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Ugandan animation Katoto in COVID19 awareness campaign:

For such a long time now, fans of the locally created and produced internet sensational animated series – Katoto have always pondered about their favorite fictional online jolly character and when or whether he would ever return to their screens.

In case you are hearing the name Katoto for the very first time, or it might have skipped your mind of who he is; well, Katoto is a Ugandan cartoon series featuring the comical escapades of a village Mukiga man – Katoto who loves his Bushera; being a traditional guy.

He is often caught in hilarious escapades with his son, cow (Kyasina) and his wife. I would say he’s a jolly, rural, round-bellied, inquisitive, witty, resilient, candid, happy-go-lucky, cunning yet a despicable coward character. He is hilarious, and full of tricks. All together with his small family navigates the problems of modern life in Uganda. Katoto speaks in a rare Rukiga dialect that is foreign to even some Ugandans, but his comedy is largely physical and easy to follow (since it has English subtitles).

The character became popular because of its appeal and sincerity whose life resonates with an ordinary Ugandan’s everyday encounters; and for a character that resonates with many people on a local context, the success of the game was highly probable.

We were first introduced to Katoto in the festive season in the year 2014; after a budding architect and amateur animator, Richard Musinguzi, uploaded just 6 seconds of a goofy and hilarious character named Katoto on Facebook. I personally got to know of Katoto while watching an episode of #TAG on Urban TV where the clip was played at the end of the show that day. I became an instant fan ever since and even wrote an article about Katoto in our next school magazine’s issue.

The viral clip aroused so much interest that left people marveling at the Mukiga inspired character, who according to Richard is inspired by folklore. This was followed by a short animated clip that emerged on the internet; still from the same creator. The hilarious video was titled “Christmas N’okuliisamaani” which features Katoto and also his son staring at the moon and stars on Christmas Eve as the two share the myths they hear of about the day of Christmas. Katoto and the son then start singing some Christmas carols and dancing about in merriment till the child accidentally knocks his father’s pot of “Bushera”. This video spread fast as a wild fire upon surfacing online (Facebook, WhatsApp and YouTube) as many found it very comical and so it did usher us into the festive.

Other notable episodes include one where Katoto partakes in the ALS Ice Bucket challenge, the greedy moment, and in another, he makes a funny and failed attempt to take a selfie, in another Katoto meets and takes a selfie with an animated President Museveni, one clip where he was narrating to his village mate about how a wild pig had chased him so bad, among other clips; It’s safe to say Katoto has been taking Kampala and the rest of Uganda by storm. Katoto; the character quickly became the talk of the internet in Uganda. The short videos which were often laced with hilarity were widely shared on social platforms. Many people couldn’t help but be enthused by a cartoon which for the first time wasn’t foreign, but rather indigenous in every aspect.

Katoto creator; Musinguzi

Richard Musinguzi, the developer of the goofy, and cheerful character said that having graduated from architecture school in 2013, he had a “burning desire” to animate a cartoon character that truly behaved like a Ugandan after reading comical folk stories from a Ugandan legend called Ishe-Katabazi. In one story, a man gets into a fight with a pregnant woman, and, after she wins the fight, “his excuse was that he couldn’t fight two people at the same time,” Musinguzi explains.

Katoto creator; Musinguzi and team mate

From there, he began to design his character with a similar penchant for humor, and searched for audio recordings that matched his personality and later put it all together to make up the first 6 second clip that went viral.

Since premiering online from the time of debut, the Katoto short clips have received at least 40,000 views on each video on YouTube and as of today, the channel boosts of over 12,000 Subscribers and 1.57 Million total views on all videos. The Facebook following alone is at over 42,000 likes and still growing.

The buzz about the cartoon was too much that it attracted international press like CNN, BBC and Yahoo! News to feature Katoto, referring to it as the answer for an ‘African’ mickey mouse’. Unfortunately, despite the fan base the TV animation, had garnered, it quickly vanished and left everyone guessing. The question on almost everybody’s mind all this while has been – what happened to Katoto?

Being that Richard was creating the clips alone, the capacity to produce many clips was little hence the hold on production. However, all the while, during that time he and other members who form a team of 5 were working on bettering and improving efficiency when it came to delivering more quality Katoto content for consumption. There was also a collaboration with the School of Performing Arts at Makerere University to create the ensemble of music to serve as the score (background music, or film soundtrack, film music, or incidental music is the original music written specifically to accompany a film.

The producers of the animation series have since done various marketing and communications for different brands; with the very first one being the TV advert for the then Crane Bank and now the latest; a COVID19 awareness campaign in partnership with the Ministry of Health- Uganda. In the new video, Katoto is worried about his son showing signs of having the covid19 virus and is anxious about it You can watch full video below:

If you love some laughter, they’ve got you covered in this department. Check out the rest of the hilarious Katoto clips on the character’s YouTube channel below; 😊