The comic book uncovering new perspectives on heroism and storytelling

The Ordinary Superheroes celebrates the everyday heroes of South Africa's resilient communities.

Using storytelling to rethink traditional perceptions of heroism, the Ordinary Superheroes project is a social initiative encouraging everyday citizens to recognise the heroes all around them. Merging real stories from Khayelitsha, a township in South Africa, with ancient African storytelling and superhero action, this exciting project seeks to challenge the dominant narratives of ‘superheroes’ in today's society, shifting the perspective to the real heroes already uplifting their communities on a daily basis. 

Ordinary Superheroes

Ziphozakhe Hlobo, Nicole Leonards, Lena Posch, Xolisa Tamarana and Pacifique King make up the team behind Ordinary Superheroes. Through the mixed-media nature afforded by comic books, they intend to present a crop of imagined heroes and role models grounded in a more universal context to awaken and inspire a new generation of young South Africans.

Their pilot issue, due for launch this weekend, was inspired by adventurer, alpinist, poet and youth leader from Khayelitsha Monde Sitole. A member of the first class to attend school onboard the SV Concordia, as part of the class afloat international school based in Nova Scotia, he was later chosen to partake in the Mike Horn Young Explorers Camp in Switzerland. Currently on a quest to summit the seven highest mountains in the world, Sitole’s remarkable story inspired the fictional tale of Themba.

“Themba grows up haunted by ‘otherworldliness’ and adventure, a complex juxtaposition to the limitations of the township gang violence he finds acceptance and excitement in,” the synopsis provided by Ordinary Superheroes reveals. “He will soon discover another world that lies beneath the surface of the dusty streets and enter a journey to the mountain of self-discovery and transformation. But, as with all fulfilling journeys, it will not be without turbulence, which he must overcome.” 

The Ordinary Superheroes will release of this debut issue at Moholo Live House in Khayelitsha, South Africa on 24 September and in Cape Town on 25 September. Described as an open process exhibition, it will include a work-in-progress exhibition, a “Super-heroism” workshop, as well as a live drawing demonstrations, storytelling and an open dialogue. You can find more information about the project on the Ordinary Superheroes Facebook page