By Ange Ngu Thomas
You will never see Superman in any film or video game fighting valiantly to defeat Boko Haram Islamist terrorists in Nigeria. Neither will you see Spiderman in any shape or form struggling to defeat Somali Pirates off the horn of Africa. Ever thought Batman will appear in a film or video game fighting to defeat Al-Shabab Islamists terrorist in Somalia?
These things will never happen. Those action superheroes were created to fight against the evils in western countries. Africa was never in the game plan of their creators. Africa therefore needs to create its own superheroes. That is exactly what a young Ghanaian and Kenyan developers have done.
For just $1 from the Apple App store, you can get Iwarrior, an app on the Iphone that will give you unlimited access to mobiles games themed around African super heroes. Welcome to the world of interactive mobile games and African super heroes.. We don’t need Superman, Spiderman or Batman according to the creators of Leti Games Eyram Tawia, CEO and Wesley Kirinya Chief Technical Officer of Leti Games.
Iwarrior incorporates a lot of African based music and colour. The player follows the heroes as they try like Superman or Batman, to protect their villages from invaders. Like Superman or Batman, they win in the end thereby saying Africans really don’t need foreign heroes to protect them against the many ills plaguing the continent. Exotic animals like elephants, Cheetahs, Lions, hyenas give the games an added African based feel.
“Africa needs to make it’s super heroes known to the world” CEO Eyram Tawia tells the BBC Newsday Programme, “You could see in the western world, they created superman, they created Spiderman because there was so much war, so much crime and people just needed super heroes to cling to .
Those things are happening in Africa and Africans need their own superheroes to cling to. They don’t need coming to save them, to give them food or fight malaria. We need to know there is a captain Africa, there is a Shaka the Zulu who can chant and kill everyone, drive away wars and fight piracy in Somalia”.
Leti (means Star or moon in Ewe, a local Ghanaian Language ) Games was founded by two budding entrepreneurs Eyram Akofa-Tawia and Wesley Kirinya. Like Lagos based Kuluya.com Leti Games is an effort by African based young entrepreneurs to make a strong point that Africans too are creative and can produce games that can compete against any on the world market.
They refused to be bugged down by the fact that internet lines are slow across the continent, few people have really good quality smartphones (China has flooded the continent with cheap smartphones) and paying methods online are risky with few people having any PayPal accounts or bank cards. They just decided they will let their imaginations run wild and create while hoping power supplies improve and many more Africans have easy access to the internet and reliable online payment methods.
The developers exploit African values, rich cultural heritage, and strong traditional beliefs in creating their characters or super heroes. They place them in locations any African can easily identify; the village.
Leti Games has a website where they say the company was started by “two friends brought together by their passion for innovation, creativity and change”.The vision of the company is to “create the next African superheroes via comics and games “
Biopic of Founders.
Wesley Kirinya is Chief Technical Officer of Leti Games and is based in Nairobi, Kenya. He showed his entrepreneurial flair by creating three start-up companies by the time he was 30 years old.
Wesley is another proof that you don’t need a university degree to be innovative as Apple’s Steve Job and Microsoft’s Bill Gates have aptly demonstrated. He dropped out of two universities to devote full time attention to creating mobile and commercial apps. In 2008, he won top prize in Africa’s ICT Youth Innovation award for his first video game. He divides his time between Nairobi Kenya where he was born and Accra Ghana where Leti Games is based.
Eyram Tawia is the Chief Executive Officer of the company. Like Wesley, Eyram is an award winning designer. He won the 2012 British Council Young Creative Entrepreneurs Media Award. He is a graduate of the Nkwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology in Kumasi.
Unlike Wesley who dropped out of University, Eyram decided to stay on to learn how to take the comic strips he liked drawing on paper to the mobile phone. When he met Wesley, they clicked, talked a bit and the result was Leti Games.
My African Super heroes.
I decided to create my own list of African action or super heroes Mandiba-Man. A big boxing super hero who will be fighting against all that is evil and discriminatory in a fictional mixed race African country. Easy to guess this one; inspiration is Nelson Mandela.
LumPa-Man.A fierce looking tall, lanky superhero who will be fighting against post-colonial injustices in Africa. Patrice Lumumba, assassinated Congolese leader inspired this hero.
Sanka-TMan. A military superhero who fights to drive out post colonial exploiters from Africa. Thomas Sankara, assassinated president of Burkina Faso is the inspiration for this character.
I have no idea when I will create my own app for that.
Who are your own African superheroes?
Let’s play a game…