Nigerian animator connects children to culture in popular new cartoon, “Bino and Fino”

So much of who we are is based on images presented to us from an early age. Whether it’s through television or literature, children are shaped by the media they consume. The scenes of our youth become the foundation of our self-perception through adulthood. Psychotherapist, Dr. Dwayne Buckingham says that it’s very important for children to have a strong sense of who they are in the early stages of their childhood.

“Children have to navigate through the challenges of life with a strong self-perception, it empowers them through their development and helps them excel through the obstacles of life,” said Buckingham.

For many children of color, there seems to be a deficiency of characters that they can identify with. Fortunately, there are a few programs that equip children with the esteem and positive reinforcements required to maintain a sense of worth. One show in particular is “Bino and Fino,” created by Nigerian animator, Adamu Waziri.

The “Bino and Fino” show is a light-hearted animation targeted for kids ages three to six. The program is centered on a brother and sister who live in a modern day city in sub- Saharan Africa with their family and grand-parents. In each episode, “Bino and Fino”, along with their friend Zeena, the Magic Butterfly, discover fascinating things about the world.

The show infuses African history, culture and language into basic learning themes. According to Waziri, “There is a hunger for such programs and parents feel let down by major broadcasters in this regard. All of the children’s cartoons where I’m from are imported. Plus none of them showed any characters that look like us. The older I became – the more I noticed it in other African countries. This is very damaging for children. “Diversity matters,” he added.

Three year old, London Blake from St. Louis, Missouri watches” Bino and Fino” on YouTube. Blake said “I like “Bino and Fino” because I learn new things when they go on adventures but I really love Fino because she looks like me and her hair is like mine.”

Waziri says that it is important to have characters in programming that children, like Blake, can find commonalities with. Dr. Buckingham adds that, “It is imperative and crucial to have programs that add value to young children’s lives and helps them see the best in themselves. It’s also critical that children are exposed to diversity at an early age,” said Buckingham. Waziri’s goal is to simply bring balance to animation. He pushes the envelope to defy the manipulative and negative stereotypes that are often associated with Africa, while making sure that all children are accurately represented in the cartoons that will shape their future.

“Bino and Fino” will launch the second series of their DVD in early 2015. Parents can sign up for DVD two and a special holiday edition that would be the perfect for the season. To view previous episodes please visit:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h1mOSKJ7ThI OR visit www.binoandfino.com

-Abesi Manyando