Pan African Entertainment Company Kugali Partners Up With Disney Plus To Create ‘Iwájú’


“IWÁJÚ” is all-new original long-form series created in collaboration with Pan-African comic book entertainment company Kugali. Kugali filmmakers Olufikayo Ziki Adeola, Hamid Ibrahim and Tolu Olowofoyeku call the series a love letter to Lagos, Nigeria. Their futuristic depiction is bursting with color, unique visual elements and technological advancements is 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, her best friend Kole, a self-taught tech expert and loving son from the mainland, and Tola’s calculating robotic pet lizard, Otin. “Iwájú” streams on Disney+ in 2024.

The latest series on Disney Plus, Iwájú, serves as a heartfelt homage to growing up in Lagos, Nigeria, infusing Afrofuturism with a unique emphasis on cultural traditions viewed through a scientific lens. The show marks the first-ever collaboration between an African entertainment entity and Walt Disney Animation Studios which marks a historical shift not only for entertainment but the media landscape as a whole.

Entertainment Company Kugali Partners With Disney+ To Create ‘Iwájú’
BESTIES — In a first-of-its-kind collaboration, Walt Disney Animation Studios teams up with Pan-African entertainment company Kugali for “Iwájú”—an original animated series set in a futuristic Lagos, Nigeria. This exciting coming-of-age story follows the persistent and precocious Tola (voice of Simisola Gbadamosi) and her best friend Kole (voice of Siji Soetan), who’s a hardworking tech expert. “Iwájú” streams exclusively on Disney+ Feb. 28, 2024, in a six-episode event. © 2024 Disney. All Rights Reserved.

Olufikayo Ziki Adeola, serving as both director and writer, along with Hamid Ibrahim, contributing as production designer, and Tolu Olowofoyeko, acting as cultural consultant for Iwájú and founders of the creative company Kugali, share connections that extend far beyond the confines of the screen.

“I think I was maybe 11 and Ziki was like nine when we met,” Olowofoyeko tells ESSENCE. “And since then he would tell me stories all the time. And I was drawing comics all the time. So to then go from being those kids who were literally made fun of in class to being geeks and everything to go from that to being the first to do something like this. I think it’s special for me.”

Entertainment Company Kugali Partners With Disney+ To Create ‘Iwájú’
HAPPY BIRTHDAY – Set in futuristic Lagos, Nigeria, “Iwájú” is a coming-of-age story from Walt Disney Animation Studios and Pan-African entertainment company Kugali. Tola (voice of Simisola Gbadamosi) is an inquisitive 10-year-old girl who refuses to accept the world for the way it is and prefers to see it for how it should be. On her 10th birthday, Tola visits the mainland for the first time and also receives a surprising birthday gift from her father. “Iwájú” streams exclusively on Disney+ beginning Feb. 28, 2024, in a six-episode event. © 2024 Disney. All Rights Reserved.

Iwájú takes us along the journeys of Tola and Kole as they discover the beauties and dangers of the land set in a futuristic Lagos, Nigeria. The series follows the themes of class, innocence and challenges. The series inspires young children to embrace curiosity and pursue their aspirations with determination.

These visionaries are reshaping the definition of success within their culture, demonstrating to the global audience the profound significance of the Nigerian entertainment industry, often referred to as Nollywood. “I think that it will add a lot of credibility to the talent that Africa has and open the eyes of the world to what Africans can do, so that is the biggest thing it can do here,” says Ibrahim.

Entertainment Company Kugali Partners With Disney+ To Create ‘Iwájú’
MEET TOLA – Set in futuristic Lagos, Nigeria, “Iwájú” is a coming-of-age story from Walt Disney Animation Studios and Pan-African entertainment company Kugali. Tola (voice of Simisola Gbadamosi) is a curious and opinionated girl who’s eager to learn more about the world around her. Kugali filmmakers Olufikayo Ziki Adeola, Hamid Ibrahim and Toluwalakin Olowofoyeku take viewers on a unique journey into the world of “Iwájú,” bursting with unique visual elements and technological advancements inspired by the spirit of Lagos. Produced by Disney Animation’s Christina Chen, and written by Adeola and Halima Hudson, “Iwájú” streams exclusively on Disney+ Feb. 28, 2024, in a six-episode event. © 2024 Disney. All Rights Reserved.

Collectively, they are opening up avenues for young children to not only identify with the characters portrayed in the show but also to contemplate unconventional career paths. Adeola highlights that in Nigeria, his parents’ generation generally tends to view traditional career paths like banking, accounting, medicine, and engineering as the only esteemed choices, neglecting the potential value of jobs in the creative field.

When it comes to representation Adeola’s initial thoughts revolve around, “all the messages I’ve received from parents and young people telling me, or thanking me for the work I did on this show because they have interests in animation or storytelling or adjacent creative ventures,” he says.

Entertainment Company Kugali Partners With Disney+ To Create ‘Iwájú’
BEST FRIENDS — In a first-of-its-kind collaboration, Walt Disney Animation Studios teams up with Pan-African entertainment company Kugali for “Iwájú”—an original animated series set in a futuristic Lagos, Nigeria. This exciting coming-of-age story follows Tola (voice of Simisola Gbadamosi) and her best friend Kole (voice of Siji Soetan). Kugali filmmakers Olufikayo Ziki Adeola, Hamid Ibrahim and Toluwalakin Olowofoyeku take viewers on a unique journey into the world of “Iwájú,” bursting with unique visual elements and technological advancements inspired by the spirit of Lagos. Produced by Disney Animation’s Christina Chen, and written by Adeola and Halima Hudson, “Iwájú” streams exclusively on Disney+ Feb. 28, 2024, in a six-episode event. © 2024 Disney. All Rights Reserved.

Conversely, they are also influencing representation by presenting Nigerian culture and its intricate histories through firsthand accounts. Not only to educate outside of the African context but also within it. Adeola explains, “We went through phases where we underwent something known as a colonial mentality and didn’t really believe in our culture.” He hopes that Nigerians no longer dilute their culture and instead stand with pride when showcasing it to the rest of the world.

Stream all six episodes of ‘Iwájú’ on Disney Plus.





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