Michael Muthiga is the face behind several
. He speaks to PETER ODUOR on being self-taught,
earning Sh3 million in one deal at age 24, not tithing
one shilling out of it despite being born again and
how to sift true friends from bad
You know Yego right?
Julius Yego, the YouTube taught javelin gold
medalist. Self-taught and winning. You also
describe yourself as a self-taught animator.
What is it to be self taught?
For me, it is simple… Every day, I do one
animation class online. Each class is about two
hours. Sometimes more. I’ve done most
elements of animation through them. When I get
a project, I don’t refuse. I take it and learn on
the job. And, yes, I know Yego.
There are animation colleges all over Kenya.
Why not join one instead of foraging for
information from online institutions?
Of course, it would be easier if someone would
teach me. The only handicap is that such kind of
people are not in Kenya. Our institutions and
instructors are below par. They don’t know what
is needed. They give the basics. They’re
concerned about numbers and money.
In that case, if you were to come up with an
animation college in Kenya, how would it look
I’d only take in 100 students, then thin them
down to 50. Animation and graphic design is
tough and frustrating, so I’d need only the
toughest and most self-driven students. And the
course would take one to two years. Not six
months as I see our institutions do.
It is said that you used to work for a mainstream
media house in Kenya where you pitched the
Faiba animations at first only to be turned
Tell me about that?
I don’t know what you are talking about. 2009, I
worked as an animator at Homeboys
entertainment. I didn’t pitch to them. Is
Homeboys a mainstream media house?
But then in 2010, I made this short animated clip
of a man dancing to Huratiti by Jimmy Gait.
Orange mobile service saw it, liked it and asked
if I could make five clips of that kind for them.
At what cost?
How long were the clips?
Each went for between one to one and a half
Sh3 million is a lot of money…What did you do
I bought a car. Silly, I know. I bought 3D
animation equipment and I finished the 5 clips.
You are born again. How much did you pass on
to the church?
What men really talk about when they
This is why I’m hot- Najib Balala
I like to tell it as it is – Trainer Frankie
Nothing. I didn’t give tithe or anything. I was
overwhelmed by it. I used it. All of it. First on
myself. And then on the business. When I look
back, I think I should have given a bit. But, I
don’t regret not giving.
That sounds like it was your big break. Did you
walk around still introducing yourself after that?
It wasn’t. That deal gave me money but the
break came when I got the Faiba animations
contract by Jamii Telecommunications. This one
gave me coverage and, hence, value. Now I
don’t introduce myself. I present my portfolio.
Clients know it.
On content and form, which one is superior in
Content always. Your script has to make sense.
It has to be interesting. It has to be straight to
the point. Not dragging or running in circles. In
short, before you sit to animate, the content has
to be creatively rich.
Being the pioneer of 3D animations in Kenya,
you must be getting a lot of attention. How do
you handle it?
Kwame Nyong’o is the pioneer of 3D animations
in Kenya. He probably doesn’t know it. But he is.
This year, only five people have stopped me on
the street. Attention is for famous people. I’m
not famous. The cartoon character is famous.
That is how I want it.
You earned your first million – Sh3 million – at
24, were there women in the picture…?
No. I never liked to spend on women. I had this
mentality that they are there for your cash.
How about friends?
Building friendships does not involve money. My
policy on friends is simple; keep the beneficial
friendships. Cut off the ones that drag you
And how do you do that?
Tests. Friendships have to be tested. You can’t
know a good friend without a good test. Money
and hard times are two sure ways of telling who
a good friend is.
Who is your star animator in the world today?
Creator of Family Guy, Seth MacFarlane. His
style is simple but classic. His style and content
are in sync.
Where are your Civil Engineering degree
certificates from Malaysia?
Can’t tell. Don’t know. I spent my time in Civil
Engineering classes learning animation on my
own. Never liked engineering. My first job was
animation. My hobby is animation. My future is
Michael Muthiga is the face behind several