25 March 2019

Ethiopia: Hawi - Ethiopia's First Female Superhero Comic

Photo: ThisisAfrica
Ethiopia Gets Its First Female Superhero Comic

Beserat Debebe, the creator of Ethiopia's superhero comic "Jember" and the founder of Etan Comics, brings to life the country's first female superhero comic, "Hawi". The comic tells the tale of a young Ethiopian woman, named Ement Legesse, who has to rescue her mother after she is abducted.

Hawi is described as a historical fantasy that is set in modern-day Ethiopia and draws from the mysteries of the kingdoms and queendoms of Ethiopia's rich past. Created by Etan Comic's founder Beserat Debebe and a host of talented African illustrators, the comic's visuals depict the vivacious past and present of Ethiopia while creating a singular comicverse.

In its reflection of the past, the comic features one of Ethiopia's most prolific women, Queen Yodit Gudit, a 10th-century ruler whose Amharic nickname, Esato, means "fire". She is remembered for her fiery spirit and reputation for burning down architectural landmarks, including churches, following her great conquests. Her legacy has unfortunately been eroded over time and her inclusion in this modern tale is a demonstration that greatness can never truly be forgotten.

Business Insider called Hawi "a story about returning to one's roots and having the courage to rise above the challenges that come with seeking reconciliation and belonging. It's one we can all relate to, whether literally or figuratively."

Debebe told OkayAfrica, "The fact that Hawi is Ethiopian means a lot to me." For him, having an Ethiopian superhero is meant to normalise the idea that Ethiopians and Africans in general can have an impact on the world. "I wish I had seen an Ethiopian superhero growing up," he said. "I would have embraced my ability to make a difference earlier and acted on it... Most of the time, the way we think about ourselves is the main barrier to our own progress."

Debebe went on to explain that his biggest hope is for all of his superhero characters to take away these barriers and allow boundless imagination among the African youth. "And have as much fun as possible doing it!" he adds.

According to the synopsis, Hawi follows the story of Ement Legesse, a young Ethiopian woman living in America with her mother. In the opening scenes of the comic book, it becomes apparent that Ement desperately wants to visit Ethiopia on a guided tour, but her mother is against the idea. According to her, Ement can barely speak their native Amharic language and fears for her safety, given that numerous young girls have been abducted in Ethiopia. It is clear that Ement is frustrated by her mother's refusal to allow her to visit her home country. As the story progresses, the two eventually visit Ethiopia together (yay!) only for Ement's mother to be abducted (oh no!). This is where the story really begins. Now, we won't tell you how Ement obtains her dope superhero abilities but what we can tell you is what inspires them...

Hawi is almost complete and will be available in Amharic and English.

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