Featured workPhetogo Tshepo Mahasha: Yiy

Produced for American musician Muhsinah, the animated music video Yiy tells the story of an African child as he climbs a cascade-like high rise, step by step, using many ladders. Arriving at the top, the child is threatened by a man with a snake’s head, causing him to fall all the way down. After asking a traditional healer for advice, he undertakes a new ascent, finally reaching the top.

When designing this short film, animator Phetogo Tshepo Mahasha mixed components of modernism with elements of African tradition. The act of climbing, for example, was taken from the well-known board game Snakes and Ladders. The high building resembles traditional African clay huts stacked to form a modernist skyscraper. The medicine man does not throw magic bones in order to help the child find its way, but uses dice. The child wears a pantomime mask and is not able to speak. According to Mahasha, the child symbolizes African children who have no voice in the global discourse. The protagonist experiences events in a dream sequence, receiving advice from his ancestors in a traditional African story arch. Finally, the child climbs up a long ladder leading to heaven – thus reaching a promising future, where his path is lined with pictures of colourful blossoming flowers.

  • Animated movie, 3 min 21 sec. Courtesy of Phetogo Tshepo Mahasha © Phetogo Tshepo Mahasha (animation), Muhsina (music)

    Phetogo Tshepo Mahasha. Yiy, 2010
  • Animated movie, 3 min 21 sec. Courtesy of Phetogo Tshepo Mahasha © Phetogo Tshepo Mahasha (animation), Muhsina (music)

    Phetogo Tshepo Mahasha. Yiy, 2010
  • Animated movie, 3 min 21 sec. Courtesy of Phetogo Tshepo Mahasha © Phetogo Tshepo Mahasha (animation), Muhsina (music)

    Phetogo Tshepo Mahasha. Yiy, 2010
  • Animated movie, 3 min 21 sec. Courtesy of Phetogo Tshepo Mahasha © Phetogo Tshepo Mahasha (animation), Muhsina (music)

    Phetogo Tshepo Mahasha. Yiy, 2010