The power of storytelling: 'African Hero' at UJ Art Gallery

Jun 8 - Jul 12 2024       University of Johannesburg Kingsway Campus, Auckland Park
Impactful local storytelling meets comic art for the multimedia showcase African Hero at UJ Art Gallery. Publishers of South African comic books, Rainbow Nation Comics, and community organisation Afro Geek join forces for this playful exhibition which seeks to "Africanise the superhero aesthetic" and celebrate stories rooted in African values.

As the organisers note, "Historically the portrayal of African characters in mainstream media and popular culture has been fraught with stereotypes and misrepresentations. This exhibition aims to focus on African heroes reclaiming narratives of African agency, challenging colonial legacies, and affirming the importance of self-representation." 

Phemelo Dibodu and Omphile Dibodu are the duo behind Rainbow Nation Comics. Suggested by their name, they're striving to re-awaken the spirit of South African patriotism that was alive and well in the days of Nelson Mandela and his compatriots, highlighting principles like ubuntu. For African Hero, they collaborated with UJ multimedia students to produce a one-minute comic book trailer featuring the main hero in their comics, Young Nelson. A nod to one of our nation's greatest leaders, this tenacious figure speaks to the youth of South Africa and the challenges our country faces in the present day.
Rainbow Nation Comics' central character Young Nelson is an inspiration to South African youth. Photo: Rainbow Nation Comics. 

Celebrating all aspects of "Afro geekdom," Tapelo Zama and Neo Mothoagae are the founders of Afro Geek, a vibrant community dedicated to diversity and empowerment in the entertainment industry. Their platform is for underrepresented creators, particularly within the black community, to share their talents. For African Hero, they're bringing work by award-winning Zimbabwean comic book artist Bill Masuku and comic artist Trevor Ngwenya, known to many of his fans as Kubo Art, into the spotlight. 

Everything from digital art prints to graphic T-shirts makes up this mixed-media exhibition, which also includes comic books and music exploring the idea of modern heroism within an African context.

To activate the exhibition and stir your own creativity, there are a series of free, hour-long writing, drawing, and music workshops as part of African HeroRSVP here

Sat, Jun 22 from 12:00 – 13:00 – Write a comic book story with Phemelo Dibodu and Tapelo Zama in part one of Create your own Hero.

Sat, Jun 29 from 12:00 – 13:00 – Learn how to draw for comic books with Omphile Dibudu and Tapelo Zama in part two of Create your own Hero.

Sat, Jul 6 from 12:00 – 13:00 – Explore the art of storytelling through music, song, and dance with Phemelo Dibodu.



Open 09:00-16:00. Closed Sat, Sun. Jun 8 2024 - Jul 12 2024
UJ Art Gallery
University of Johannesburg Kingsway Campus, Auckland Park

Price/Additional Info

Free entrance

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