African Animation

How Comic Books and Animation Could Save Ghana’s Sanitation Crisis 

Remember back when we associated rainfall with lovemaking and (justified) lateness?

Instead of disorder and death.

Kobina Ankomah-Graham (October 29, 2019)

When it rains in Accra especially, disaster or the threat of it strikes. The biggest culprits are always poor urban planning and plastic-choked gutters.

Ghana is a beautiful place and an equally ugly one. It seems for every step forward in keeping it beautiful, there are multiple steps back enforcing its ugliness. Ghana has a sanitation problem, people litter indiscriminately every day and don’t see anything wrong with it. Massive campaigns and initiatives have rolled out to keep it clean and yet, they remain largely ineffective. 

These campaigns include education and sensitisation of the masses. The few times they’re effective, it seems to only be by a negligible margin. The evidence? Take a stroll to any of Accra’s bus terminals and it won’t be out of place to see people mindlessly littering with plastic.

Adults who should know better are the biggest culprits. A colleague at work recently recounted how someone threw out refuse from his car as he sped on the highway. This is not limited to “uneducated” or “illiterate” people as some may have you think. A colleague of mine during my final year of university for example casually dropped a plastic bag he had just eaten from, on a rather spotless campus. He couldn’t supply a good reason for littering when there were clearly bins around. 

The solution to the menace of littering lies in further education and sensitisation. But as pointed out earlier, it hasn’t exactly worked. That’s probably because the right audience, impressionable kids, are being targeted wrongly. It’s time to take a fresh approach via comic books and animation. 

Comics can be escapist epics, but they can also be engines of education.

Luke Molver

I personally don’t drink coffee nor indulge alcohol thanks to a colourful, illustrated book I read as a child. That book told me about many things that have stuck with me until this day, including littering. Then there was the beloved Captain Planet animated series which introduced many concepts around climate change and the environment way before the school system could catch up. Imagine how many more kids it could have a lasting impression on into their adulthood. 

Cycil Abban shares this same viewpoint and understands how important it is to teach lessons to people at an early stage. This led him to create Mighty Joo with his studio, Parables Animation. Mighty Joo is a superhero comic about an environmental crusader who stands in the way of enemies of the environment. What began as a comic 20 years ago is now making the jump into animation in the form of Mighty Joo, the Animated series. 

The series tackles issues of littering, open defecation, water pollution and the latest to hit Ghana, illegal mining. The menace of illegal mining, known in Ghana as galamsey was covered in the pilot episode of Mighty Joo titled Galamslayed, recently screened at the AnimateGH Animation Festival. Come December the second episode of the series, Floods and Fire will be screened during Parables Animation Studios’ annual Time With Ananse show. 

Global Warning by LOL GH
Global Warning by LOL Gh

This is our planet, we can’t keep destroying it and spending so much effort to fix it again and again. We need time to do other things. It’s up to us, we have the power.

Daniel Coker

Daniel Ebow Coker is another creator who holds the environment dear to his heart and also understands the need to teach the next generation about protecting it. Daniel’s animation and comic studio, LOL GH, recently released Global Warning, an animated short about the effects of pollution and how we can do better.

Speaking passionately about why Global Warning was made and its importance, Daniel says, “We’re doing it for a generation, for our children. They’ll suffer if we don’t take action, the same way we’re suffering now. It’s annoying, we can’t wait until the last minute for someone else to solve this for us. This is our planet, we can’t keep destroying it and spending so much effort to fix it again and again. We need time to do other things. It’s up to us, we have the power.” 

He continues, “this topic is very dear to my heart and I really pushed for this to happen. We as humans like to wait until it’s too late to take action. We need to take action now.” 

Ecosia

Pushing beyond just entertainment, LOL Gh has partnered with Ecosia, the search engine that plants trees to reforest the planet. For every 50 likes/shares of Global Warning across social media, a tree will be planted. 

Comics and animation are visually appealing and have a lasting quality to them that multiple generations can benefit from. They simply need to be made and widely shared. If done right, they can make a lasting impression on kids and adults to produce the kind of impact Ghana and the rest of the world needs to curb obvious sanitation problems.

Comics’ unique combination of text and image make them accessible to a wide spectrum of language, literacy and understanding. They have the potential to teach any subject, to anybody, in any language – or even, without language.

Galamslayed and Global Warning are just two examples of how comics and animation are being used to sensitize the public from an early age. Here’s to hoping more creators join the fight.

Ink Creativity.

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