These aren’t just any superheroes, however. They’re a unique set of characters drawn from the rich African tradition of storytelling and African folklore.
For Ghana-based gaming studio Leti Arts, the mission is to present these stories on a worldwide stage, mainstreaming the continent’s rich culture through a series of digital comics and interactive games.
“Leti Arts reimagines African folklore and historic legends, interspersed with fictional characters, as elite superheroes fighting crime in present day Africa,” the company’s website states. We’re poised on delivering “world class entertainment to our consumers.”
Developing quality interactive media games for the world to enjoy is just one part of the Leti Arts empire. The company also works to create job opportunities for young talent in Africa while working to cement the continent as a viable contender in the world gaming industry. Their commitment to fostering local talent, industry growth, and providing internships/training is what has earned the company international success thus far.
With a new digital game in the works, Leti Arts is looking to take its folklore-inspired projects to new heights. Atlanta Black Star spoke with Leti Arts’ PR manager Abena Addai to learn more about the company’s history, mission and influence behind its digital arts concepts.
ABS: When and why was Leti Arts founded?
Addai: Leti Arts was founded in 2009, and we currently have two offices in Ghana and Kenya. Leti was founded on the grounds of preserving our heritage and culture. Contemporary Africa hasn’t kept up with modern forms and genres of storytelling. This has caused a disconnect between millennials, our history and culture, and the actual content they consume. Leti aims to remedy this by curating all these stories, including our history and folklore, and present them in a way that our current generation is used to. We do this by creating interactive digital comics and mobile games that present stories of historic African legends in the 21st century with compelling visuals. We believe that digitization is a better long-term bet for preserving our heritage for future generations.
ABS: Your digital comics and mobile games are unique in that they draw inspiration from African folklore. Why did you think it was important to feature African culture in your digital projects?
Addai: We want to present the African heritage in a way that will make millennials both in Africa and the Diaspora genuinely excited to engage and interact with. The current ways of telling our stories are boring and not innovative. They also tend to be extremely exaggerated or watered down. We want to bring these stories to the world in a simple, fun, entertaining and authentic way. Our comics and games tell the stories of all these great legends that many millennials might not have even heard of.
ABS: What are the names of some of the characters featured in your Africa’s Legends superhero series, and which historic African figures/folklore characters were they inspired by?
Addai: We have Shaka Zulu, who is a descendant of the great Shaka Zulu from South Africa. He is a policeman who finds out that he can command the ghost army of his ancestor to come to his aid when he is in trouble.
Pharaoh was inspired by the ancient Pharaohs from Egypt. Our Pharaoh is unnamed and has just been awakened by a cosmic event after being dead for 200 years. He brings the Africa’s Legends together while seeking the reason why he has been awakened from his slumber.
Sundi and The Wadaabi Assassin are based on the nomadic Wodaabe tribe that can be found in Niger. These characters are highly skilled in martial arts and don’t see eye to eye despite having been trained by the same master.
Ananse is inspired by the popular god of wisdom from West African folklore. He inhabits the body of 16-year-old Selassie and puts him in trouble most of the time. He occasionally joins the Africa’s Legends when it suits him.
We also have a couple of fictional characters like Ruddy from Nigeria, who is the illegitimate child of President Mubacha and Donald, a tough street urchin.
ABS: I understand you have a new game in the works called Africa’s Legends Reawakening. What’s the story behind it? How do you plan to fund and develop it?
Addai: AL-Reawakening is the phase two of our existing Africa’s Legends game. It’s a multi-player RPG [role-playing game] that can be played on any mobile device. The game is set in the near future Africa and will see the release of 11 new and rebooted characters in the AL Universe. Three of them have just discovered their superpowers and are to figure out what it means to be an Africa’s Legend, since they are among the first. Their mission is to fight against societal cancers, and this is not an easy [task], as they have villains that try to hinder them in every possible way.
We are preparing to launch a Kickstarter campaign this October. We hope to raise $250,000 to fund this game.