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Get to know: Prince ‘SuperMash’ Mashawana (9), world’s youngest TEDx speaker-turned sneaker designer

Prince Mashawana, aka SuperMash, is no ordinary nine-year old, having had to his name, a world record for the youngest person to do a TEDx in 2021, aged only eight at the time. The oh-so inspiring youngster, who's about to set another world's first as the youngest ever known sneaker designer, gave NOWinSA an exclusive on his upcoming kids sneaker range with acclaimed South African footwear brand, Bathu.

Prince Mashawana, aka SuperMash, is not your everyday nine-year old, having had to his name, a world record for the youngest person to do a TEDx in 2021.

At his young age, Prince already has causes he’s passionate about, and has been rallying efforts in the past year to fight against bullying, as well as domestic violence, and other pressing issues young people in South Africa are grappling with. 

The Johannesburg based youngster has multiple projects under his belt, including his first published comic book called, ‘A Gift From Grandpa’, which saw him become part of Nickelodeo’s 2020 Let’s Read Mandela Day special aimed at helping kids develop love for reading.

Last year, he came up with his own sanitizer, which saw multitudes of South Africans overcome one of the most frightening early stages of the deadly coronavirus pandemic. 

Prince is also planning to release a book called, ‘The Diary of a Superhero‘, which is expected to hit major book stores globally in the first or second quarter of 2022.

As if these is not good enough, Prince is said to have a Bathu x SuperMash sneaker range in the pipeline. Although he didn’t want to divulge much before it officially drops, the shoe will be part of Bathu’s kids range.

We caught up with the youngster to find out more about his upcoming book, The Diary of a Superhero‘, which is expected to hit major book stores globally in the first or second quarter of 2022, and most importantly, what an ordinary day is like in the life of African’s first ever superhero. 

SuperMash is designed with the sole idea of making young people understand that they can become anything they set their minds to.

When did you create the SuperMash alter ego?

I created SuperMash in late 2019. The inspiration behind the SuperMash character is to help build confidence in young people, and develop their mindsets, so they understand that they can become anything they set their minds to.

A superhero creates the foundation for kids to reflect on some the best traits of the person they aspire to be, and apply them in their lives.

Prince ‘Supermash’ Mashawana

Most importantly, I want them to know they are strong enough to overcome many of the issues that lead to the high rate of child and teenage suicide in South Africa. A superhero creates the foundation for kids to reflect on some the best traits of the person they aspire to be, and apply them in their lives.

It helps them develop their own skills, build up their own personality traits that others can draw from. If SuperMash respects the elderly and do his chores as expected, then the kids will do the same. When kids pretend to be ‘super special’, it gives them a sense of control over the world that can seem big and scary.

SuperMash in action: creating a domino effect of good habits among South African children.

Can you describe what he looks like and what he wears?

SuperMash is a superhero illustration of me, and looks almost identical to me. He wears a blue and orange costume with an orange cape. The costume allows me to become a superhero version of myself. 

Why did you feel you needed a super hero of your own?

I got bullied a lot at school because of the way I spoke and many other things. I would tell my family, who couldn’t do much to help, and that’s when I came out with the idea of SuperMash. It basically inspires other kids to find the superhero in themselves and when their special abilities are illuminated, that will create a domino effect of good habits.

A superhero’s job is to assist other kids in need, and eventually the actions of just one superhero will build 100 more superheroes, who will in turn do the same.  Eventually, we will have a network on kids that are doing the best that they can do change the world. However, it all starts with finding the strength within.

Whose idea was it to make SuperMash a comic book?

It was my idea, I wanted to create a comic book that relates to a South African child; a comic book that empowers kids to overcome the challenges that many of the kids in South Africa face. I never really  used to relate to most isuperhero book depictions from overseas because of two reasons; firstly South Africa has unique challenges facing both kids and the youth. So we need South African comic content that relates to South African people.

Meet Africa’s first, ‘relatable’ superhero cartoon character, SuperMash!

Who designed the SuperMash cartoon character – was it your own idea of what he should look like?

I worked very closely with Simphiwe (story writer and editor) and Phemelo Dibodu (illustrator and creative director), who work as creatives at Rainbow Nation Comics, and we all agreed this is how he should look like, making it not only bright, colorful and playful, but as relatable to a South African child as possible. 

Tell us more about the Bathu x SuperMash sneaker?

Every child will be their own hero, it’s going to be beautiful!


Newest addition to the NOWinSA family, Zareef Minty‘s column titled, ‘Get To Know…’ is published every Monday & Friday.

Editor's Desk
Editor's Desk
Curated by editor-in-chief, Tankiso Komane, this special collection of articles from the Editor's Desk unpacks topics of the day, including commentary, in-depth analysis and partner content.
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