Josef Yohannes: an Author, a Speaker and Comic book creator…

Josef Tzegai Yohannes, a native of Eritrea, was born in Copenhagen, Denmark with his twin sister in 1980. At the age of 9, he and his family moved to Oslo, Norway. A shy, adventurous child, from an early age he had a vision and a goal of helping people and making the world to a better place for all of us.

From an early age, he experienced bullying, poverty, racism, and fear, yet he participated in charity events, and always had hope for a better future. As he grew older, he decided to study human rights and political science with the goal of earning a political position that would allow him to take on social issues of the underprivileged.

While studying Political Science and Human Rights at the University of Oslo, Yohannes was selected to attend a United Nations Conference for students sponsored by Harvard University. He attended the conference 3 years in a row (in Hague, Netherlands, Taipei, Taiwan and New York, USA).

In 2010, while he was visiting Botswana, South Africa, and several other countries, Yohannes got the idea to combine his creativity and passion for social service to create a new comic book superhero called The Urban Legend. His biggest inspiration came when he saw two children that instantly reminded him of himself and his brother. In an emotional moment, he called them over and talked to them, and was struck by their beauty and closeness. He gave them 10 dollars and told them to buy some ice cream; they happily accepted, and as they walked away, he shed a few tears, feeling helpless and angry with himself that he didn’t do more than give them a few dollars. He wanted to give them hope, a role, something that could motivate them and show them the path to a better life.

Three months later, he had the epiphany to create a superhero that would change the world. The Urban Legend would be the first global black superhero, inspiring kids from all over the world, especially Africa. He wanted his character to be the most human superhero ever and, so he gave him a job as a teacher. The Urban Legend is a superhero who fights against evil and oppression, and gives the poor, the forgotten, and those who can’t stand up for themselves a voice.

His name is Malcolm Tzegai Madiba, named after Malcolm X, Yohannes’ father Tzegai, and Nelson Mandela (Madiba is Mandela’s African name).

The Urban Legend is available in 11 different languages and is part of the school curriculum in Norway, Eritrea, South Africa, Kenya and Brazil.

Yohannes is also working on a documentary on Malcolm X, and is writing his first book, which will be out next year.