The creators of PowToon, software that allows anyone to create animation, has endeavored to answer the question of whether a love and understanding of cartoons is something innately human, or something learned over many Saturday mornings parked in front of the TV. The challenge: bring their latest animation platform to a technologically isolated community and see whether animation is really a “Universal Language.”
CEO Ilya Spitalnik, COO Daniel Zaturansky and Marketing Manager Talia Finn-Jakar set out for Tanzania, where with the help of a guide and translator they were introduced to a band of Hadzabe, an indigenous ethnic group of the central Rift Valley, who had never seen animation before. Welcoming the visitors warmly, the Hadzabe shared their art and aspects of their culture before being introduced to their first cartoon. In the accompanying video, you can watch a young man named Akko using PowToon to create his own, as well.
“It’s safe to say that when we started this journey it was a crazy idea and we truly didn’t know what to expect,” said Ilya Spitalnik, founder and CEO of PowToon. “However, we accomplished what we set out to do—we proved that cartoons are a fundamental form of communication, instinctively understood by everyone across boundaries, borders, and cultures, regardless of whether you grew up watching Mickey Mouse or not. But beyond that, we learned that no matter how far apart we might be from one another geographically, people are all connected, and the power of laughter and a little open-mindedness can bring us all together.”
In preparing for the trip, PowToon learned about ongoing health issues facing the Hadzabe. Part of the visit was given over to connecting the people with local doctors — the company is committed to continuing to help with the Hadza’s medical needs.
See more material from the trip on the PowToon blog.