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Watch Samba Yonga's Kick-Ass TED Talk on an 'African Superhero Curriculum'

The co-founder of the Zambian Women's History Museum speaks about the importance of indigenous knowledge in creating Africa's own superheroes.

Co-founder of the Zambian Women's History Museum, Samba Yonga, is on a mission to reclaim Africa's history and indigenous knowledge in a way that allows Africans to centre themselves in their own narratives and become their own superheroes.

She recently spoke at TEDxLusaka about developing a "blueprint for the African superhero curriculum". It's the TED talk that you definitely need to watch this year.


Yonga starts off by talking about what she terms Western "superheroes"—the likes of Queen Elizabeth, Mahatma Gandhi and even Disney's Cinderella. Naturally, everyone in the audience knows each one. She speaks about how the rest of the world has modelled what it means to be an extraordinary character or "superhero" after figures such as these.

Yonga then goes on to mention Gundu Bedyango, who was "responsible for brokering a co-leadership with the invading Chief Mukuni in Zambia's southern province" in the 18th century, Mansa Musa of the 14th century Malian Shongai empire and the more contemporary Chika Ezeanya Esiobu, a researcher from Nigeria who firmly believes in the power of Africa's indigenous knowledge.

Proving her point, not as many people in the audience are as familiar with these African "superheroes" compared to their Western counterparts.

"The West has a very good way of teaching us their "knowledge" and they demonstrate that unless we learn knowledge, we won't attain much in terms of development or achievements. I believe that even if the West has done so much to improve the world that our own indigenous knowledge would have had an impact," Yonga says.

Proposing what she feels is the way forward, Yonga adds, "We need to acknowledge and then restore this indigenous knowledge so we can create our own superheroes. I call them superheroes because had this information been retained, and cultivated, it would have existed together with modern systems of knowledge."

Watch her full TEDxLusaka talk below:

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Photo by Nicolas Liponne/NurPhoto via Getty Images

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