Kizazi Moto: Generation Fire is a new animated sci-fi anthology series on Disney+ that places concepts of high-tech tools and time travel on the continent of Africa. The result is brilliant, to say the least, as each of the ten very short episodes explores various cultural practices and beliefs from various parts of the continent while putting up a thrilling show with sci-fi elements. Along with these, there is also an abundance of thematic messages and deeper commentaries lying under the surface of most of the episodes. Overall, Kizazi Moto: Generation Fire is a highly recommended watch for anyone interested in unique visual styles and story content.
‘Herderboy’ – A Tale Of Unfettered Courage
Herderboy is set in the Chweze highlands, possibly somewhere in Central Africa, and is centered around a teenage boy named Ndahura. The world in this episode is much more advanced than the present reality, though, as tribes who work as herders use technology to shepherd their cattle. It is the animals, a special kind of bovine, that enable such an advancement, as they grow a certain object named Chewzinite on their longhorns. This object is then used by herders to control all the animals at the same time, making their lives much easier. But technology has also turned predatory animals into dangerous machines that hunt cattle with great precision.
In such a world, Ndahura is very eager to become a herder and yield the technology of the Chewzinite, but he is not allowed to because of his young age. The boy’s elder sister, Katono, is the leader of the tribe and also a famed warrior who is dedicated to protecting the animals and her people. On one occasion, Ndahura sneaks into the herding grounds and tries to use a Chewzinite staff to control a calf. Not only does his plan not work, but the loud sounds also alert Katono and her friends while also awakening hungry predators in the distance. The alpha among these predators, a large wolf-like carnivore named Nyamiyonga (which is also the name of the king of the underworld in Ugandan mythology), attacks the herd and takes away the calf that Ndahura was earlier trying to control.
Although Katono and her warrior friends give up hope and are content that they have been able to limit their losses, Ndahura decides to get into Nyamiyonga’s cave and ultimately brings the calf back. His sister had told him only a few minutes earlier what it meant to be a herder, which included taking care of each and every animal and human in their tribe. Young Ndahura had put all his belief in this principle of never leaving even a single friend behind, and he, therefore, goes through the trouble of saving the calf. In the end, the boy also takes control of Nyamiyonga with the help of the Chewzinite and is also named a herder boy.
‘Mkhuzi: The Spirit Racer’ – A Young Boy’s Resolution To Help His People
The second episode, Mkhuzi: The Spirit Racer, takes place in the township of Soweto in South Africa in the future year of 2066. A major racing event considered the best on planet Earth, is about to take place at the Soweto Super Circuit, with participants from all over the galaxy. A snobbish and egoistic intergalactic race champion named Ogun is the favorite to win the event, but he has other intentions. At the previous race in Soweto, Ogun had been defeated by a local racer named Mkhuzi, and he had taken this as a great insult to his fame. Ogun, therefore, wants to face and defeat Mkhuzi this time around to restore his respect, but the latter racer has already retired from the sport.
The real identity of Mkhuzi is also revealed to us, as she is a woman named Manomi who has retired from racing solely to become a better mother to her teenage son Manzo. But on the other hand, Manzo has also been training to be a racer in order to become the next Mkhuzi, even though his mother is not supportive of such a plan. The alien racer Ogun shows his devilish side next when he tracks down Manomi and then comes up with a horrid plan to make her race him. Ogun buys up the entire neighborhood where the woman and her son live and then threatens everyone to leave their houses because he plans some redevelopment. This is surely a hint towards the apparent redevelopment plans by Western companies and individuals all across Africa, which only take away houses and lands from the people.
While Manomi agrees to race Ogun, she also has a severely injured leg, and racing would be very risky for her. Therefore, it is Manzo who steps up to save his people, and there is a more personal drive to this for him. Manzo knows that he is half-alien, and yet he wants to be part of the Zulu people. Although his mother assures him that he is no less Zulu because of his physical attributes, Manzo makes use of this chance to prove it to everyone, and mostly to himself. Ultimately, the race ends in a tie, for it is impossible for a rookie to defeat the veteran Ogun, but then the latter accepts the result. Congratulating Manzo for such a feat, Ogun decides to let go of the neighborhood, and the people get to keep their homes.
‘Moremi’ – What Was Young Luo’s Real Identity?
Moremi features a young boy named Luo and a woman named Moremi, and it takes place in the Yoruba city of Ife in Nigeria. The episode begins with young Luo, who is unable to speak, going around in a mostly abandoned city that is his home. The boy soon notices a bright streak of light, as if someone has flown out of the sky, and takes shelter inside his house. However, the visitor, an armor-clad woman, has clearly come to the place only for Luo, and as soon as she enters the boy’s house, more trouble arrives. Three beasts, known as soul-stealing giants, break into the place and try to harm Luo. While his only guardian, a small bird that can also grow in size, is defeated, Luo is saved by the armored woman, and she then brings him to the city of Ife.
The entire matter is soon revealed, as the city of Ife had once been overrun by soul-stealing giants that had suddenly come from a different realm. When one of the Yoruba women prayed to the Gods for help against this danger, they gave her divine power to fight the giants and protect her people. The woman then built safe shields across the town of Ife, protecting all her people as the giants could not enter these shields, and also sought to destroy the doors between realms. The woman succeeded in creating a machine to do this, but she could not get it started with her own powers. When asking the Gods for help once again, the woman was told to give up her child, whose power would be used to close the doors. In return, the child would be taken away to the realm of the gods and would forever stay there.
Desperate to protect her people, the woman had agreed to do so, and she was the armor-clad woman herself, Moremi. She had given up her only son, Olu, to the Gods, and the boy was transferred to the divine realm, where he became Luo. But Moremi could not live with the grief of being away from her child, and she had then promised to save her son from the realm of the gods in any possible manner. Therefore, the beginning sequence actually takes place in the divine realm, and since she brings her son back, the soul-stealing giants return to Ife as well. Moremi is built on the moving idea that a mother would be ready to fight against anyone, even the Gods, to bring her child back to safety. It might also be seen as a parallel to the act of sacrificing one’s child, realizing the mistake in it, and then warring against the Gods to bring the child back to life. In the end, Luo sacrifices himself to bring Olu back to life, and the mother and son are finally reunited in a happy moment.
‘Surf Sangoma’ – How Does Njabulo Save His Grandmother’s Legacy?
Surf Sangoma presents the South African city of Durban in the future, where the seas are no longer favorable for surfing like they are at present because of pollution and climate change. Citizens are not allowed to go to the beaches or coastline either, and the only legal surfing activities are done at parks that have recreated the sea waves. Young adult Njabulo works at such a surfing park, which his family also owns, as it is in honor of his grandmother, Ma Zed, who was an exceptional surfer during her time. Although Njabulo is tired of a monotonous life, he sticks to the rules of not going surfing on the high seas until his best friend Mnqobi convinces him to try it.
There is also a faction of miscreants living on the abandoned beaches and shorelines, led by an individual named Mlindos. This gang often gets high on squid fluids and then goes surfing on the seas, and Mlindos is quite a cruel woman. She convinces Mnqobi to get high and surf on the waves, while Njabulo refuses to do so. Later on, she steals Ma Zed’s famed surfing board from the park by using Mnqobi to get into the place. There was also a personal reason why Njabulo did not go out to the open seas, for he had lost his grandmother to an accident in the sea when she had been swarmed by the squids in the water. Whenever the boy would think of going to the sea, Ma Zed’s voice would always ask him not to, but this time, he gets permission from his conscience and reaches the shoreline.
Unlike the enemies in the previous episodes, who were outsiders and foreigners to the respective lands, the enemy faction in Surf Sangoma is a group that is part of this apocalyptic Durban. These people are determined to destroy their own legacy for their personal short-lived entertainment, and this phenomenon is quite relatable for the continent as well. At the end of the episode, Njabulo not only saves his grandmother’s legacy but also rescues and reunites with his best friend Mnqobi, as Mlindos and her gang are swarmed by squids in the sea.
‘First Totem Problems’ – The Pressure Of Parental Expectations
First Totem Problems presents the extreme pressure of parental expectations during an already confusing phase of life when one nears adulthood. Sheba Mniki, the protagonist, is a young woman excited to become an adult soon because she dreams of independence and being able to make her own decisions. However, Sheba’s parents and grandparents do not understand such concepts of independence—they cannot believe that someone would want to stay by themselves, away from family, and have also already selected what Sheba is to become as an adult. In this particular world, every individual turning into an adult is given a totem, or tattoo, on their body that signifies what they are to become in life. While Sheba can only think of having some independence, her parents and grandparents fight over whether the girl should become a physicist or a doctor.
But things take a different turn when Sheba and her family reach the totem ceremony, and she is unable to even get into the portal from where she would learn her destiny. But by the end of the episode, Sheba comes out as a truly unique individual who really deserves to be treated like an adult. Unlike everybody else her age, who just accepted the fate selected for them, Sheba creates her own fortune by using her intelligence at every step to get her totem. From using the healer’s cloak to get inside the portal to saving herself from the authorities who try to stop her, Sheba proves her quick thinking. Even older ancestors of hers had been warring over whose qualities the girl should get, and it was because of them that the girl could not enter the portal at first. “First Totem Problems”, therefore, is a funny take on the struggles of many African and Asian children in having to deal with their over-controlling parents.
In the end, Sheba once again uses her intelligence to get both her ancestors to give her their totems, making her the best version of both sides. Even if the girl does not choose to be a physicist or a doctor as an adult, she will surely thrive with her clever mind.
‘Mukudzei’ – What Does Muku Learn From His Experience?
Mukudzei once again returns to an actual region on the African continent, albeit in a fictional setting, as the narrative takes place in the Ruins of Great Zimbabwe. Once a rich country, Zimbabwe is now reduced to just rubble and ruins, and the teenager Muku shoots videos of himself painting graffiti over one of the rocks at the place. The boy wants to be the most viral artist on the social media platform “Slick Tok” and is rather frustrated at always being defeated by a DJ cat. He regularly ignores his father’s calls and other ways of reaching out to him and is instead focused only on creating content for followers.
While shooting the graffiti video, Muku gets into an accident and is transported into an alternate universe where Zimbabwe has never been colonized. Instead of the other way around, there are advertisements in the giant metropolis to give donations to Canada and to book safaris in New York. Along with this subversion of history, the episode features the lesson of not abandoning one’s parents no matter what.
Rumbie, the girl who helps Muku throughout the journey, had also been transported into this alternate universe five years ago, but she had never attempted to go back to her own world. This was because, in her and Muku’s real world, her younger brother had died at the Ruins of Great Zimbabwe while on her watch. Rumbie was scared and guilt-ridden, thinking that her parents, especially her mother, would be angry at her for being unable to protect her brother. Because of this, Rumbie escaped to the alternate universe, leaving the mother with the grief of losing both her children. The fact that the mother turns into the giant eagle, which is representative of the Zimbabwe Bird, also perhaps draws a connection between nation and mother. Maybe the intention is to parallel Rumbie with people who prefer to move to richer nations, abandoning their motherland which is gradually moving towards becoming ruins.
Muku and Rumbie then realize together that they must not abandon their parents and cause them grief, for they only try to look out for them. Rumbie gladly returns to her mother, and instead of posting content on social media, Muku first calls up his father and talks to him.
‘Hatima’ – The Futility Of Being Enemies
Hatima shows two different communities and civilizations, one living on land and one under the sea, who hate each other and often war against one another without knowing about their connected history. Mati is a merman who is extremely sad because of the recent loss of his loving father, and inside his mind, the young boy is determined to become a warrior and fight his enemies. But his elder brother Sana, who is a renowned warrior, is certain that Mati is not ready yet. It is revealed that the air-breathing people, who live on land, often attack the underwater civilization in order to collect a magical power called Hatima, which is found only in water. Sana and his people are absolutely convinced that the land people use Hatima to wage warfare and kill each other.
As Mati has to fight off one of the enemies during this attack, he also finds an old memory orb through which he and the soldier from the land both learn about their connected histories. Many years ago, in the civilization on land, among the mighty baobab trees lived two sisters named Nhela and Alani. The two were the daughters of the ruler of the kingdom, but Nhela had fallen sick from some terminal disease. In order to try something that she had heard of, Nhela used to get Alani to steal Hatima and bring it to her. The elder sister would then experiment with the magical power herself in order to cure her disease.
Nhela did eventually find a way to turn Hatima into a helpful regenerative medicine, and she immersed her whole body in it. While Nhela’s disease was completely cured, her physical attributes changed, and she turned into a mermaid. Ashamed by such a transformation, the father banished her from his kingdom, and Nhela went under the water to live. Mati, Sana, and all of their people were clearly descendants of Nhela, as they had similar physical attributes, which meant that both sides of the warring civilizations were actually humans.
It can also be that the people on land want to procure Hatima to use it as medicine, but the underwater people do not believe so and only see the air-breathers as enemies. Neither do the air-breathers consider the underwater people generous enough to let them access Hatima, and instead they just attack the civilization. Genuinely hurt and disgusted by such a futile and wrong enmity, Mati decides to spare the life of the air-breathing soldier in the end.
‘Stardust’ – A Reminder Of Creating One’s Own Destiny
The episode Stardust is about an adolescent girl named Nawara who yearns to know what she is supposed to be in the future. The world in which the girl lives has a regular occasion during which a learned man named the Oracle predicts the future of every adolescent by giving them a scroll. These predictions are actually made with the help of magical dust called stardust, and society mostly uses stardust to know what their futures will be like. However, Nawara is not allowed to attend this event because she is an outcast who is allowed to live in the town only as a lowly stablekeeper. Despite such regulations, though, the young girl manages to reach the stage, talk to the Oracle, and get a scroll from him but is extremely disappointed to find it to be empty. Interpreting this as a prediction that she can be nothing in her future, Nawara decides to confront the Oracle.
On the other side, the Oracle has to travel a long distance with the stardust amidst attacks from the bandits of the land, called Pallids. It is then Nawara who steps up to protect the stardust from the enemies and takes them to the Observatory, where all the important predictions are made. In the process of doing so, the girl also creates her own destiny and does not let the prediction restrict her. When Nawara finally confronts the Oracle, though, she learns that the Oracle, too, had been given an empty scroll, signifying that Nawara was truly blessed and powerful enough to make her own fortune, unlike the others who walked on the paths shown to them by the predictions. At the end of Stardust, the Oracle asks Nawara what she would like to be in her future, and she replies that she is satisfied with her current identity, that of a helper of the Oracle.
‘You Give Me Heart’ – A Funny Reflection Of The Current Social-Media-Obsessed World
You Give Me Heart begins with an extremely popular reality show named Who Wants to Be a God going on, in which the judges are looking for the next God of Creativity. The criteria for judgment here is to be able to entertain the people and the judges, no matter with what silliness, and have lots of followers on social media. The chief judge in this competition is a celebrity God named Maadi, who makes people swoon over herself through her attractive looks and regular posts on social media. The protagonist, Sundiata, wins the round with his unique talent and also by mistakenly switching off the beauty filter of the show’s host, Tsibinki. Sundiata is then required to collect 1 million followers over the next 24 hours in order to win the whole competition.
In the world of the Gods, named Hodimo, Sundiata is taught to use beauty filters and create silly content in order to gain followers. He is groomed by Maadi, who gradually expresses her disinterest in being a social media sensation, and Sundiata, too, is more interested in being creative than selling his persona online. By the end of the episode, Maadi also realizes how the followers actually do not care about her, just like they do not care about anyone and are only interested in watching silly and mindless content on the internet. The moment they find Sundiata trending, everyone follows him and hates on Maadi. Finally, Sundiata also gives up his status and appearance as a god and settles with Maadi, whose actual self he had seen and fallen in love with earlier.
‘Enkai’ – How Does Enkai Surprise Her Mother In The End?
The very last episode of Kizazi Moto features a young Swahili girl named Enkai, who is unhappy with the fact that she cannot yet give life to objects with her chants like her mother, Shiro, can. Often feeling lonely at her house, Enkai tries to give life to a toy fox that she creates out of objects and is finally able to do so. She immediately thinks of going out and showing it to her mother, but Enkai is strictly told never to leave her house while Shiro is out.
The reason for this is that the world outside is nothing less than a warzone, as corporations and institutions from the West have settled into the country and have been trying to convince the locals to leave. Although these corporations claim to care for Africa and the locals, they have been mining resources and destroying the lands to such an extent that the locals are left with absolutely nothing. Shiro happens to be a warrior who is determined to protect her people against these infiltrators, and for this reason, she often has to leave Enkai alone at the house.
Throughout its ten episodes, Kizai Moto: Generation Fire has been regularly telling stories about young individuals, about the newer generations, who learn things about themselves, their cultures, or the worlds around them. Enkai is also no different, but instead of any triumph for the world here, there is a positive ending only with respect to the mother-daughter relationship. Enkai saves her mother from imminent death, and Shiro is also extremely happy that her daughter can finally create a life by herself, but then the world she was trying to save, which is our very world, has to be abandoned. It is almost like nothing can be done against the evil Western corporations, and the only way of survival for the likes of Enkai and Shiro is to abandon the world and move on to a new world of their own creation.