Jongo, Africa’s First Superhero TV Show, just finished its debut run on TV. People all over Africa could watch it on BET. Was it a great show? Did it fall short of expectations? Jongo is the brainchild of a white South African. Did it represent African culture and black people well? I have a more pressing question than these though, and that is, why is no one talking about Jongo?
Africans and people of African descent all across the diaspora complain a lot about our lack of representation in science fiction and fantasy stories as well as the mainstream superhero genre. Then someone goes and makes an entire TV series set in Africa, with African lead characters getting super powers, only aired in Africa and we’re not making noise about it. The season finale should have trended on social media. We should be seeing Jongo memes. Black people living outside of Africa should be wondering what they missed or didn’t miss by not being able to watch Jongo. There should be constructive criticism. That is how you foster a community. That is how you encourage more creators to take the risk and make more shows and movies like this.
The quality of the actual show is not the issue here. The culture of the black geek community is what bothers me. Batman vs Superman came out and got terrible reviews, yet broke Box Office records. Everyone is ranting about how terrible certain aspects of the movie are, people are arguing about the direction and generally creating a lot of buzz about the movie, regardless of whether they think it’s great or terrible. Where is the buzz about how terrible the acting in Jongo is? Where is the talk about how the story escalated and left us with hints about how much bigger the second season could be? Where are the arguments about which of the 3 crystals bestows the best power on the wielder?
At Kugali, we have a saying. “Stories shape our society so let’s shape our stories”. We should be shaping our stories through these conversations. Almost all fans of the DragonBallZ anime watched the terrible 2009 live action movie because even though we knew it would suck, we felt like we needed to see it. We needed to know. Same can be said about comic fans and the Batman vs Superman movie. If we want to improve the quality and reach of Afrocentric stories, then we owe it to ourselves to experience said stories whenever we can and talk about them. We wrote a review and eventually interviewed the creator (and talked about our review during the interview). DSTV is available in most of Africa, and while Jongo’s run on BET is already over, it’s on EbonyLifeTV (channel 165). If you have e.TV in your country though, Jongo started airing on April 19, so let’s get this conversation going.
We’re building an online database for African games, comics, TV shows, movies and Sci-Fi/Fantasy novels. Sign up at http://kugali.com if you want to gain early access. Less than 500 slots available for early adopters.