What does seven-year-old Prince Mashawana have in common with singing sensation AKA?
Nominated in the same category as AKA, DJ Zinhle’s little girl Kairo and Kenny Kunene’s son Remo for this year’s prestigious Generational Wealth Education Child Star award, Mashawana – better known in the superhero domain as SuperMash – is South Africa’s fictional superhero, who encourages children to see themselves as leaders.
From Robert Yaniz Jnr to Booster Gold, children love superheroes and Mashawana has launched what is arguably the first black fictional superhero, created by artist Jolinda Nel.
The concept goes like this: once children put on the SuperMash costume, superpowers are unleashed through mystery and imagination that encourage good thoughts leading to good behaviour.
Wearing a SuperMash wristband, Mashawana uses his powers to influence and alter the way a child overcomes challenges, at the same time inducing self-confidence and growth.
Better equipping children to overcome life challenges through emotional growth, self-awareness and learning the true depth of the power within themselves as they assume responsibilities is at the core of Mashawana’s message to youngsters.
He says: “I wanted to lead by example by showing kids that they are not the only ones in the world going through difficult challenges.
“I see challenges daily at school or when someone shares experiences with me. I question myself on how I can do better for kids who are my age.”
South African comic book publisher Rainbow Nation Comics, which creates original, authentic and local superhero stories, has partnered with Mashawana to take his concept to a fully professional level, that will see readers entertained – with the added benefit of having options to own the merchandising.
Mashawana has worked with story writer and editor Phemelo Dibodu and illustrator and creative director Omphile Dibodu.
Phemelo has described working with Mashawana as “a wonderful experience”, adding: “We have no doubt SuperMash is going to have a very positive impact on his readers and this comes as no surprise when you meet Prince himself.
“He is a passionate and smart young man. We think his social business idea is going to go a very long way in South Africa – for everyone’s benefit.”
The youngster has had strong support from parents Lerato Zah and Collen Mashawana.
“It’s been fascinating to watch someone so young develop something like this,” said Mashawana. “Even more amazing has been to see the hard work and dedication that Prince has put in while working on this project with Omphile and Phemelo Dibodu at Rainbow Nation Comics.”
Bringing hope to children through his comic book, Mashawana has covered topical issues that resonate with the youth.
These include substance abuse, child abuse, homelessness, effects of divorce, challenges of being adopted, bullying, discrimination, violence at schools, and balancing schoolwork and extramural activities.
On being nominated, he says: “For me, we are all winners but it will be cool to get the award.
“I just want every young person to know that they are not alone. My one wish for South Africa is for kids to be in a home with loving parents, food on the table and a roof over their heads – safe from harm.
“Kids should dream big and never give up. At school, they should have positive role models to look up to.”
(Compiled by Brian Sokutu)