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This Must-Watch Short Film Introduces A South African Superhero Origins Story

The short film 'Umkhungo' follows an extraordinary orphaned boy as he masters his superpower gifts in the Johannesburg slums of Hillbrow.


Whether you believe superheroes are born or made, filmmaker Matthew Jankes has brought a new one to life in his short film Umkhungo.

Currently available for viewing on Vimeo, the 2010 film tells the story of Themba (Sivuyisiwe Mtshaka,) an extraordinary young orphaned boy from the overpopulated Johannesburg slums of Hillbrow. He develops an unlikely bond with Mthunzi (Israel Makoe,) a jaded hustler who begrudgingly rescues Themba after the brutal murder of the boy's mother and the mysterious death of his father. The villain, Themba's superstitious uncle Gwala (Lennox Mathabathe,) pursues the pair as they learn more about Themba's burgeoning power and race to locate Mthunzi’s long-lost brother, culminating in a spellbinding final scene of superhuman proportions.

"Jankes wanted to create something that didn’t simply rip Hollywood off, but also had a big heart," wrote Vimeo Editor Jason Sondhi. "Using the native attributes of Johannesburg helps to effectively accomplish this desire, and the blending of paranormal and supernatural feels like an area ripe for further exploration."

Umkhungo, which translates to "The Gift," was made through a now defunct program launched by Focus Features called Africa First Shorts. Its digital release comes six months after the online debut of the West Africa-based superhero film Oya: Rise Of The Orishas. Nosa Igbinedion, the Nigerian writer, director and producer behind Oyatold an interviewer that he made the short film in order to prove that there is a market for sci-fi films revolving around African characters and storylines.

Check out the impressive short film below and let us know what you think. Are you as eager to see what happens to Themba as we are?

H/T Shadow & Act

Interview

Interview: Terri Is Stepping Out of the Shadows

We talk to the Wizkid-signed artist about the story behind the massive hit "Soco" and his latest Afro Series EP.

Certain afrobeats songs have made in-roads in international markets and paved the way for the genre's ceaselessly-rising widespread recognition. Among these history-defining songs were D'banj's "Oliver Twist," Tekno's "Pana," Davido's "If" & "Fall," Runtown's "Mad Over You," and of course, Wizkid's "Soco." Wizkid released "Soco" under his label imprint, Starboy Entertainment in March 2018, and the song spread like wildfire across Africa and beyond. "Soco" was an Afro-pop wonder delivered at a time when the 'afrobeats to the world' movement was gathering steam, further cementing its electric nature. The Northboi-produced song was co-signed by celebrities across the world like Rihanna, Cardi B, and Paul Pogba and has accrued well over a hundred million streams across streaming platforms worldwide.

"Soco" was not only a trailblazer amongst mid-2010s afrobeats records, it was also the introduction of the first Wizkid-signed artist, Terri. Just weeks before "Soco" was released, Terri was discovered by Wizkid's longtime producer, Mutay, who saw him covering the song "Oshe" on social media.

Before "Soco," Terri Akewe was well on his way to fame. At fifteen, he had performed at street carnivals in his neighbourhood and, one time, was carried all the way home by neighbours after winning a Coca-Cola sponsored singing competition. Before his life-changing meeting with Wizkid, Terri had a seven-track EP ready for release, as well as a viral song titled "Voices." "One time I was on set with the video director T.G Omori, he told me that 'Voices' was the first time he heard of me" Terri tells me as we settle on a plush couch at his home in Lagos.

Regardless of Terri's initial career trajectory; signing to a label headed by afrobeats' biggest superstar was bound to accelerate his musical journey, and at the same time, cast a huge shadow of expectation on his career, especially given a debut as spectacular as "Soco." With his latest EP, Afro Series, powered by the sensational single "Ojoro," one thing is clear: Terri is stepping out of the shadows into his own spotlight and he is doing it on his own terms.

This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.

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