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This is a Kenyan superhero display of the country’s pre-independence legends who fought for their communities’ land, freedom and spiritual well-being; and are revered by their communities to date. ‘Shujaa’ is a Swahili word that means brave or courageous. It also refers to someone who is a hero. The image features 44 heroes and heroines, representing the 44 communities of Kenya. Some of these heroes are known well beyond their communities due to the respect they managed to garner across the region. Many of them have a well-developed and sophisticated folklore which embodies their history, traditions, morals, worldview and wisdom.

Details

  • Title: The Superheroes of Kenya
  • Creator: Shujaa Stories
  • Date Created: 2020
  • Location: Kenya
  • Rights: Shujaa Stories in collaboration with Nature Kenya and the National Museums of Kenya
  • Research statement: Research was undertaken through on ground field work in Samburu and Marsabit (for Gabbra, Samburu, Rendille, Saakuye, Dasanach, Elmolo, Waayu a.k.a Waata, and Burji superheroes/heroines), Embu and Tharaka (for Aembu, Tharaka, Ameru and Mbeere superheroes/heroines) and Taita-Taveta/Voi (for Taveta superheroes/heroines) capturing all information about the heroes from the 30 selected ethnic groups/communities by Museum’s research team.
  • About Shujaa Stories: This is a Kenyan superhero display of the country’s pre-independence legends who fought for their communities’ land, freedom and spiritual well-being; and are revered by their communities to date. Conceptualized in 2017, the idea was the brain-child of Masidza Sande Galavu (1993-2020) who was a Creative Director and co-founder at Shujaa Stories and Tatu Creatives in Nairobi. ‘Shujaa’ is a Swahili word that means brave or courageous. It also refers to someone who is a hero. Shujaa Stories made its public debut with an exhibition at the Nairobi National Museum in 2018. It shined light on 28 of Kenya’s greatest heroes and heroines. Each story was coupled with a bonus text on conservation related to the heritage sites surrounding where these legends once lived. In 2020, supported by National Museums of Kenya and Google Arts and Culture, Shujaa Stories Ltd completed over 30 new shujaas that cut across the major and marginalized Kenyan communities. Kenya is rich in history and culture. Some of this richness has been brought out in our books, museums and in theatre. But there is one major section of our history that has been left out, especially to the younger generation of Kenyans, which are our pre-independence legendary heroes. Some of these heroes are known well beyond their communities due to the respect they managed to garner across the region. Many of them have a well-developed and sophisticated folklore which embodies their history, traditions, morals, worldview and wisdom. The design language chosen for the entire exhibition is animated illustrations that seek to bring out the superhero character of each shujaa.

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