Genii Games is the one-stop shop for fun and engaging African culturally themed content for kids. Adebayo Adegbembo, founder Genii Games, is very passionate about sharing and preserving African cultures and languages with technology.
He is a graduate of Surveying & Geo-informatics Engineering from the University of Lagos. And when passion took over Adebayo, he went the route of founding Genii Games in fulfillment of his love writing, reading and programming.
We often hear stories of how CEOs or Founders dabble into many ventures before finally settling for one. However for Adebayo, it is a journey that remains in unfolding progress for him. Adebayo also reveals the important ingredients to this journey: persistence, perseverance and patience.
Talking about what drives that passion and if it influenced creating the ‘Asa’ brand which is a part of Genii Games, Adebayo says,
“My interest stems from my background. I was raised with the full knowledge and pride in my native Yoruba language.”
“The fact that it hasn’t affected me in any negative sense contrary to some widely held views today inspire me to address the subject.”
“The creation of the ‘Asa’ brand leans towards that drive to instill pride in our cultural identities by stimulating interest in them using technology.”
Concerns About Originality and the ‘Preservation’ Workload Ahead
There has been increasing worries of older generations that the originality of African languages and cultures is giving away to the rapid emergence and growth of variations of African languages and interference of western cultures.
Adebayo thinks that “it is only natural that native languages are given to the effects or influence of external cultures or factors. It’s a trend that’s been highlighted by academics and formed a major theme of the YALE conference on African languages held in October 2016. Interestingly, I think these emerging variations serve to draw awareness to the native languages from which they are derived.”
Africa has over 1000 languages, and that’s a lot of ‘preservation’ work to do. Adebayo admits that the brand is “under no illusion that we [Genii Games] can do it alone, hence it’s a pleasure to find organizations and individuals with whom we [Genii Games] can work to further expand our reach.”
Rebirthing Interest in African Languages through Technology
Amongst other reasons why younger generations of Africans seem to have little or no interest in learning and speaking African languages, Adebayo points out that “there is a certain preconceived notion among some that indigenous languages have little or no impact on the socio-economic aspects of their lives. In order words, when it comes to deciding career paths, these languages confer no inherent benefits.”
Developing Apps and cartoons to promote and preserve native African languages and cultures for kids, which is part of the vision of Genii Games, is not as pretty as it sounds. Adebayo responds with his experience so far with creating contents that can appeal to younger audience.
“Pretty is highly subjective. I think it sounds pretty given it’s a creative process developed around features – cartoon, games, play, fun – that most find appealing. My experience so far has been one of self-fulfillment given it’s an expression of my passion. In terms of reception by my audience, I’d say satisfactory.”
“It helps to understand that not everyone shares the same value or enthusiasm when it comes to the importance of these indigenous values, but for the niche that does, it’s been well appreciated. The initial reaction by kids has been great as evident in the feedback shared with me by parents across the world”
Talking about practical solutions his innovation initiated within the community, Adebayo says,
“The Digital Storytelling workshop which I’ve run across schools with kids is one way of giving back. It’s also one I look forward to continuing as a way of demystifying the creative process before kids.”
This [the digital storytelling workshop] is a great initiative by Genni Games! And it is a creative way to get kids involved in sharing and preserving African languages and cultures.
However, the greater challenge of this initiative is how it would be expanded to parts of Africa, the local communities, that have very little or no access to technology and quality education. In response to this, Adebayo says,
“Understanding that technology is only an enabler and one item in the broader creative process helps to see how this can be beneficial to communities regardless of their access to technology. “
“Thus, when you consider what goes into the process involves or includes manual tasks as drawing, voice acting, writing then even a simple comic as an end product will go a long way to demonstrate to these kids the power of their roles in the creative process. It’s more than tech. Rather, about letting them see the power of being creators.”
Challenges and Essential Support Systems
Despite the amazing feedback the brand got from users, Adebayo shares some of the challenges the brand faced and some of the most challenging decisions he had to make,
“I’d say accessibility to my apps from the local audience was pretty daunting at the start. It’s getting better with the increasing awareness about apps, mobile data and ownership of smart phones.”
“The most challenging bit would be that of sustaining the business. To address that, I’ve had to commit to continuous learning in areas of interest especially programming thus paving the way for me to handle paid consulting projects.”
Social entrepreneurs, who are addressing poorly met social or environmental needs, transforming the way societies work and generating positive social impact, often require support systems that would help them thrive better, in Nigeria and other parts of Africa.
Adebayo is of the opinion that, “A more conducive working environment would go a long way. Not having to think about catering to basic services like power would no doubt free one to be more creative in the use of limited resources. Also, providing pipeline for access to market is one way to help small innovative businesses thrive.”
Adebayo’s advice to his teenage self:
- Just start something!
- Find a creative expert to understudy as an apprentic
The Future for Genii Games
The next couple of months should see Genii Games fine-tune our content release structure to be more frequent and diverse. Over the coming years, we expect to use that as a strategy for launching multiple content across multiple platforms such as TV, web and mobile.
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