Animator living his childhood dream

Friday March 2 2018

Malinga tells stories through animation and cartoons to make a living

At 28, Malinga tells stories through animation and cartoons to make a living. PHOTO BY GODFREY LUGAAJU 

By Desire Mbabaali

Rymond Malinga casually moves a pencil-like tool as he draws almost invisible images off a plastic board.
The drawings, however, appear on a computer screen just in front of him.
Smarting in a short sleeved shirt matched over black trousers and a pair of suede brown loafers, Malinga tells of his love for art, a genre through which he expresses emotions and tells stories.
“I have always been a story teller. And now I tell my stories through film, cartoons and animation,” he says, as he flips through a file of animated drawings.
His story telling, unlike what most of us are used to, he says, is told in drawings in form of animations and cartoons.

After completing high school in 2000, Malinga, just like any young man, was thrilled to join university.
Thus he applied at Makerere University to study Computer Science, something he had always dreamed of.
However, as luck might have it, another opportunity came knocking and it is then that he moved to Malaysia to study a degree in Animation from the Multimedia University.

While in Malaysia, Malinga laid the foundation through which he would establish a company Creatures - to do what he loved most – animation and cartooning.
“I had to do whatever was possible to lay the foundation. I had always loved film, animation and cartoons. So I reasoned that if I had the three, I would use them well with my storytelling talent to create something for myself,” he says.

For four years, Malinga perfected his art and it was not surprising that even when he was still in school he would get opportunities through which he would make some little money for upkeep.
“I, together with other colleagues at university, worked on a project which won an award and we were hired by Wau Animation Studio in Malaysia on a show called Ejen Ali,” he says.

On the show Malinga worked as a production executive, which gave him the experience and expertise that he needed to form his own company back in Uganda.
For seven months he worked on the show as his family worked around the clock to process his papers so that he would stay and work in Malaysia.

However, staying in Malaysia was not any of his plan.
“I wanted to come back to [Uganda] to start something of my own. My parents wanted me to stay in Malaysia but I was beginning to feel uncomfortable. I gathered courage and told them my mind,” he says.
“I had gained enough knowledge and experience to do whatever I wanted and anywhere,” he adds.
Besides, Malinga says, he saw no logic in giving his labour to another country for something that he could easily do in his own country.

Returning to Uganda
In 2014 Malinga returned to Uganda to create Creatures, a 3D (Three-Dimension) animation studio that makes cartoons.
“I had saved enough to start a small company. I started with a few friends in the boy’s quarters at home before moving to my young brother’s garage, who is also my business partner,” he says.
Currently, Malinga does his work at Design Hub Kampala, a holding centre for young innovators.
However, he has had to make many adjustments, especially in regard to dealing with a Uganda that lowly appreciates animations and cartooning.
“You do a 20 minute animation, which takes you a lot of time and money but someone wants to pay you just a few hundred thousand shillings,” he says.
This, he says, is a cultural shock, which when compared to Malaysia puts Uganda far behind.
“I remember our first client. We pitched the idea and he really liked it, then he asked for the price. When we told him, he said the amount was almost his profit for the quarter. We had to adjust and by the time we agree on how much he had to pay, we were almost working for free,” he says.