Jabu’s Jungle rooted in community

Jabu’s Jungle is aimed at viewers aged four to seven
Jabu’s Jungle is aimed at viewers aged four to seven

A new animated series called Jabu’s Jungle will propel the adventures of a young boy from Cape Town’s Masiphumelele township and his magic drum to television screens around the continent.

Created at Pixcomm studio on the fringes of Masiphumelele near Kommetjie, Jabu’s Jungle will be aired in 22 African countries, thanks to a new deal with Monster Entertainment in Ireland.

Aimed at viewers aged four to seven, Jabu’s Jungle stars Jabu, a nine-year-old boy who lives in a township.

The show’s producer, Nic Buchanan, said the 13 episodes of 22 minutes each – set to Afro-pop music – would be screened in South Africa by the SABC. Price negotiations with the national broadcaster were in progress.

Primary animation for the series was done by Pascal Nzoni from Kinshasha in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). Nzoni (33) said he was raised in a home where his father, a soldier in the DRC’s army, brought home comic books such as Tintin by Belgian cartoonist Georges Remi and Asterix by René Goscinny of France.

“My family is very creative. All of us could draw. My mother is a good dressmaker and my father, he always bought us comic books. He was a soldier and very artistic.”

Ten years ago, Nzoni moved to Joburg to pursue a career in the arts.

In 2012 he moved to Cape Town, where South Africa’s animation industry is strongest.

He described Jabu’s Jungle as a truly African story, infused with elements such as vuvuzelas, wire cars and meerkats.

“I grew up watching a lot of Japanese animation. I mean, there are few African stories for children.”

He showed City Press how he uses special software to combine a storyboard featuring rough sketches of characters with a script to become the animated footage.

Background animation was done by artist Mluleki Manyase, with help from young apprentices at Masiphumelele High School.

Pixcomm would “take the work and the training to the community” of Masiphumelele, and give “the young artists hands-on, apprentice-style training that allows them to earn money as they learn”, Buchanan said.

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