A Nigerian film company is gaining global attention by producing award-winning 3D animation titles made from an African perspective.

TransTales Entertainment was started in 2005 on a budget of less than 5 000 dollars by Nigerians Segun Williams and Obinna Onwuekwe, and is the first film company to produce African themed 3D animation films to fill the void in animation with myriads of authentic African stories.

The titles produced by TransTales are widely acclaimed by industry experts and the animated series “Mark of Uru” recently won the United Nations World Summit Award for the use of technology to promote African culture. The UN praised the series for its combination of digital expertise with local folk story, imagery and culture.

African accents
“Mark of Uru” is written and directed by Obinna Owuekwe and produced by Segun Williams. Owuekwe also lends his voice to two of the characters: The Warrior and Isi Agu. The costumes and makeup are authentically African and the series has a woman empowerment theme embedded in it. The voices also feature varied accents, mostly Igbo and Efik from West Africa.

According to TransTales, very few countries rival the diversity of Nigeria across the world; with 250 ethnic groups, 500 languages and a population of over 160 million. “Such diversity brings with it unique experiences and stories that need telling. While Nigerians have explored film, music, arts and literature to tell their stories, animation has been absent; but this is about to change.”

Mystery birthmark
In “Mark of Uru”, Azuka is a girl born with a birthmark identical to the tattoo of a sinister sorceress Uru, who died long ago. Despite her mother’s effort to conceal the birthmark, it is eventually discovered, and the annihilation of the child becomes imminent, in order to protect her people from the curse of Uru. The intervention of the earthbound elemental spirit Isi-Agu and his protégé Etido forestalls Azuka’s execution.

She is taken to a sacred mountain well beyond the reach family, friends and foes. The moment she grows into a woman under the protection of Isi-Agu and Etido, the news of her survival sparks a deadly manhunt initiated by people bent on her annihilation. With the assistance of a band of outcasts, she embarks on a gruelling journey, through the most treacherous terrains to unravel the mystery behind her bizarre birthmark.