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Netflix’s first original African animated series premiered on Thursday in a debut its creator said she hoped would pave the way for more productions from the motherland.
Set in a futuristic version of Lusaka, the capital of Zambia, “Supa Team 4” tells the story of four teen girls who turn undercover superheroes after being recruited by a retired secret agent to save the world.
“I’m excited that the world finally gets to see the fantastic show that the incredibly talented super team, from Africa and beyond, have put together,” Zambian writer Malenga Mulendema told AFP in a statement.
“We hope ‘Supa Team 4’… will lead to further investment and collaboration so we can continue to grow the industry,” said Mulendema.
CBS News reports Mulendema created the series after pitching it at a pan-African talent search by animation studio Triggerfish, where she became one of the winners in 2015.
“Finally, we have our own thing, something on Netflix, which is Zambia’s first,” Zambian media personality Thandiwe Zulu-Vundamina tells Germany’s Deutsche Welle.
“It is something special for Zambians. Not just the kiddies, but every Zambian, because it’s part of us and we’re proud,” she added.
When the show was first announced in 2019, Mulendema said she set the story in her home country to “illustrate that anyone from anywhere can be a superhero”.
“(Animation) series shaped our childhoods and to know young Zambians get to see what they’ve never seen on TV before is Amazing!!” Zambian singer Sampa the Great, who worked on the theme song, wrote on Instagram this month.
In April, Netflix said it planned to expand operations in Africa and give “more African storytellers an amplified voice on the global stage”.
Triggerfish is arguably Africa’s most successful animation studio.
The firm behind “Supa Team 4” is South African animation studio Triggerfish, which has made a name for itself producing award-winning animation feature films and working with Disney Plus, Netflix and the BBC.
In an email, Triggerfish CEO Stuart Forrest told Deutsche Welle, “We hope ‘Supa Team 4’ will have the effect of showing Africa (and the world) the delightful richness of telling stories that are grounded in a specific African culture, in this case, a Zambian culture with a pan-African nod.”