Storytelling is a powerful tool that can build or break the spirit of a generation. Growing up I had a pair of parents who made certain I learned of the greatness of my people, African people. The people who gifted the world with cultural and scientific marvels from the very beginnings of human existence.
I did not know until I was much older how privileged I was to have access to this knowledge in my youth. These precious stories weren’t in my school textbooks. While my classmates may have known about Marvel’s Black Panther, they knew nothing of the heroics of François-Dominique Toussaint L’Ouverture the brilliant military strategist and leader of the Haitian Revolution.
My peers had never heard of King Shaka of the Zulu Nation of South Africa or Queen Nzinga of Ndongo and Matamba (Angola).
I grew up knowing about the existence of African kings and queens in the way that others studied the origins of the European monarchies of old. There was something special about seeing royal dynasties filled with people who looked like members of my family and I am grateful to my parents for finding and helping me find the books that lit my path to learning these stories and so many more. Looking back now, I know it wasn’t easy. In the 1980’s there weren’t a lot of easily accessible stories about African heroes and achievements in the West. Why African history isn’t a part of our history offerings in the U.S. when European and in some cases Asian history are I encourage you to ask your local school boards. What I know is that those stories empowered and inspired me.
And now, thanks to the amazing work of Roye Okupe and his team at YouNeek Studios, more young children have the opportunity to be exposed to African heroes inspired by the great heroes and legends of Africa. For several years Okupe has independently produced some of the most beautifully crafted graphic novels I have added to my personal collection. The hard work paid off in a major way recently when he announced that after producing several serials of exciting storylines, YouNeek has signed a 10-book deal with Dark Horse Comics. You can read the full story by clicking HERE.
I am so excited to see this effort that I joined as a patron back in 2016 has grown into a true universe of talent and vision of a future that includes heroes and villains who reflect me and mine. If you ever wondered if Kickstarter crowdsourcing can really help launch an indie project into the mainstream here’s one beautiful example that every dollar matters.
Congrats to all of the YouNeek family. Y’all did this thing! Can’t wait to see what’s coming next!
Here are a few references if you’d like to learn more about Africa’s notable kings and queens:
Toussaint L’Ouverture – https://nmaahc.si.edu/latinx/toussaint-louverture)
Nzinga: Queen of Angola – https://youtu.be/GIWVPOuSYXA
Marta C. Youngblood is the founder and creative engine behind TheWRITEaddiction creatives co-op founded in 2014 as a virtual community supporting writers from all over the United States of America. Marta’s passion drives her to support the success of creatives from all walks of life to honor their talent and share it with the world. She believes that working in our creative callings does not have to be synonymous with being a “starving artist” and helps creatives master the business skills and strategies they need to work in their gifts.