When The Urban Legend came to town

Josef
Josef Yohannes (centre) With students of Jaipuria School, Ghaziabad at the Norwegian Embassy.

Norwegian comic superhero The Urban Legend was presented by its creator, Josef Yohannes, recently in New Delhi. Yohannes interacted with school children and also took part in the first Delhi Comic Arts Festival during his trip.

The Urban Legend is A black superhero that uses martial arts skills to fight street crime. The super hero was created by Josef Tzegai Yohannes, a native of Eritrea, who was born in Copenhagen, Denmark and moved to Oslo, Norway at the age of nine. From an early age, he experienced bullying, poverty, racism, and fear, yet he participated in charity events, and always had hope for a better future. As he grew older, he decided to study human rights and political science with the goal of earning a political position that would allow him to take on social issues of the underprivileged. 

The character of Urban Legend came to the forein 2010, while he was visiting Botswana, South Africa, and several other countries, where Yohannes got the idea to combine his creativity and passion for social service to create a new comic book superhero. His biggest inspiration came when he saw two children that instantly reminded him of himself and his brother. In an emotional moment, he called them over and talked to them, and was struck by their beauty and closeness. He gave them 10 dollars and told them to buy some ice cream; they happily accepted, and as they walked away, he shed a few tears, feeling helpless and angry with himself that he didn’t do more than give them a few dollars. He wanted to give them hope, a role, something that could motivate them and show them the path to a better life. And then The Urban Legend was created. 

Josef Yohannes conducted a workshop with 8-10 year olds at the Embassy where he asked the children to create a super hero of their own. All the children worked in groups and created their own versions of a super hero that went across boundaries of gender, class and countries. Josef was pleased to see the passion and compassion with which all the children created their characters. He later addressed a gathering at Delhi’s first comic arts festival, DECAF at the India International Centre, New Delhi. 

The Urban Legend would be the first global black superhero, inspiring kids from all over the world, especially Africa. He wanted his character to be the most human superhero ever and, so he gave him a job as a teacher. The Urban Legend is a superhero who fights against evil and oppression, and gives the poor, the forgotten, and those who can’t stand up for themselves a voice. The super hero’s name is Malcolm Tzegai Madiba, named after Malcolm X, Yohannes’ father Tzegai, and Nelson Mandela (Madiba is Mandela’s African name). The Urban Legend is available in 11 different languages and is part of the school curriculum in Norway, Eritrea, South Africa, Kenya and Brazil. We hope to receive Josef in India again soon.