Ng’endo Mukii on exploring Kenyan identity through animation

Ng’endo Mukii, who will speak at Design Indaba Conference 2015, looks at 50 years of Kenyan independence through the lens of her family history.

Part of the event

In an exclusive interview with Design Indaba from her studio in Kenya, filmmaker Ng’endo Mukii talks about documenting personal histories through animation.

In her latest work, “50 Steps”, she pays tribute to 50 years of Kenyan independence by looking at personal stories to discover what it means to be Kenyan. Mukii’s film works to capture “the spirit of celebration and also the reality of what has happened to members of my family in this period”. One story illustrates her father learning the new national anthem by hurricane lamp when Kenyan independence was imminent.

Her family members did not want to be filmed, so Mukii again used animation for the characters: “I’m animating them because no-one wants to talk on camera,” she says.

“Documentary animation is really changing Kenyan peoples’ perspective on documentaries”, Mukii says. “You don’t expect it to have animated Kenyan characters talking.”

She initially wanted to be an illustrator and she uses her experience to create hand-drawn animations. She works instinctively, employing trial and error to yield the final result: unusual animations with a distinctive expression.

Mukii’s award-winning film, “Yellow Fever”, made using hand-drawn animation, computer animation, pixilation and live action, delves into the politics of skin, race and the homogenous aspirations of beauty disseminated by the media.

“What I really enjoy is going through a process; sometimes it’s quite tasking. Either your back is hurting or your fingers are getting scraped up with the sandpaper, but then you put it back into the computer and check it out and you can’t have planned the outcome ... That I find really satisfying.

“All my work is based on my own experiences, so they end up influencing what I write and what I’m interested in,” she says.

Ng'endo Mukii will be a speaker at Design Indaba Conference 2015, which takes place from 25 to 27 February 2015. Secure your seat today: Book here.

Watch the Talk with Ng'endo Mukii