Africa’s Mickey Mouse: Ugandan Artists offer alternative visual worlds with local relevance

Graduates from Kampala (Uganda) have created Katoto, a whacky old man from a south-western Ugandan tribe who can be described “as your funny uncle who gets up to mischief”.

The interesting thing about Katoto is that it incorporates local relevancies (e.g. ethnicity, belonging) while at the same time tapping into more global phenomena (e.g. Katoto taking on the “Ice Bucket-Challenge” or trying to take a “Selfie”). Notably, the format of the cartoon takes into account available local media settings; and mobile phones, like in other African countries, are among the probably most widely spread media forms. Considering that, the Katoto-cartoons are relatively short in duration (about 1 minute), so they can be easily shared via WhatsApp [ref]From my own field research in Nairobi (Kenya), I have found that WhatsApp, in the last year or so, has become increasingly popular and started to be used more widely, i.e. not by upper class elites only. [/ref]. There is also a Katoto YouTube-Channel, containing eight videos that have been watched about 133.000 times all-together at the time of writing this post.

Key to the creation of Katoto, according to its creators, are the culture and language of the Ugandan people. Katoto is a chance of a Ugandan self-portrait in an entertaining way. In order to make the strips accessible and convey meaning beyond the local language that Katoto speaks (and one that is also neither understood by all Ugandans nor by all of Katotos creators), the character and jokes are made as physical as possible, being “almost like pantomime”.

Source: “Ugandan dream to create a global cartoon character” (BBC; Clip on YouTube)


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