BBC AND PENGUIN: TINGA TINGA CREATED IN KENYA
In July 2008 the Tanzanian Tinga Tinga painters were visited by one of the biggest UK film companies – Tiger Aspect Productions. The message was that children films inspired by Tinga Tinga art would be animated and this would enhance the prominence of Tinga Tinga art in Tanzania. The Tingatinga Arts Cooperative Society signed therefore agreement with Tiger Aspect Productions to provide high skilled Tinga Tinga painters for the new set-up studio in Nairobi. Tinga Tinga painters were excited about the new opportunities and expectations were high that more customers would come to Tanzania to buy Tinga Tinga paintings.
But when the first article about the “Tinga Tinga Tales” was published in the Tanzanian newspaper Guardian on 24th September 2009 the feelings changed from excitement to disappointment. The article celebrated Kenya; there was no word about Tanzania as home of Tinga Tinga art. And there was no word about the Tingatinga painters who painted everything; instead it celebrated the Homeboyz Radio in Nairobi which provided space for the Tiger Aspect´s studio.
The BBC article which was copied by the Tanzanian Guardian starts: “When huge contracts from Disney turn up at your door, you know you have made it. That´s how Homeboyz Animation feel”. Then it continues:”By the end of the year its work will be all over TV networks in the rest of the world”. But the most questionable is the title “Tinga Tinga getting animated in Nairobi”. The company Tiger Aspect emphasized to the painters that the films were only inspired by Tinga Tinga but it was not Tinga Tinga. The right title should be “Tinga Tinga Tales getting animated in Kenya”.
TACS has been alerting the media since summer 2009 but not received answers from BBC, Worldscreen.com, Penguin etc. (Penguin introduces its book illustrated by Tanzanian painters and inspired by Tinga Tinga art from Tanzania with words: "Tinga Tinga was created in Nairobi, in Kenya") The Guardian has refused to communicate with Tingatinga Cooperative. New articles are published and copied almost every week; suggesting Tinga Tinga is from Kenya.
The Tourist Board in Tanzania regards Tinga Tinga as one of the tourist attractions comparable to Mount Kilimanjaro, Zanzibar, Serengeti etc. Now when Tinga Tinga will be known as Kenyan it will be more difficult to tap the potential of this cultural heritage for the advantage of Tanzania. On the social-economic level, if the shift of Tinga Tinga art to Kenya will continue, the migration of the Tinga Tinga artists for job opportunities in Kenya will increase.
The current situation could be reverted only by increased attention from foreign and Tanzanian media. Therefore TACS welcomes any initiative from any institution, media or private persons to spread the true word about the Tinga Tinga art.
Penguin about Tinga Tinga:
Author: Daniel Augusta