The Matumbila’s is a hilarious cartoon that follows the story of Zulfiqar, a Tanzanian-American, growing up and navigating a predominantly white community. Between going to school and battling African stereotypes placed upon him by his white classmates and going back home to a Tanzanian household, Zulfiqar is always caught in limbo.
The series was created by stand-up comedian Zul Manzi. Manzi created the show by drawing upon his own personal experiences being African in a mostly white community, and adapting some of his jokes from his stand-up.
kweliTV had the opportunity to sit down and talk to Manzi about the show.
kweliTV: What was your writing process for creating the show?
Manzi: My writing process for creating The Matumbila’s pretty much stems from my standup comedy routines. I started doing stand-up at least more consistently 23 years ago. A lot of my material is from my own personal experiences and observations of me being Tanzanian-American and coming from a Tanzanian community based in Western Massachusetts. A lot of the interactions that I personally dealt with from my community, I just implemented into my stand-up comedy routine. I also went to a predominantly white school in a suburban white town.
kweliTV: What was your inspiration behind the animation for the show?
Manzi: Growing up, I’ve always enjoyed watching animated cartoons. I’m a big fan of the Proud Family, The Pjs, and other cartoons such as Hey Arnold. From there, I was actually making little cartoons when I was 10 years old. So I decided to kind of take it upon myself to start the series. Originally, I wanted to hire some animators but then I had to re-strategize. I decided to learn on my own by taking online tutorials.
kweliTV: Why do you think American ignorance around African culture is so widespread?
Manzi: I feel like the reason why there is a certain ignorance behind African people is obviously because of media implications. From me doing my own personal homework, and my own personal research, and [watching] a lot of the early cartoons if it was anything about African people or people just coming from the continent directly it would just be about some jungle cartoons, cannibalism, or poverty. I think from those earlier cartoons and then being translated into tv and film where a lot of Hollywood TV and shows will have a random African character, but then will never be specific and say what country. It’ll be a whole broad thing where everyone in Africa is the same person, but that’s not true. I think that’s where the root of it comes from.
kweliTV: What are some creative directions you plan to take with the show soon.
Manzi: Right now, I have another episode that I’m pretty much close to finishing that’ll be releasing soon. And then I have one more tenth episode to complete season one.
kweliTV: What about season 2?
Manzi: Around March, I’ll just continue to make more episodes for season 2. Pretty much for season two I want to expand the environment of The Metumbalas like the minor characters that appeared sporadically in season 1. That’s pretty much my main intent, just making it even funnier than it is now.
Season 1 of The Matumbila’s is streaming now on kweliTV!