Ng’endo Mukii: Challenging the ideals of beauty

Kenyan filmmaker breaks the mould of African stereotypes using animation, storytelling, and movement.

“In Kenya, we’re always fighting over land,” says filmmaker Ng’endo Mukii. In her latest work, SOS Kofi Annan, the animator draws comparisons between the politics of a Kenyan family and the politics of Kenya as a nation.

Playfully, Mukii uses the animated documentary to describe the observation that Kenya “goes a little crazy” sometimes. The country often calls on international leaders to set it back on a peaceful path in the way that Ghanaian diplomat Kofi Annan has done in the past. 

“My grandmother is about 80-something and she has land. In Kenya we’re always fighting over land,” says Mukii. “I’m foreseeing that in the future, my family is going to go a little crazy because my grandmother won’t be there anymore.”

“So I’m hoping Kofi Annan will come and sit with us in our family,” adds Mukii jokingly.

Mukii has used animation to delve into complex issues in the past. Her portfolio includes advertising campaigns, experimental work, and music videos, but she is best known for her short film Yellow Fever.

Using animation and movement, she tackles the western ideal of beauty that still influences the way formerly colonised populations see themselves.

“Being an African has a very stereotypical image and I’m trying to find ways to break this and allow us to be more of whatever we want to be,” she says.