Chinese media giant to screen cartoons to disadvantaged pupils

News Agency of Nigeria Editor-in-Chief Uzo Silas Nwoha (third right), China Media Group Acting Bureau Chief Africa Song Jianing (right) and Kenya Editors Guild President Zubeidah Kananu (fourth right) with other guests during the Twinkle Star launch at the University of Nairobi on Wednesday, December 13, 2023. [Boniface Okendo, Standard]

China Media Group (CMG) will continue screening its animation videos to disadvantaged Kenyan pupils.

CMG owns China Global Television Network (CGTN), China National Radio, and China Radio International.

The announcement comes at a time when China and Kenya are celebrating 60 years of diplomatic relations.

"With the joint efforts of CMG Africa and its partners, the Twinkle Star Project is a testimonial to our deep friendship with Kenya," said Song Jianing, acting Bureau Chief of China Media Group Africa.

She added: “The project will go on without a stop thanks to the success it has brought considering it was initially to be one year. Once we visit many schools in Kenya, we shall then move out to neighbouring countries where our journalists are based.”

Ms Jianing was speaking on Wednesday evening at Dr Manu Chandaria Hall at the University of Nairobi during a special ceremony.

She also called upon Kenyan media to partner with CMG to help them reach more children with animation tours.

A documentary on the Twinkle Star project and The China Africa Children’s Painting Contest were showcased.   

Since the launch in June 2023, the Twinkle Star Project has reached six schools and 2,000 children.

Schools visited include Matulani, Lusigettti, Nachu, Children’s Garden Home and School, SOS Children’s Villages Kenya and KEDA DBSA School.

“It’s our hope that through the screening of our animations, our children may see a world beyond where they live. Through the artworks, children in China and Africa can understand each other and sow the seeds of friendship,” said Ms  Jianing.

Kenya Editors Guild President Zubeidah Kananu said just as the two nations have united to build bridges and roads, the "Twinkle Star Project" has metaphorically built bridges of cultural exchange. 

She said the economic ties showcased in the animation tour echo the spirit of bilateral trade agreements.

"The project not only entertains but also serves as an investment in shared cultural experiences, fostering a deeper understanding of our respective traditions and narratives," said Ms Kananu.

Kananu said the project is an embodiment of educational outreach and cultural exchange since it extends a hand of creativity and storytelling, inviting students to engage with the rich tapestry of Chinese animation, thereby fostering cross-cultural understanding and appreciation.

Through it, Kananu said, Kenya will witness a transfer of artistic and creative technology advancement to Africa from China since the project introduces new dimensions and possibilities in storytelling and animation.

Silas Nwoha, editor-in-chief of News Agency of Nigeria, thanked CMG for bringing a different kind of engagement with Africa through such Twinkle Star Project.

“For over 500 years, Africa has never had such experience. China has taken it upon itself to open new frontiers of friendship, partnership and development and Africa will never forget this,” said Nwoha.

He challenged the CMG to translate the cartoons into local languages to benefit children in rural areas, who may not be able to understand English.

“I also challenge you to find a way of teaching Mandarin in Africa, already two Nigerian universities are offering the language as a course,” he said.

Moses Ndung’u, director of Garden Children Home and School in Kawangware, said the inspiring stories and tales in the form of animated cartoons are quite captivating to young minds as a way of encouraging African children to explore their own creativity.

"This will no doubt go a long way in inspiring the current and future generations of African children by recognising their potential as the driving force behind a prosperous nation,” said Ndung’u.

He added: “Indeed our African children should be greatly encouraged to use art to express themselves on social issues with a focus on building more friendships. As a beneficiary of the Twinkle Star Project caravan, it was a wonderful experience to see our children so excited to have a live show and be part of it.’’

Ndung’u said at Children’s Garden Home School, they do not get the luxury of watching such kinds of shows, but their children enjoy themselves and he is sure the lively cartoons left a lasting impact on their children’s creativity and education.

He appealed to the Chinese to consider establishing a permanent cultural exchange programme between the two countries.

"This will not only provide an invaluable boost to the existing China-Kenya cultural cooperation but will also serve as a memorable way of marking 60 years of the China-Kenya diplomatic relations," he said.