Netflix Has Picked Up an Animated Musical Inspired by Shona Mythology
"Tunga" is the brainchild of Zimbabwean-born screenwriter Godwin Jabangwe.
The latest African story to become a Netflix original will be an animated, family-friendly musical based on Zimbabwean culture, Deadlinereports. The streaming service won a four-way bidding battle for Tunga, created by Zimbabwean-born screenwriter and newcomer to the film industry Godwin Jabangwe.
Inspired by the mythology from Jabangwe's Shona culture, the musical follows a young girl named Tunga, who embarks on an adventure to a mythical lost city after the death of her father. There, she must meet her spiritual elders who will teach her how to summon the rain and save her village from drought.
"Accompanying Tunga is her animal totem Zuze—a wooden figurine that comes to life as a trouble-making honey badger—who Tunga must learn to trust and work with in order to complete her journey," Deadline continues.
Jabangwe first discovered a knack for screenwriting while working long shifts at a community college library—eventually graduating from UCLA's screenwriting MFA program.
"I never dreamed that a story set in Zimbabwe, on the streets that I grew up playing soccer with a homemade ball, would get made," Jabangwe says to Deadline. "I'm thrilled to be working with Netflix to bring Tunga to life and grateful to Imagine Impact for helping me take the strand of an idea and weaving it into a tale that I truly hope the world will love."
Tunga is the first deal out of 22 projects developed in the Impact 1 program from Imagine Entertainment co-founders Brian Grazer and Ron Howard. The initiative seeks to fund new writers and champion new voices to develop film and TV projects that were pitched to the industry towards the end of 2018. The program pairs each creator with a mentor, or what they call a "shaper"—Jabangwe's was Kate Purdee, co-executive producer of Bojack Horseman. The next iteration of the program will begin this April.