Omanga, Duncan: "‘Akokhan returns’. Kenyan newspaper comics and the making of an ‘African’ superhero." In: Journal of African Cultural Studies 28.3 (2016), S. 262–274.
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|Resource type: Journal Article
BibTeX citation key: Omanga2016
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Keywords: "Akokhan", Africa, Comic strip, Ghana, Interculturalism, Kenia, Odoi. Frank, Superhero
Collection: Journal of African Cultural Studies
‘Where grass has grown, grass will grow’ was a common phrase capturing the invincibility of Akokhan, a naturalized Kenyan superhero created by Ghanaian-Kenyan cartoonist Frank Odoi. Described as ‘Africa’s Hergé or Urdezo’ by his colleagues, Frank Odoi migrated to Kenya from his native Ghana in the early 1970s and was largely credited with the ability of appropriating African folklore into a template akin to that of the Marvel comic superheroes. Using his most celebrated work, Akokhan, a comic strip that appeared at different times in all three major Kenyan daily newspapers (Daily Nation, The Standard, The Star), this paper seeks to make tentative steps towards a characterization of an African comic superhero. Although legitimate questions arise as to whether a ‘single text’ can account for an entire continent, the paper argues that Akokhan’s transnational character, not just in the biographical migration of its creator but also in its content and its intended readership, mark it out as an important text in delineating an African superhero. The Akokhan comic series positions Tonkazan, the ultimate embodiment of evil against Akokhan, his deadly opposite who occupies the ambiguous position of the misunderstood superhero. The story is largely, if not wholly, drawn from Ghanaian folklore, complete with references to cultural artefacts, labels and social contexts that are obviously West African but are able to transcend both time and space. I argue that Akokhan as African Superhero is a product of both remediation and syncretism.
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