The first Ethiopian superhero comic is fusing the various parts of African history and culture into one contemporary and relatable story.
“Jember” from Etan Comics was written and created by Beserat Debebe and tells the story about a recent college graduate on a job search in Addis Ababa who comes across extraordinary powers. Amanuel Tilahun is transformed into Jember and readers can grab issue #1 to discover who the hero really is, where the powers came from and how they’ll transform Tilahun’s life.
“Amanuel’s story shows that a hero is not defined by where he/she comes from, or what he/she has accomplished, or his/her (super) abilities, Debebe told OkayAfrica Tuesday, May 15. “Heroes are defined by the choices they make, their will and desire to do what is right, despite the difficulty of circumstances and irrespective of the recognition they might get.”
Setting the plot apart, Debebe used African history, culture and mythology to tell Jember’s story. The Kingdom of Punt, an ancient East African civilization, plays a major role in the book’s creation.
“Our mission with Etan Comics is to entertain, empower, and educate our fans. We hope to entertain our audiences with fresh fantasy stories based on African history and mythology, and set in present-day African countries,” Debebe explained. “We want to empower the current and future generation of Africans and challenge them to expand their imagination by showing them we strive to portray superheroes that rise from African cities and stand as the symbol for justice, peace, equality, hope and love for their community and the world. We aim to broaden our readers’ perspectives about Africa by depicting a narrative that encourages everyone to learn more about the continents rich history, culture, and innovative day to day life.”
The first issue of “Jemba” is on sale now and is available in English and Amharic, each of which contains slang and proverbs unique to the languages to tell the same story.
Fans who have snagged a copy have been delighted with the effort.
“I am so very happy with the way the comic universe is going in Ethiopia [because] of your incredible work,” a Facebook user wrote.
“I have nothing more to say rather than THANK YOU…..you [guys] accomplished it when no one could so from bottom of my heart thank you,” another said. “[I] am excited to see the next one…keep it going #jember.”
“Loved it,” someone else said. “Keep up the good work.”
Issue #2 is available for pre-order now and will be on sale on Aug. 24, 2018.