South African actress and L’Oréal, Pumi and Audi brand ambassador, Nomzamo Mbatha, is the
current cover star for International Pan-African magazine, Glam Africa. The cover which sees her
rocking her signature afro has made many of her followers wonder what a superhero with an afro
would look like.
Fashion illustrator, Kiara (@thekiaraworld), has since brought this to life in an illustration that has
gained attention on Instagram. In this illustration, Nomzamo is depicted as a beautiful, afro-haired
warrior but a superhero nonetheless, and we don’t see why this wouldn’t sell as the lead role in a
Sure, TV shows like Queen Sugar, Being Mary Jane, Scandal, How To Get Away With Murder, and
now Grown-ish are doing a great job of showcasing a variation of ‘black girl magic’, and lead black
women who differ in shade, occupation, education, and temperament, and they have also done well to
reveal the possibilities of a strong black woman, but why does it seem to all stop at that? Why not cast
more black/African women as lead superheroes?
The lack of diversity in mainstream superhero films was emphasized at the release of Wonder
Woman last year. This film was heavily criticized for the lack of black cast members. Think about
why we are comparing Nomzamo to Wonder Woman. Where is her African or black counterpart?
Would we not be better off comparing her to Nubia, Wonder Woman’s dark-skinned sister who many
haven’t heard about.
There are many other female African superheroes in the world of Marvel and D.C. comics that are just
not as recognizable as their white counterparts; they are often not leading protagonists but supporting
characters, something that has come up in some of the DC vs. Marvel analysis found online. We think of characters such as Storm (Ororo Munroe) from X-Men, Vixen from Suicide
Squad (she is also a member of the Justice League) and Misty Knight who works with
superheroes such as the X-Men, Spider-Man, Iron Man, and Mr. Fantastic. Black Panther is a good
place to start in rectifying the lack of diversity. In its depiction of a fictional African, this film
renegotiates the stereotypical representation of “the African” in cinematic experiences.
With the upcoming release of the Black Panther movie, there is the excitement that it will challenge
some of the ways Africa and African people are typically depicted in the mainstream media as it
suggests themes of Western imperialism, colonialism, and neo-colonialism in Africa; And maybe it
will kick off the female African hero trend.
To lend your voice and ask for change, use the hashtag #SuperNomzamo. There’s at least one new
superhero movie released each year, so hopefully this hashtag will inspire the much-needed change on