Adaku Nwakanma

A budding photographer and enthusiastic storyteller, Adaku enjoys deep and open conversations spanning a wide range of topics, with focus on women, governance, emotional and mental health, and Africa.

Senegal’s superhero, Sandale-man, stuns with this familiar secret weapon

Just the other day, Nigerians went nostalgic on images that reminded them of their naughty childhood interactions with their mothers.

In Dakar, Senegal however, there’s a whole new superhero based off the accurate throwing of what was identified as the “Dunlop Slippers” in this Mother’s day ad by SO&U.

Mother’s Day ad. Courtesy: SO&U

Sandale-man is Senegal’s own Superhero—an attempt to represent the African culture by and for Africans on the continent. The Senegalese hero for Sandale-man 2 : Arc du Révolutionnaire where he continues fighting crime by throwing sandals at villains.

The Sandale-man is proving to be a force to be reckoned with as anyone who has ever been on the receiving end of the Dunlop slippers/sandal will instantly relate and fall in love with the character. La Légend de Sandale-man made its debut back in December of 2015, distributed and presented by Sen Network, a YouTube channel by local Senegalese filmmakers.

Co-director of Sandale-man, Jean Jacques Toué, says what started out as a joke became a tool for local representation. The director of a film about African superhero Sandale-man hopes more characters like this will bring money to the continent instead of Hollywood.

The creators’ original intent was to create a mock-superhero film on a shoe-string budget, about a young hero whose special skillset is kicking butts with slipper throwing accuracy. 

Sandale-man. Courtesy: Sen Network

Akin to the friendly neighborhood Spiderman, he protects the people of Senegal from petty criminals and felons alike. Sandale-man is often shown hilariously saving the day by slapping criminals with his accurately thrown sandals. What started as a joke, however, gained clout by many, and the cast was soon featured on local TV news stations and on BBC News.

Unlike Hollywood’s Marvel and DC franchises, The Sandale-man films were not created on a big budget. Infact, you could say it was created on a sandal budget (pun intended). However, despite their limitations, Jean Jacques Toue and his fellow crew members were still able to create stunning comic books to incorporate into the film, with an intro which has similarity to Marvel’s trademark comic-book film intros.

The Sandale-man is a beautiful representation of African producers coming together to both support one another and expand the Senegalese film and entertainment industry without waiting for outside assistance. They are a group of filmmakers who have decided to put the works of producers in Africa first and foremost. These Senegalese filmmakers are making superhero cinema magic .

As Toue put it in a recent interview with BBC News Minute, “We appreciate the film, Black Panther. It’s beautifully written. But what bothers me, there are many African film producers but they don’t benefit from the same support. We have to realize that sometimes we should favor our own productions instead of others.” he said, referring to Hollywood instead of Africans to benefiting from the successes of African stories. 

“It’s better if African people create their own characters, just like people in Asia did.” Toue concluded.