A comic book featuring Steve Biko, who died 37 years ago in September, has been published as part of the Africa Illustrated series.
The book, which is aimed at children, is the result of a combined effort by the Steve Biko Foundation and comic production company Umlando Wezithombe, who have already produced works on Xhosa prophet Nongqawuse, World War II veteran Job Maseko and the Curse of Mapungubwe.
Steve Biko tells the story of the black consciousness activist’s life, from his birth and first incarceration, to his death in 1977.
View excerpts from the graphic novel below.
Nic Buchanan, creative director at Umlando Wezithombe, told Books LIVE a little about the Biko project.
How did the idea for the Steve Biko graphic novel come about?
The response from most children, when asked about studying history, is a long face and an indication of the overwhelming text books. We wanted to take Steve Biko’s story and put it into an engaging format, one that could reach children of a young age, and so the storytelling and picture combination was perfect.
Can you tell us about the process of translating the life and philosophy of Steve Biko into this form?
To make any comic book is a huge labour of love. We start with researching all material available, then it goes to scriptwriting, storyboarding (where we lay out the balance of visuals and script), illustration, inking (fine line tracing over the illustrations), colouring (on computer, adding all the visual effects), lettering, print preparation and finally printing. There are numerous skills required along the way, and so it’s not just about drawing nice pictures.
How do you think this story will be beneficial to preteen and teenage readers?
The feedback has been amazing. The young readers always want to know why all their study material can’t be in this format. What is probably the most interesting feedback is that it sparks an interest for them to learn more about Steve Biko, so the comic has given a platform for them to investigate deeper.
Why is it important for young people to understand Steve Biko’s legacy?
He contributed so much to this country from such a young age, and young people can learn from him, and grow using his learnings.
If readers take only one thing away from this book, what would you like it to be?
That they have a proud history with role models to light the way.