Kenya takes popular Tinga Tinga Tales show to U.S.


Eddy Kimani who plays Lion in Tinga Tinga Tales. Photo/REUTERS
Eddy Kimani (left) who plays Lion and Eric Wainaina (right) in Tinga Tinga Tales. Photo/REUTERS

In Summary

  • The team will perform for two weeks in October at New Victory Theatre, an off-Broadway theatre for children.
  • The cartoon, named after a colourful Tanzanian art-style, was first commissioned by Britain’s public broadcaster, the BBC.
  • It takes musical inspiration from gospel, funk and hiphop — genres rooted in the United States.

Feathery costumes and East African instruments are packed into boxes, ready for shipping as Kenya prepares to take its popular children’s show Tinga Tinga Tales to New York.

The cartoon by multiple BAFTA award-winner Claudia Lloyd and Kenyan singer-songwriter Eric Wainaina features local children’s fables.

“I’m thrilled to be able to give back to an audience that I’ve borrowed so much from,” said Wainaina, who is the show’s composer, music director and also plays the lead character Monkey.

It explains questions from the animal kingdom, such as why the giraffe’s neck is long and how the chameleon got its colors.

The 2016 musical adaption is brought to life by a breakdancing Rastafari tortoise, a soul singing hippopotamus and a jazz savvy elephant.

Tinga Tinga Tales takes musical inspiration from gospel, funk and hiphop — genres rooted in the United States.

“We all borrow from each other and I’m really happy to go and show this African manifestation of all this music that I’ve been listening to.”

The cartoon, named after a colourful Tanzanian art-style, was first commissioned by Britain’s public broadcaster, the BBC.

Lloyd said she was excited to bring East African children’s tales, visual arts and music tradition to the United States.

The Tinga Tinga Tales team will perform for two weeks in October at New Victory Theatre, an off-Broadway theatre for children.

She said the show had the potential to reach a much broader audience than the one it has so far entertained with full theatres in the Kenyan capital.

“When they all get up and scream and shout, that’s why we are doing this,” said Lloyd, adding she still tears up with joy when she sees families or school classes engage in the tale and move to the beats.

“There’s no reason why this couldn’t tour around the world. I would love it to go to pan-African capital cities and spread the Tinga-love a bit.”

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Story By Reuters
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