Left Behind. A cross-cultural collaboration between Animation undergraduate students from the Technical University of Kenya and postgraduate students from St. Martins University in the UK.
EXPLORING THE GENDERED IMPACT OF WAR - INSIGHTS FROM THE "LEFT BEHIND" ANIMATED SHORT
A groundbreaking cross-cultural collaboration between Animation undergraduate students from the Technical University of Kenya and postgraduate students, from St. Martins University in the UK.
“Left Behind” is an emotional voyage through East African history, that pays tribute to the unyielding spirit and sacrifices of those African unsung heroes of war called the Kariokor or Carrier Corps porters. The narrative is an attempt to memorialize the heroes and preserve their legacy for generations to come. The production is based on a fictional script based on real events.
The Left Behind narrative is visual animated story that brings together the creative work of student animators and lecturers from two partnering post-colonial universities. This unique collaboration showcases the fusion of cultural perspectives, artistic talents, and shared aspirations to craft a captivating animated journey designed to resonate with audiences worldwide. This historical, humanitarian project was commissioned by the esteemed Commonwealth War Graves Commission (CWGC), who entrusted the departments of Design in both institutions with the important task of commemorating the profound stories within the World War Cemetery, located at the Ngong Forest Reserve in Nairobi, Kenya.
The Voice over script
Did you know the first and last shots fired in combat, during the First World War were on the African continent? In 1914 the British in Kenya fought the Germans in present-day Tanzania, turning East Africa into a battlefield. Over the course of the war, more than a million Africans became porters, labourers and soldiers for the British and imperial forces. I was a porter, and this is my story. One painful day I left my wife and children to take part in a war that was not mine. Day after day, under the scorching sun we walked. Every step felt harder than the last, the weight on my shoulders felt like it would break me. I wanted to collapse but we had to keep moving.
Yet even the end of the war was not the end of my pain. We received no hero’s welcome or reward. While our European counterparts had their graves marked and were memorialised forever. I saw the unmarked mass graves where my brothers who could no longer carry the weight were buried. Tens of thousands of us died, till this day, my heart and mind have not found peace. I remember my brothers who died on the battlefields, in the depots and hospitals. Their story will live on, only if we tell it. I hope you can remember them too.
Exploring the Gendered Impact of War: Insights from the Left Behind Animated Short
In the annals of East African history lies an untold chapter, where the reverberating effects of war intertwine with themes of gender, sacrifice, and the profound devastation inflicted upon local communities and families. This is the story of "Left Behind," an animated production that ventures beyond the battles of the First World War, delving into the gendered experiences of those forgotten souls who bore the brunt of conflict. In 1914, the African continent became an unexpected battlefield, witnessing the clash between the British and the Germans in Kenya and present-day Tanzania. Amidst the chaos, young and robust males were conscripted against their will, coerced into leaving their families behind to serve as porters, and laborers for the British and colonial forces.
The production perspective is a first-person narrative, spoken by the protagonist, a descendant who carries the legacy of a war hero. Through his eyes, we witness the male gender's disproportionate representation among those compelled to bear the burden of war. During the conflict of the first World War, African males typically formed the majority of the carriers and porters, and faced higher risk of being captured or killed on the battlefield. The portrayal of the protagonist's journey as a porter provides insight into the gendered impact of war. Stripped away from their families and communities, these young men become the pillars of strength upon which the war effort rested. However, their sacrifice extended beyond the physical realm, we see how they endured the emotional toll of leaving their loved ones behind, leaving the villages exposed and vulnerable in their absence.
The First World War's devastating effects extend beyond the immediate conflicts, causing irreparable damage to communities and families. With the focus on the indigenous context, "Left Behind" highlights the destruction of human capital, eroding the fabric of society for generations to come. The toll on these young men reverberates through their descendants, leaving a legacy of trauma and unhealed wounds. Yet, as the story goes, the repercussions of war do not end with the last shot fired. The aftermath is one of neglect and unequal commemoration. Unlike their European counterparts, the sacrifices of African porters remain largely unmarked and unremembered, as their graves go unnoticed, and their stories fade into oblivion. This unequal remembrance perpetuates the gendered impact of war, deepening the wounds of those left behind.
As the narrative unfolds, "Left Behind" explores the intertwined relationship between war, masculinity, and societal expectations. While it is essential to critically examine historical events and their impact, acknowledging the contributions and hardships faced by all individuals impacted by the war is important. Through this animated journey, we aim to shed light on the gendered dimensions of war, exposing the hidden narratives of those who bore the weight of conflict. "Left Behind" seeks to honour the forgotten and to challenge societal perceptions, bridging the gap between the past and present to ensure that the sacrifices of these brave souls are remembered, acknowledged, and never relegated to the shadows of history.
- Purity Wairimu, student
- Jake Mungai, student
- Felix Odhiambo, student
- Flora Okuku-Muere, lecturer
- Emman Kianga, lecturer
- Martin Khamala, lecturer
St. Martins University
- Paolina Stefani, student
- Christina Poon, student
- Joe Craig, student
- Michelle Salamon, lecturer
- Katie Russell, lecturer