A scene from the new series “Iwájú.” (Courtesy photo)

In a first-of-its-kind collaboration, Walt Disney Animation Studios teams up with Pan-African entertainment company Kugali, for an original animated series set in a futuristic Lagos, Nigeria.

From the minds of Olufikayo Ziki Adeola (director/writer), Hamid Ibrahim (production designer), and Tolu Olowofoyeku (cultural consultant), “Iwájú” is an exciting coming-of-age story follows Tola, a young girl from the wealthy island, and her best friend Kole, a self-taught tech expert, as they discover the secrets and dangers hidden in their different worlds.

Iwájú means “the future,” and is anticipated to be the most unique series bringing an incredible Afrofuturistic story to life. Kugali filmmakers take viewers on an extraordinary journey into the world of “Iwájú,” bursting with mesmerizing visual elements and technological advancements inspired by the spirit of Lagos.

The series is produced by Disney Animation’s Christina Chen with a screenplay by Adeola and Halima Hudson. Featuring the voices of Simisola Gbadamosi, Dayo Okeniyi, Femi Branch, Siji Soetan and Weruche Opia.

Related Links:

Disney’s Iwaju is a Nigeria animation showing Lagos’ future | Semafor

Walt Disney Animation and Kugali Release Official Trailer for ‘Iwaju’: Disney+ Animated Series That Takes Place in a Futuristic Nigeria – The Source

The three talented men behind the storyline recognize how important authentic representation is in the Black community. From Nigeria to America, being yourself, working hard, and staying focused on your goals helps unlocks true potential and purpose, like the lessons in Iwájú.

When asked what characters they relate to the most in the series, Hamid Ibrahim shared, “Personally it’s almost a combination of Tola and Tunde. Tunde’s character is more of my journey, I can see a reflection of myself and how I work. I empathize with his struggles and it’s something I am working on. Tola is optimistic and is always pushing the envelope of what is there.”

IWÁJÚ – (Pictured, L-R): Olufikayo Ziki Adeola, Toluwalakin Olofoyeku, and Hamid Ibrahim. Photo by Emily Shur. © 2024 Emily Shur. All Rights Reserved.

Director Olufikayo Ziki Adeola believes his personality is a combination of characters from Tola’s need for parental guidance and approval, with Tunde’s work ethic and love for sports, reflects areas in life that the audience can relate to personally or objectively via animation.

Tolu Olowofoyeku takes a more prolific approach with his mantra “dreams don’t turn into dust,” insinuating dreams can come true. Creating relatable characters with genuine backgrounds and stories comes at a perfect time to culminate Black History Month.

With authenticity and creativity at its heart, Kugali is an African-owned and operated storytelling collective spearheading Africa’s modern emergence into the media landscape. Founded in 2017 by Olowofoyeku, Adeola, and Ibrahim with the purpose of taking African stories to the world, Kugali Media has attracted recognition from companies like Disney and the BBC, as well as paved the way for a generation of new African storytellers to find their voices in graphic novels.

Their most notable achievements include record-breaking crowdfunding campaigns, and award-winning graphic novels. Their newest collaboration stemmed from a BBC story where Kugali animators posed a challenge to Disney. Disney reached out to schedule a meeting, and to their surprise, the meeting turned out to be more promising than imagined. Now audiences will have the opportunity to enter the world of Lagos, Nigeria through an inspirational story highlighting the African diaspora.

“Iwájú” is now streaming exclusively on Disney+.