By Dr Jermaine Bamfo
Cycil Jones Abban is the founder and Director of Parables Productions – an animation organisation dedicated to enhance the impact and presence of animation in Ghana.
In 2006, Cycil directed Ghana’s first animated feature, ‘Ananse Must Die’ followed a year later with a second feature film, ‘28th The crossroads’.
As an animation director, character designer and visionary, he seeks to challenge the stereotypes and inspire a generation of change makers in Ghana. Speaking to GUBA, Cycil Jones Abban tells us more about the vision of Parables Productions…
Congratulations on your nomination as animator of the year. How does it feel?
Thank you! It is definitely a privilege and I feel honoured. Personally, it is an amazing feeling of recognition considering my humble journey which has culminated into this opportunity. I can’t say thank you enough for this recognition. I don’t know how else I would have gotten such a prestigious platform to be introduced to the world.
Tell us a little about yourself and what you do
My name is Cycil Jones Abban. I am a Cartoon Animator, Director and Host. I attended the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology, where I graduated with a BSc degree in Pharmacy in 2002. So I am what you would call a Pharmacist-turned Animator. The reason for this is simple; I was born an artist into an art family. My brother was an inspiration and my journey as an animator started when he brought home his university project which was in animation and he asked me to give him a hand. When you have passion for something you just can’t suppress it. It was so strong it was overwhelming! And so I came to a crossroads; do I continue as a qualified Pharmacist or do I give it up for animation? My nomination for Best Animator is a clue to the decision I eventually made. I chose animation because I believe it is my calling. I want to be the ‘Walt Disney of Africa’ so my life now is dedicated to realising that dream. I live, eat, breath, laugh and smile animation. It’s my life. It’s my passion.
Why would you say you deserve to win?
I am not obligated to win. I am however obligated to keep trying, knowing that I do my very best for God and country everyday.
It is my belief that when you educate a child of any country, you educate a nation and so at Parables our main focus has been working with children. We are attempting to raise a new generation of young adults who will be void of the stereotype normally associated with young black men and women, by empowering them with skills and an identity they can be proud of and call their own.
As an industry, animation is lagging behind in the country. In the last 10 years, we have taken the mantle and led the way in inspiring and encouraging a new generation of enthusiastic young artists who are passionate about getting into the art of animation.
European kids will tell you their heroes are Captain America, Spiderman and the like – and that is ok! But when I hear an African child in the remote part of Africa citing Captain America as their hero or role model, I start to worry. I cannot blame them, because those of us with the tools to change things aren’t doing so. At Parables, we do things differently. We believe in equipping our children with the knowledge of self. Self-knowledge is empowering, and an empowered youth is a recipe for future success.
In order to give our children heroes of our own that they can relate to, we succeeded in bringing back an old folklore super hero, Agya Kweku Ananse himself. By bringing back the ‘By The Fireside’ storytelling experience, children can listen to the many exploits of Kweku Ananse and also learn from morals of his stories. We have also been able to take Kweku Anase from the drawing board to a live stage audience show using puppetry, acoustic-accompanied traditional music, oratory and animation for a fun-filled experience. Today, Kweku Ananse has found his way back into the fabric of our culture and most importantly into the hearts of our children. If you ask most of our followers who their hero is, they will tell you “Kweku Ananse.”
For these reasons we believe that when the envelope is torn open to read out the winner for GUBA Award for Best Animator of the Year 2017, it might simply say “Cycil Jones Abban.”
What motivates you and your work?
Change and obstacles motivate me and my work. Changing the way we think of ourselves can only be done through education, and animation is a great educational tool. Employing the power of human/computer interaction, I am able to produce educational materials which are not just informative but fun, interactive and exciting at the same time. The challenges that come with the execution of a successful campaign is a driving force.
What are your thoughts on the GUBA awards?
It is an outstanding achievement for it to have been birthed in the first place and so I take off my hat to the founding members of this prestigious awards ceremony.
I was immensely pleased to learn that contrary to my previous knowledge (which was that GUBA Enterprise exists only to award outstanding excellence) it in fact goes way beyond that. Its quest to address needs such as health, education and poverty is highly commendable. I particularly commend GUBA’s efforts at fundraising to support and provide resources the aforementioned needs of society. The ‘Closing the Gap on Infant Mortality” project is to me of immense importance and I think we should all, in one small way or another, support the GUBA Foundation’s cause. It’s worthy of our time money and efforts.
Are you involved in any other projects?
Yes! I am currently helping to form and establish an Animation association in Ghana to help grow the industry and assist other animators who need the necessary push to improve their skills.
Aside this, I’m also involved in an AMR project, which is intended to create awareness of Anti-Microbial Resistance and its potential threat in the medical treatment of microbial infection. My role aside, the pharmaceutical input had to do with concept development in the media to create the awareness
Cycil Jones Abban has been nominated for the Animator of the Year Award. To cast your vote, visit http://www.gubaawards.co.uk/voting/animator/