A while ago, I spoke to Adamu Waziri about Bino and Fino, his educational cartoon aimed at children. In the current market climate that is Nigeria, it is laudable that this young man is not only following his passion but is being ethical about choosing sponsors.
If you have not already seen clips, follow this link to view clips of Bino and Fino on the web. You can also buy DVDs for friends and family (fantastic Christmas gifts).
If you ask me, what I like the most about Bino and Fino is the fact that it is African – we are quickly introduced to Bino and Fino’s extended family – they eat local food, celebrate African holidays and speak with an African accent. Lastly, Bino has a big, bouncy AFRO which she secures together in two buns! My daughter has a DVD and I have gifted children around me with the same, putting my money where my mouth is.
Here’s what Adamu had to say when I asked him a few questions.
When did you absolutely know that this was something that you were going to do?
I would say 2009 was when everything crystallized and I decided to go for it. Up till then Bino and Fino was just an idea which had been bouncing in my head and I was scared to implement. In fact I didn’t even have a name for the show then. I just knew I wanted to do a genuine animated cartoon show for children. I also knew I wanted the production to be done entirely in Nigeria. Beyond that it was just a void. The Bino and Fino show was developed out of that void. Even though it has been tough I am glad I made the decision to pursue this project.
I am sure that you have had some highs and some lows with this project. Please share them with us.
The highs come in different ways. The fact that we were the first to actually produce an educational children’s animation DVD in Nigeria and then bring it to market was a high for me. We had to go through a lot to achieve that. Another high is more important to me. That is the reaction of parents and children to the show. When a parent gets in touch with us to let us know the positive effect the show has had on their kids it gives me more fuel to push ahead past the lows. At the end of the day that is what Bino and Fino is about. Educating and entertaining kids.
The lows are those I’m sure many businesses face in Nigeria. These include lack of funding, infrastructure etc. As we produce a media product we are also susceptible to piracy and other distribution problems. There are also several sponsorship deals we’ve missed out on due to politics within organisations.
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I am going to put you on the spot here. I know that you were considering pursuing sponsorship from a company that will remain nameless (lol!) but you were not sure if you would go with them because you did not necessarily think that their product was a healthy option for children. So this is not just about business for you?
Ha ha thanks for putting me on the spot. Trust me we do want to make money as we are a business not a charity but as Bino and Fino is aimed mainly at children between the ages of 3 and 6 I feel we have a responsibility to them. This includes the kind of sponsorship we receive. If the show was aimed at adults or older children then would be different. If a sponsor is honest about their product and the public know the pros and cons of it then I’m fine with that. Take Coke for instance. We all know it is bad for kids in abundance. Coca Cola doesn’t position Coke as a healthy drink for children. They don’t pretend it is the same as mineral water or orange juice. We all know about the product and its dangers. What I have a problem with is when products that are not healthy for children are marketing themselves as if they are. It is false, dangerous and parents are not getting the right information. I’d rather not be part of that. I don’t know if we will get it right all the time but that is how we intend to proceed and I intend to follow through on that the best I can.
Why is Bino and Fino not on NTA and other local TV channels?
That’s mainly due to how TV stations operate in Nigeria and many other African countries. You have to pay for airtime as opposed to being paid to air your show which is the model in countries like the US. The TV stations here charge for airtime.
That is where the sponsors come in. But they won’t engage until you have a full season which is about 13 episodes. We currently have only 3 episodes. The system is what it is and you have to work with it or around it. We’re doing both. From one angle I can understand why TV stations we’ve approached don’t air the show. But from another angle I don’t get it.
Nigerian TV stations are supposed to show an amount of educational, indigenous content for children. Children love cartoons. At the time of writing Bino and Fino is the ONLY Nigerian educational cartoon show for children. So it makes sense for them to show it. If TV stations in the UK, US and South Africa are willing to screen the show as it is now I don’t know why the Nigerian stations we have approached can’t do the same. But we intend to carry on talking to them to make it happen. In the meantime we’ve started production of a full 26 episode season of the show.
Where are Bino and Fino’s parents? Why do we only see Mama Mama and Papa Papa?
I wanted to introduce Bino and Fino with their grandparents as extended family plays an important role in Nigerian and African culture. It’s very rare to see grandparents playing major characters in kids cartoons. Therefore, we felt it was vital to show them as strong role models that they could follow. As we expand the world of Bino and Fino in the new episodes you will see more of the parents. We’ve already shown them to Bino and Fino fans on Facebook.
In an ideal world, what would you like to see happen for Bino and Fino commercially?
That’s simple. I would like the show to have a similar impact to a show like Sesame Street. I want the Bino and Fino brand to be a powerful global advocate for education and tolerance with elements of African culture at its heart. Education and tolerance are crucial for Nigeria and Africa to truly move forward. I want the Bino and Fino brand to help in that endeavour. We all know how powerful media can be. So why not use it positively to help our kids? I have no idea where the journey will end but it has been interesting so far.
Thank you for answering our question Adamu!