Among the shows and movies talked about at D23 Expo earlier this month was the previously announced Pan-African animated series, Iwájú. The series marks a major first for Disney as its setting is not only new for the company but it's also their first collaboration with an outside animation studio for Disney+. To create the series Disney is working entertainment company Kugali. Kugali filmmakers Olufikayo Ziki Adeola, Hamid Ibrahim and Tolu Olowofoyeku are a central part of the story which is described as being a "futuristic depiction" of the African nations. You can check out the first look photo from the series below.
According to a press release Iwájú is set in a world bursting with color, unique visual elements and technological advancements inspired by the spirit of Lagos, which is physically divided into an island and a mainland separated by both water and socio-economic status. The coming-of-age story introduces Tola, a young heiress from the wealthy island, and her best friend Kole, a self-taught tech expert and loving son from the mainland.
"Back in the beginning of 2019, I saw a news piece about a group of storytellers form NIgeria and Uganda," Disney Animation CCO Jennifer Lee previously said about the series. "The title of this video was 'Pan-African Comic Book Hopes to Kick Disney's...' you know what. I was intrigued. Here were three talented comic book artists, Tolu Olowofoyeku, Ziki Nelson, and Hamid Ibrahim, founded an entertainment company called Kugali. Their dream was to bring African stories, created by African artists to the world through comics and animation, highlighting the diversity of cultures, history, and voices across the continent. Their talents as storytellers blew us away. I'm proud to announce a first of its kind collaboration, as Kugali and Disney Animation team up to bring their original long-form series to Disney+."
Iwájú is set to launch on Disney+ in 2023. The series was one of several new animation projects that made it into the spotlight at D23 including the upcoming Zootopia+ anthology series, the upcoming Strange World feature film, and the just announced Wish, scheduled for a Fall 2023 premiere.