A little over two years ago, South African Sci-fi writer Lauren Beukes collaborated with D. C. Comics on a Wonder Woman series about two black girls living in a Soweto Suburb [read HERE if you missed it].
Okorafor’s recent collaboration with Marvel Comics takes things a step forward. Her story is not just Wonder Woman and other DC comics heroes trading exploits in an African city. Okorafor’s story, written for Marvel’s Venomverse anthology, stars a Nigerian girl named Ngozi who lives in Lagos. So yes, we now have a superhero with a household Nigerian name.
The 8-page comic is titled “Blessing in Disguise”—also a common Nigerian saying. Ngozi, whose name means blessing and who happens to be in a wheelchair, has superhero powers that she uses to fight villains. How cool is that! A female character with a common and very relatable Nigerian name wielding the power to change her world for the better.
The best part of this project is that it is inspired, in part, by the Chibok girls. A few years ago, the Nigerian terrorist group Boko Haram kidnapped over 200 girls from a secondary school. Some of them returned home. Others have not yet rejoined their family. It was and still is a national tragedy. As Reuters reports, Okorafor wants readers to situate the exploits of her character within the context of these girls who inspired a nation and the world with the story of their survival in the face of unspeakable trauma.
It was an important decision for me to base Ngozi on one of the Chibok 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…Like many Nigerian girls, Ngozi comes in a small package but is strong-willed and determined.
Ngozi is not the first Nigerian superhero in the Marvel imprint. But her story is the first to take an everyday African context for granted. The ordinariness of the character and her world is what gives Okorafor’s story it’s charm and power.
“Blessing in Disguise” is an 8-page comic published in Marvel’s debut series called Venomverse. The stunning illustration (pictured above) is the work of celebrated illustrator Tana Ford who has also worked with D.C. Comics and Vertigo.
Kudos to Okorafor for finding new ways to fuel our love for African storytelling.
Post image via Nnedi Okorafor’s Instagram page.