In 2012, Ghanaians were thrilled to see a homemade film about a popular children’s game, Chaskele. Even better, Chaskele was an animated film. There aren’t many animated projects from Ghana and the reception of the film at that time spoke volumes about the desire by many to see stories that were true to home and a classic blast from the past.
Chaskele is an old Ghanaian childhood game that’s a cross between, or perhaps, a predecessor to, baseball and golf. The game is played with a stick, a bucket
Chaskele, the animation, however, was more. It was a movement, a call to arms for the nerds who loved the game, for nostalgic old souls and people who loved “cartoons” and animation even more. Chaskele, the film, was a welcome re-imagination of an otherwise straightforward game that added subtle complexities such as some awesome Adinkra symbologies within a very modern context.
But alas, the film (above) was only a final school project by Bertil Toby Svanekiaer, then a student at the acclaimed National Film and Television Institute (NAFTI) in Ghana. Chaskele was the cute little baby that made it into the world but refused to cry, refused to look into its mother’s proud eyes and burp “mama I made it”.
7 years down the line however, it seems Chaskele is ready to cry. On his social media, creator Bertil Toby Svanekiaer has teased some behind the scenes footage which when complete, will be an incredible leap from what we first saw – akin to Iron Man’s upgrade from his Mark 47 suit to the Mark 50 that made Thanos bleed!
Not only does the animation look better,
It’s important to note that, many strides have been made in not just Bertil’s, but Ghanaian animation generally since Chaskele. However, this progress has been centered around humorous skits and music videos ( of which Poka is the undisputed king). Within that time, Bertil has gone on to create a few more animated projects and bag some awards too.
He has collaborated with Poka and co-founded Indigene B.R.O.S., an Accra based creative studio. The studio is responsible for Azumah Nelson’s (a legendary Ghanaian boxer) animated biopic which was screened for the first time at the Encounters Film Festival courtesy the Accra Animation Film Festival. Bertil was also largely responsible for the animated video for Jayso’s Have A Party song.
If realized, Chaskele would be one of the only films that glorify the Ghanaian childhood game, much like what Afrogames from Burkina Faso attempted. In keeping true to the mantra, the journey of a thousand miles starts with a step, the Bertil Toby Svanekiaer’s “upcoming” Chaskele film is championing a fresh take on animated storytelling in Ghana.
Here’s to hoping the Chaskele teasers aren’t just a gimmick and it is in fact, actualized. Too many African stories are waiting to be told and animation is just the perfect medium to tell them.
Cheers to African animation.
See below for some rendering tests and wallpaper for the upcoming Chaskele film.
Kadi Yao Tay
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