There are 197 countries recognized by the United Nations or, in the case of 2 we included, the majority of the UN. I took a look at each country’s cultural history and pop culture to determine the most iconic hero to come from each nation. Sometimes the country does not have many fictional characters so they honor folks heroes. Whenever possible, I selected a character that appears more than once and that has been exported in some form of media to the rest of the world. This represents the fourth and final part of our list.
Mona Rudao is the main character in the very successful 2-part film Warriors of the Rainbow: Seediq Bale. Mona Rudao is a chief of Mahebu village of Seediq people, who led warriors fighting against the Japanese who were occupying Taiwan in 1930. The movie depicts the Wushe Incident.
Omar Khayyám is a revered poet in Tajikistan and, prior to that, Persia. You could argue that his epic poem The Rubáiyát is itself (comprised of lines of 4 verses, each a separate thought) a type of national hero because it provides a structure and advice to the culture that is followed and adored with a near-religious reverence.
Tanzania is primarily a nation of spoken language, not written. Much of their folklore is similar to other East African nations where animals are the main characters representing certain characteristics. The Hare is often typecast as a trickster, outwitting a stronger, yet gullible, opponent.
In 2003, the martial arts trilogy of movies titled Ong Bak began. They were very popular worldwide. They introduced the world to Tony Jaa, who plays Ting. Ting is a simple guy from the boonies who travels to the big city and quickly gets on the wrong side of the criminal underworld but overcomes them with his amazing Muay Thai skills.
Poetry is popular and well-respected in Timor. Its current President, Xanana Gusmão, is also its most popular poet. It’s about the Timor people and their resistance to Indonesian occupation.
There’s very little in the way of arts and humanities in Togo. The Fon people make up a sizable population of the country. Their creation myth focuses on Mawu-Lisa, an androgynous spirit. Mawu-Lisa created the world and made it orderly, then made plants, animals, and humans; the entire process took four days.
Tales of the Tikongs by Epeli Hau’ofa is a popular book of humorous short stories, all involving people on a small island that is dealing with Western development. Puku Leka is one character that reviewers especially liked, who grows up being taught how to bow and grovel and be humble by his family. The book has been translated into English and is a best-seller.
Trinidad and Tobago:
There are many fantastic authors to come from this Caribbean island but one of their most popular cultural events is their celebration of Carnival. Among the characters that people dress up as, Midnight Robber is among the most popular and beloved. Both his costume and his speech are distinctive. His “Robber Talk” is extravagant and egocentric, and boastful. He brags about his great ancestry, exploits, strength, fearlessness and invincibility.
Mustapha Tlili is an important writer who has also served as an adviser to the Obama administration and the UN on Islamic world. His novel “Lion Mountain” has been translated into many languages. As a young widow with two boys to feed and raise, Horia El-Gharib struggles to reconcile tradition and change. With the help of a faithful servant and the support of the village imam, she dares to take on a man’s role in commerce and trade to protect the birthright of her sons.
Oil wrestling is a popular Turkish sport and their hero is Rostam, a fictional wrestler character from the Persian epic “Shahnameh” who was depicted as saving his country repeatedly from invasion.
Turkmen poet Andalib is well respected and known for his epic trilogy of poems about Turkmenistan in a time when there was not much printed literature (18th century). The third, “Nesimi”, was based on the life and writings of the medieval Turkish mystical poet Imid al-Din Nesimi.
The Tuvalu island people have a really great origin called “te Pusi mo te Ali” (the Eel and the Flounder). The Eel and Flounder once had a contest to carry a large stone. The Flounder got squished flat under it and the Eel worked so hard he vomited until he was long and thin. The Flounder became the model for the islands and the Eel became the model for the coconut palm trees. After the Flounder dies, Eel tosses a stone in the air repeatedly, making day and night. Then he breaks the stone into 8 pieces which became the islands.
Literature that’s exported is on a small scale and at an early stage. There is a group of cartoonists that work hard to put out digital comics. But Isaac Nabwana is a popular guerilla filmmaker whose low-budget action movie Who Killed Captain Alex was a hit in Uganda (and whose trailer has over 2.5 million views). He put the whole movie on YouTube. Captain Alex’ brother is the star and I THINK his name was Richard.
Liudmyla Mykhailivna Pavlychenko was a Ukranian sniper during World War 2. Amassing 309 confirmed kills, she is regarded as the most successful female sniper in history. She has had many stories written about her and earned the nickname Lady Death, which is also the title of an upcoming Ukranian movie about her life.
United Arab Emirates:
Farouk Omar was one of the most popular scripted TV shows to come from the UAE. It was about the life of Umar Ibn Al-Khattab, the second Caliph of Islamic State, before and after he embraces in Islam.
UK (United Kingdom):
James Bond is known worldwide. He’s the ultimate spy and has remained relevant and popular since the 1960s.
USA (United States of America):
Superman. The ideal immigrant who fights social injustice or whatever other woes ail America at the time. The perfect hero, both morally and power-wise.
Co-produced by and partially set in Uruguay, the movie Burnt Money was a big hit. It follows drifter Angel and petty thief El Nene as they meet, become gay lovers and their plan to rob some local gangsters. A tragic action movie.
“O’tgan kunlar” (“Days Gone By”) is a 1925 Uzbek-language novel by Abdulla Qodiriy which is considered to be the first Uzbek novel and very influential. It was also made into a film in 1969. The story follows lovers Otabek and Kumush against the background of civil strife between the rulers and people in the early 19th century.
There are many variations of folklore across the Vanuatu islands, but Qat is one of the most popular and well-known characters. A trickster who creates the night and has many strong brothers.
It’s where the Pope lives. It’s only a place for the Roman Catholic Church. The only person it could be is Jesus, Christianity’s version of the son of God who came to Earth and was born as a human to teach us to love one another.
El Náufrago is a comic strip with no text created by Jorge Blanco. It started in 1980 on the Venezuelan newspaper El Diario de Caracas. Today El Náufrago is published in the United States under the name “The Castaway.”
“Dong Mau Anh Hung” (“The Rebel”) is a 2007 action movie. It was extremely popular in Vietnam and featured in many international film festivals. The film follows the journey of Le Van Cuong, a French-cultured undercover elite in 1920s Vietnam when it was controlled by the French.
Yemeni author Ali al-Muqri uses social fiction as a voice for those who are often silenced. “Hurma” is both the title of the first of his novels to be published in English and the name of the main character. The book is an unabridged first-person perspective on life behind the burqa.
The Lozi people have an oral tradition that gives variations to their mythology. In some Nyambe is the creator and in others he is the first human being. In a third, he has many wives and founds the Lozi nation.
“Waiting for the Rain” by Charles Mungoshi is known throughout Africa and has been translated into English. The Old Man< is the most important of the characters in the book, representing the old ways. He is a drum maker and his philosophy spreads throughout the book: "Go to the beat of your own drum."