June 14, 2024
Art Gallery

UJ Art Gallery to Spotlight African Superheroes!

An exciting exhibition in Jozi is gearing up to reconnect young South Africans with our rainbow nation legacy as African superheroes are showcased and new possibilities are imagined!


Johannesburg, South Africa (04 June 2024) — Mainstream superheroes might have different backgrounds, varying superpowers and distinct personalities. But, most tend to have one thing in common (that is, beyond being superheroes)—they rarely represent Africa or African stories. Where are the African superheroes beyond fictional places like Wakanda?

Challenging the Westernised idea of the superhero, the University of Johannesburg Art Gallery is set to host ‘African Hero’—a creative effort to ‘Africanise the superhero aesthetic for local audiences’, as UJ shares, all while spotlighting African-value-centric storytelling.

Not only is it a challenge for authentic representation, it’s also a push-back on stereotypes African characters get lumped with across genres. This matters as much as self-representation does—a lot.

Thanks to Rainbow Nation Comics’ Phemelo Dibodu and Omphile Dibodu (both of whom are UJ alumni), African Hero is coming to life. Through their work, the idea to change the narrative and ignite South African patriotism is underway thanks to there protagonist, Young Nelson.

Using art and technology, a one-minute comic book trailer showcases Young Nelson—a way to reconnect, especially the younger generation of South Africa, with our Rainbow Nation legacy.

“Young Nelson symbolises the youth of South grappling with the modern-day challenges confronting the nation. He is a reminder that they are ambitious, resilient, tenacious, fearless and embody a spirit of unwavering determination,” says UJ.

With efforts from Afro Geek (a community focused on empowerment through and for diversity led by Tapelo Zama and Neo Mothoagae), the spotlight also extends to African creators like award-winning comic book artist Bill Masuku and artist Trevor Ngwenya (Kubo Art).

The exhibition will showcase everything from digital art prints to T-shirt art and physical comic books as we are all invited to explore African Superheroes imagined and real.

Visitors are encouraged to cosplay their favourite characters, get creative and enjoy the experience set to open on 8 June and run until 12 July at the UJ art Gallery (APK Campus on the Corner of Kingsway Avenue/University Road in Auckland Park).

Sources: University of Johannesburg Arts & Culture
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