Kugali will work with Walt Disney Animation to bring an original television series to Disney + in 2022
Co-founded by Ziki Nelson, (MA Creative Writing, 2015), Kugali is an entertainment platform where African writers tell African stories using comics, art, animation and virtual reality (VR).
The partnership marks a first-of-its-kind collaboration where Walt Disney Animation will bring Kugali’s original long-form series to streaming service Disney + in 2022.
The series is titled ‘Iwájú,’ which in the West-African Yoruba language, roughly translates to ‘The Future.’
Full details of the show have not yet been released, but Iwájú will be set in a futuristic Lagos and will explore deep themes of class, innocence and challenge the status quo.
Ziki and Kugali have been a member of City’s Islington-based business incubation space, the Launch Lab, since 2016. In the most recent HE-BCI survey from 2018/19 City Launch Lab businesses have generated £13.6m in investment and £8m in revenue.
The Launch Lab ranks second in London and fourth in the UK for startups reaching £1 million in investment.
“This project represents Kugali's biggest achievement thus far and I'm just happy that all the hard work my teammates and I have put into this company has amounted to something so huge”, said Ziki.
“We came onto Disney Animation's radar after being featured on BBC stories, my co-founder, Hamid Ibrahim directly called them out saying we were ‘going to kick Disney’s ass.’
“They say opportunity is where luck meets preparation and my time at the Launch Lab has been key in making sure my team and I always do our best to be prepared,” he concluded.
Speaking to City in 2019, Ziki said he wanted to tell the stories of superheroes from his own culture:
“What is interesting about the world of comic books is our ability to see ourselves in that story or see what we could become.
“You have all these superheroes and there are no superheroes from Africa. The idea that they couldn’t have a hero who represented their own local culture struck me as off.”
Walt Disney Animation Studios' chief creative officer Jennifer Lee said she was “intrigued by Kuagli’s ass-kicking comment.”
"Here were three talented comic book artists. Their dream was to bring African stories created by African artist to the world, highlighting the diversity of cultures, histories and voices across the continent. Their talents as storytellers blew us away," she is quoted as saying in entrainment website Deadline.