This month, Marvel debuts its first ever Nigerian superhero, Ngozi. The 8-page comic, called “Blessing in Disguise”, is written by award-wining science fiction writer Nnedi Okorafor. And while this may be the first of its kind for the comic powerhouse, it’s certainly not the first in Africa. For the past few years, African artists have been creating comics inspired by the world around them.
“In general, the villains that inspire Western comics are based on Western history. If you look at a villain like Kingpin in Spiderman, it’s inspired by early organized crime and historic figures like Al Capone,” says South African comic creator Loyiso Mkize. “In Africa, that’s extremely unrelatable. We’ve never had crime syndicates like that or organizations like the FBI. Instead, we’ve had to identify villains like dictators, warlords, Somali pirates.”
It’s a sentiment shared by Jide Martin, founder of Comic Republic in Nigeria. “I come from a country where corruption was a thing. I thought about what were the things that made me do the right thing,” says Martin.
“I remember, when I had a tough decision, I thought, What would Superman or Batman do? Why not create characters that look like me and I could write some kind of moral lesson.”
And that’s exactly what Martin, Mkize and others are doing. So what powers do African superheroes hold? Find out on this episode of The Stream.
On this episode of The Stream, we speak with:
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