Photo credit to ETAN COMICS, from their video “ETAN COMICS presents JEMBER | The first Ethiopian Superhero Comic Book”
2018 proved to be a big year for heroes. From the page to the screen, loved and loathed characters alike captivated audiences and left us all wanting more.
Superheroes made a big impression at the box office with Disney’s Black Panther. The film introduced audiences to Marvel Comics’ first African superhero with a star-studded cast and plenty of action! In case we haven’t made it obvious: We. Love. Black. Panther.
The super-powered King of Wakanda may be a household name for comic book fans, but he’s not the only hero to emerge out of the continent. These four African heroes are sure to inspire you:
— Charl Blignaut (@sa_poptart) August 17, 2017
Chances are, you won’t find many people who can’t name a Marvel superhero. That’s why it’s such a big deal for Marvel Comics to finally have a superhero from a real African country: Ngozi!
Ngozi battles evil in Lagos in the comic Blessing in Disguise, appearing alongside characters from Venom and Black Panther. Nigeria’s Chibok girls, a group of about 220 schoolgirls taken by Boko Haram in 2014, serve as inspiration for this character. Nnedi Okorafor, the comic’s writer, wanted Ngozi to resonate with the country’s young girls.
“They were normal girls who suddenly had to deal with a huge change in their lives … and their story of perseverance is so powerful,” Okorafor says. “Like many Nigerian girls, Ngozi comes in a small package but is strong-willed and determined.”
Amanuel, a recent college graduate, struggles to find a path for himself. After failing to solidify his career and join his girlfriend in the United States, he faces difficult decisions that send him down an entirely new path.
The comic sets itself apart through deep roots into the history and mythology of East Africa. The Kingdom of Punt, an ancient East African civilization, plays a key role in the story. Amanuel’s story builds out of the past, while also taking great care to reflect modern day Ethiopia in a positive light.
Growing up, artist Loyiso Mkize was always waiting for the first South African superhero to emerge. Seeing that no one else was going to do it, he set out to create that hero. His creation, Kwezi, is now the first South African comic book to be sold by a major retailer!
This coming-of-age story follows 19-year-old Kwezi. After discovering his unique powers, he begins to grapple with how to responsibly use them. At the same time he struggles with trying to stay true to his roots in the big city of Johannesburg. Each comic is rich with local slang, jokes, and issues, all with the goal of having a hero that represents South African youth.
“I really believe that our children could do with images like that,” says Mkize. “In fact, our society in general could do with images like that. Images that are unapologetically themselves, and a positive image of how we’re portrayed – there’s so much power in that.”
Fed up with the lack of African superheroes, Jide Martin founded Comic Republic. This 2013 start-up now has a whole line of comics and characters!
Comic Republic’s flagship character, Guardian Prime, is described as “the perfect man.” This character follows a line of guardians, born every 2000 years to protect the human race. Now that it’s his turn, he protects Nigeria with his powers, including super-human strength and speed, heightened senses, and the ability to fly.
“This hero [was] designed to give us faith to see that our actions and words could indeed make a difference and throw a positive light on Nigeria to a global audience” says Martin.
These fictional superheroes are inspiring new generations to reach their full potential. But, extreme poverty continues to stand in their way. Join the fight against extreme poverty and help create a world where everyone has a fair chance to do something super!