JEDI Screens First-Generation Animation Series, “The Matumbilas”

Feb 15, 2024
Zul Manzi, a Tanzanian-American content creator, is standing in front of a blue poster of trees. He is dressed in a long-sleeve, blue sweater and holds a microphone in his hand. He's speaking to a crowd of people who've gathered to watch his original show, "The Matimbulas".

Zul Manzi.

As part of Black History Month, the Division of Justice, Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion (JEDI)  recently screened the popular television series,“The Matumbilas.” The Matumbilas was created by Zul Manzi, a Tanzanian-American content producer who was born and raised in Springfield, with a Westfield State alum, Mimi Mgawe '18, acting as the series' line producer.

The series was created in 2019 and features a Tanzanian-American family who navigates a small, fictional town in Massachusetts called “Hopeland”, while simultaneously having nuanced discussions and experiences about culture and identity within a sleepy, New England setting. Episodes can be streamed on kweliTV, a Black-owned streaming service that offers television shows, movies, anime, and documentaries.

A close-up of a projector screen. "The Matimbilas", an animation about a Tanzanian-American family, is on the screen. The title is in a blocky, yellow font, and the animated family pose in front of a white house. Several silhouettes can be seen in front of the projector.
"The Matumbilas", which can be streamed on kweliTV.

Manzi, also a comedian, described parsing material from his own stand-up routines and using it as inspiration for the series, along with his own experiences from public school as a Tanzanian-American citizen. The official description for the series can be found on Manzi’s website:

“When Hashim and Zainat immigrated from Tanzania to a small city named Hopeland in Massachusetts, their goal was to build an infrastructure for their future kids. They didn’t expect that their “future kids”, Amina, Rajab, and Zulfiqar would have their own interests.

Fake conspiracies, Trap Music, and Halal Gyros. Hashim and Zainat Matumbila try to implement they're Tanzanian cultural upbringing to Amina, Rajab, and Zulfiqar Matumbila, however everyone is trying to balance their Tanzanian roots, on American soil.”

As part of the series’ promotion, Manzi and his team will be traveling across New England and visiting schools such as Drexel University, Columbia University, Syracuse University, Rutgers University, and New York Film Academy, where they will showcase an episode from The Matumbilas.