Tinga Tinga Tales is a Kenyan-British 52 episodes children's series based on African folk tales and aimed at 4- to 6-year olds. It was commissioned by the BBC for its CBeebies channel, and by Disney for its Disney Junior. Named after the Tinga Tinga art from Tanzania, it was made in Kenya by a studio of about 50 people. (Source: Wikipedia)
Edward Tingatinga with his wife
The Children of Edward Tingatinga are also members of Tinga Tinga Cooperative established in order to produce and market products under the trade name Tinga Tinga
The involvement of TACS
TACS (The Tinga Tinga Arts Co-operative Society Ltd.) was registered in 1990 in Tanzania by the Tinga Tinga family. It was Edward Saidi Tingatinga who started to paint in 1968 and later accepted 6 relatives as apprentices. After his sudden death the group of painters expanded and formed Tinga Tinga Partnership which was predecessor to TACS.
The family of craftsmen created unique designs which they applied on a broad range of products – paintings, trays, mugs, T-shirts, toys, pencils, bracelets etc. They decided to market the products under the trade name “Tinga Tinga”, as a respect for the grounder of the family business – Edward Tingatinga. Today the Tinga Tinga brand is mostly popular in Europe and Asia, especially Japan.
The reason for involving Tinga Tinga Cooperative was to assist Tiger Aspect to select a number of skilled artists for the animation production. In addition a contract was signed with TACS to grant exclusive and royalty free license to exploit the title "Tinga Tinga" which is now used by multinational media companies such as Walt Disney, Penguin (books), Bandai (toys), Ravensburger (puzzles) and others.
Claudia Lloyd at Tinga Tinga Cooperative posing with a painting of Rubuni. Later both the design of the antelope and the giraffe were used in Tinga Tinga Tales.
The inspiration for the Tinga Tinga Tales comes from Tinga Tinga art of Tanzania and the African folk tales. When Claudia Lloyd, the head of Children Animation Department at Tiger Aspect Productions, visited Zanzibar International Filmfestival ZIFF, she noticed the Tinga Tinga paintings sold on the streets of the Old Town. She loved them. It was between 2002 and 2005.
Claudia Lloyd says her inspiration for the show came from her travels in east Africa, where she learned Swahili by reading children's books.(Variety, Oct.23, 2009). It seems that Claudia´s interest in the African folk tales and the love of Tinga Tinga art gave birth to Tinga Tinga Tales. Claudia Lloyd pioneered one of the most ambitious projects putting Africa on the world map. She gave the world wide exposure to African culture and children from around the globe a chance to enjoy African stories and wisdom. She set up a notable animation studio in East Africa giving chance to a great number of talented people to succeed in carriers.
Hasani Kamale with his wife who is sister to Kaspar Tedo, student of E.Tingatinga
In September two Tinga Tinga painters - John Kilaka and Hasani Kamale - were contacted by Tiger Aspect Production and invited to Nairobi, Kenya in order to participate on a pilot project. The project was called "The Africa Project" - a preschool animation development project based on African folk tales. The Tinga Tinga painters illustrated the tale "Why the Tortoise Has a Broken Shell" at HomeBoyz Entertainment Studio. The succes of the pilot project convinced the investors to produce the new children animation series of 52 films called "Tinga Tinga Tales".
There then followed 18 months when Lloyd took the pilot and pitched to major potential backers around the world. BBC childrens' channel CBeebies agree to put up 25% of the money and Disney Playhouse in America 6%. (AllAfrica.com) In August 2008 Tiger Aspect returned to Kenya - now with 5 Tinga Tinga painters (John Kilaka, Mbwana Sudi, Abasi Rafiki, Zachi Chimwanda and Maulana Saidi) to produce illustrations for "Tinga Tinga Tales" at Homeboyz Radio.
John Kilaka at HomeBoyz Studio
The animation studio was set up in Nairobi in the HomeBoyz Radio. With start-up capital of Kenya Shillings 40,000 (in today’s exchange rate circa £300 GBP) obtained through personal savings, the group [of three brothers] initially rented equipment from other suppliers in order to entertain at events such as small house parties or weddings. (www.cabinetforum.org)
The story of the rise of Homeboyz from a mere dream by three brothers ” Mike, John and Alph Rabar” has been told time and time again....the group has [now] 12 companies, including the Homeboyz DJ School, Homeboyz Music Technology Academy, Homeboyz Activate and HP TV that produces commercials, Homeboyz Animate Company, Homeboyz Soundtrax, Homeboyz Events, the now famous Homeboyz Radio and Homeboyz Power Radio” a gospel station they launched recently.(www.zuqka.com)
Mbwana Sudi is the previous Chairman of TACS
In June 2008 three identical contracts in English, Kiswahili and English-Kiswahili (no member speak fluently English) were signed with the Tinga Tinga Cooperative (TACS) to license the title "Tinga Tinga" to one of the biggest UK film production companies. A sum of 30.000.000 Tsh (ca $24.000) was paid to the Cooperative in four instalments.
The first instalment of ca $6000 was paid cash in the Cooperative´s office. Since the leadership of TACS did not realize the importance of the contract, they never called a meeting of members of TACS nor entrusted any proffesional lawyer to analyze the contract before signing. Though according to the contract Tiger Aspect was granted irrevocable exclusive royalty-free license to use and otherwise exploit the title “Tinga Tinga” in connection with the exploitation of the programs, Tiger Aspect´s view is that the payment was not for the license but only for services provided by TACS within the project. In addition Tiger Aspect got the right "to assign the benefit of the agreement to any other person".Today Classic Media, BBC, Walt Disney, Penguin, Bandai and a many of television networks airs the children tales using the name "Tinga Tinga" and market the products under trade name "Tinga Tinga" or "Tinga Tinga Tales" (source: Wikipedia)
Maulana with his wife at his room. He is the creator of the main character in Tinga Tinga Tales - the narrator Monkey
Tinga Tinga painters from Tanzania hand painted the designs for Tinga Tinga Tales before they proceeded to be laid out and animated within the production process. Since the Studio was situated in Nairobi the painters relocated to Kenya. Abassi Rafiki and Zachi Chimwanda painted in Nairobi for more than 2 years and John Kilaka stayed with Tiger Aspect for 8 months. The previous Chairman Mbwana Sudi was involved for three months as well as a young Tinga Tinga painter Saidi Maulana. Though he worked for Tiger Aspect for a very short period, he collaborated with the team of illustrators to help design and colour the Monkey character in Tinga Tinga Tales.
Though neither TACS nor Tinga Tinga painters are credited in the books and many other products, the books acknowledge that the look and feel of the series is inspired by the original Tingatinga artwork of Tanzania. The hand-painted illustrations were also referred to by Richard Jeffrey, Animation director on the series who says: "Everything is hand-painted, from the backgrounds to all the animal parts, to the tiniest insects.“