Welcome to the first part of the 22nd century and gender equality is no longer a pipe dream… well, mostly. From first female presidents to female business moguls and entrepreneurs, the month of March is about Women all over the world, their achievements and what they stand for. It’s all about girl power and topping the list of our overachieving women are the African queens and goddess making magic happen a little closer to home.
Women Comic Creators In Africa
1. Marguerite Abouet
Aya of Yop City is the brainchild of Marguerite Abouet and the foremost body of work when it comes to African graphic novels. The graphic novel revolves around a 19-year old Aya, her friends and their families and explores what living was like in the working class suburb of Abidjan, Ivory Coast circa 1970. This emerged from Abouet’s desire to showcase Africa without focusing on the overdone war and famine narratives. Aya is her first published work and also her first venture into graphic novels. The story has been adapted into an animated film co-directed by Abouet.
2. Comfort Arthur
Comfort Arthur is a Ghanaian editor, illustrator and animator popular for her quirky art style highlighted in her film Black Barbie and her comic, Social Media Zombies. She’s also the creator of the Naughty Nii series which she exhibited at the Chale Wote Street Art Festival in 2017.
3. Carine Umutoniwase
Carine is a Kenyan writer, activist and a member of the youth organization Footprints for Change, which aims to transform Kenyan youth by exposing them to values, knowledge, and skills that promote an accountable society through innovative training in leadership for different enterprises. She’s the author of the Alednam comic which spelt backwards is Mandela. Alednam seeks to bring out everyday living in our societies and the challenges we face and moreover highlight what we as young people can do. Talk about hope.
Connect with Carine on Facebook
4. Cassandra Mark
Cassandra Mark is a Scriptwriter, Digital colour artist and Creative consultant at the Comic Republic. She is both Colorist and writer of popular African kids Comic Hero Kekere. She’s also a contributor at Squid Magazine.
Watch her below talking about what art means to her on International Women’s Day.
5. Nnedi Okorafor
Nnedi describes herself as a “NaijaAmerican professor and international award-winning author of science fiction, juju fantasy, mystical realism and whatever”. Here’s what that means. She’s a Nigerian-American badass with a writing portfolio as glorious as the universe. She’s the author of Zahra and the Windseeker and Who Fears Death (which is being adapted into a series produced by George RR Martin) among others. She’s also penning a comic series on the Dora Milaje from Black Panther, Antar (due out on April 5 and published by IDW) and an unnamed project with Dark Horse comics.
I’m not just writing stuff with Marvel. I’m writing Antar, have my own graphic novel coming out with Dark Horse, have a nonfiction coming out next year and am in the editing phase with my next novel Remote Control (set in near future Ghana, DAW Books). pic.twitter.com/t7lfBiMFa6
— Nnedi Okorafor, PhD (@Nnedi) March 19, 2018
Jepchumba is technically not a comic artist but her work promoting African digital art including comics over the years is groundbreaking, to say the least. In fact, she’s one of the inspirations for Squid Mag at least for me. She runs African Digital Art, which is arguably the leading source of African digital art in the world. She recently celebrated a decade of showcasing African creativity through her African digital art platform.
7. Amanda Chaniwa
Amanda Chaniwa is a 24-year-old Sociology student at Women’s University in Africa. She’s the co-author of Drama Mama with Bill Masuku.Drama Mama is a comic about five Zimbabwean girls and how they cope with their present realities. Amanda is also the writer of a light novel called A Culture of Our Own. As a young female writer in a male-dominated industry, she aims to bring a more feminine touch to comics like never before in Zimbabwe and the rest of the world.
Connect with her on Twitter. Catch her below talking about Mama Drama.
8. Reine Dibussi
Reine Bekoe Dibussi is a Cameroonian-French, 2D illustrator, portraitst and author of the Mulatako, a comic that tells the adventures of a Jengu (water spirit) who decides to take in hand the fate of other Miengu (plural of Jengu) after a grand council decides to exterminate initiation, thus beginning a race for the survival of the condemned Miengu. Mulatako is basically a science-fiction/fantasy comic, inspired by the mythology of Sawa, Cameroon, and more precisely the myth of mami-wata, also called miengu in the Duala and Malimba languages.
These are some of the women creators in comics that I know and believe you should too. I’m confident I missed a whole lot. Who did I miss? Kindly comment their names (and relevant links) so I can add to this list. This is nowhere near comprehensive but it’s an important start for me. Special mention goes to Afua Richardson, Venus Bambisa, Adanna Onuekwusi, EMY aka Eguvwe Majomi Yubgovwre (creator of Aje & Kpako), Najilau Dramundujm and all the awesome women creatives who continue to inspire.
*Cover image by Kelechi Isaac Nwaogwugwu with colours by Cassandra Mark.