the world-building: most do this well, though Stardust perhaps omits too much. The exception is Hatima, which has a full story, albeit a little familiar (see Clichés): though good, it is the weakest of the shorts. The stand-outs are Moremi, Mukudzei, Enkai and – despite the aforementioned quibble – Stardust; whilst First Totem Problems and Herderboy are very good. You Give Me Heart, Surf Sangoma and Mkhuzi The Spirit Racer are enjoyable and interesting. The art styles – 3D and 2D – are varied and memorable. Kizazi Moto: Generation Fire was broadcast on Disney+ (see Disney on Television) in July 2023; given the high standard and comparative lack of access to African animation and sf worldwide, this is one of 2023's most important animation releases. [SP]


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