“Mama K’s Team 4”
In 2014 when Triggerfish Animation Studios’ Story lab put a call out across Africa for animators, Mulendema applied.
“Growing up in Zambia, there were not very many characters [on the screen] looking like me,” she says. “I got interested in writing and thought then I can do something visual.”
The Lusaka native was interested in writing for live-action films and didn’t have an animation background, but when she was chosen for the Cape Town workshop in August 2015, Mulendema planned “something fun” for her pitch.
The result was “Mama K’s Team 4,” about a quartet of African girls who are kickass superheroes. It was one of eight pitches that were developed by the story lab. Netflix will now release the series, which was shown the Annecy Intl. Animated Film Festival in May. It is the streaming platform’s first animated series from Africa.
“Going to Annecy was very exciting,” she says. “It was my first time. Basically I’d been working in Lusaka, so meeting people who have been working in animation their whole lives … telling me about the show was such an experience.”
Mulendema credits the workshop for giving her the appropriate animation training. “I thought I wouldn’t understand, but day by day I have learned,” she says. “It’s a new world I’m entering and daily I am learning something new.”
Mulendema also praises her illustrator, Cameroonian Malcolm Wopea. “Malcolm is super-talented,” she says.
“When I came back from the workshop I was amazed at what people were doing in South Africa. We don’t have an industry per se [in Zambia], but people are very creative … many young people are very talented.”
While she is batting around ideas for her next project, Mulendema is paying it forward by setting up a women’s writing group in Africa for another show. The call for writers brought 600 applications that Triggerfish Animation is sorting through, she says. The workshop will be set up in Lusaka, “and we will go from there.”
— Shalini Dore