CAPE TOWN – Embracing the superhero within comes naturally to Dalcha Lungiambula.
From a young age, he developed that X-man gene.
In 2009, after leaving war-torn Kinshasa in the DRC, the soft-spoken 'Wakanda Warrior' took up the mantle of protector and provider through his duties as the bread-winner for his family and siblings by fixing people’s broken appliances and bouncing at fancy cosmopolitan Cape Town nightclubs.
These days, Dalcha is more commonly known for his super-human abilities inside the hexagon.
The Mixed Martial Arts star recently signed a contract with the billion-dollar UFC (Ultimate Fighting Championship) promotion after his multi-title exploits in Africa’s premier promotion, the EFC (Extreme Fighting Championship).
And Dalcha - or rather, Champion Dalcha, as everybody knows him - is set to make his debut this weekend in Minneapolis, USA.
But being a star on television is not enough for Dalcha, and just like that day when his father gave him his first judo gi, the Wakanda Warrior wants to give back to the community and serve, like a superhero would.
His desire recently guided him on a three-hour road trip down the N7 from Cape Town to Vredendal to run a martial arts and self-empowering seminar for the young men and women of the town in the Olifants River Valley.
Superheroes are all around us, but the Wakanda Warrior has cult status. You will quickly realise this at Fight Nights.
The theme of Wakanda originates from Marvel Comics. It is written as a fictional country in Africa. In the Marvel Comics world it is the most prominent of several African nations and home to the world-renowned superhero, Black Panther.
And to all his fans, Champion is the Black Panther of African MMA. So you can imagine the glow and glee that was evident when this big city hero entered the Vergenoeg School Hall.
The programme - initiated by Dalcha’s management, Grind Sports Agency, and sponsor, Mineral Sand Resources - was attended by more than 130 excited young faces, even though only 100 youngsters were expected.
“The kids (between 8 and 18 years) did not want to leave, usually kids get bored very easily, but they wanted more after the two-and-a-half-hour session,” said Grind Sports Agency’s Lester Lombard.
Some of the kids even practised the patience of a pensioner waiting in a Sassa (South African Social Security Agency) queue in the hopes of getting personal attention from the real-life hero.
The seminar consisted of demonstrations of various martial art disciplines. From muay thai, judo to Brazilian jujitsu, the kids were taken through various camps before being taught self-defence and the importance of self-awareness, vital to the fragile youth of Vredendal and the Western Cape.
A 2017-18 analysis report by the Western Cape government indicated that 83% (808) of all gang-related murders in South Africa are recorded in the Western Cape. Thirty-six percent of all drug-related crimes in the country occur in the Western Cape.
Last year more than 2080 sexual offences were recorded in the Western Cape’s top 10 worst precincts.
Director of the Saartjie Baartman Centre for Women and Children, Bernadine Bachar, believes that projects like Dalcha’s will stand many boys and girls in good stead.
“Empowering women and children in self-defence is important in ensuring that they are able to safeguard their bodily integrity and protect themselves in abusive situations,” says Bachar.
“Programmes like these are sorely needed. The sexual abuse statistics on women and children are shocking. A woman is killed every three hours in South Africa. Thirty-five percent of children report having experienced sexual abuse in their lifetime and 82% of children report some form of victimisation.
“Clearly there is a vital need for self-defence instruction and seminars, especially in small cities, small towns and rural areas.”
MMA is the new buzzword across the world.
In SA, it is the second most-watched sport behind Super Rugby and the UFC is and was home to mega icons such as Conor McGregor and Ronda Rousey, respectively.
Dalcha will make the step up to the UFC this weekend when he takes on Dequan Townsend from the US.
He is already a superhero in the MMA ring, but let’s get behind Africa’s Wakanda Warrior, so that the world, like the youth of Vredendal, can learn of his caring nature, because those super powers are even more valuable than super-human strength.
* You can watch Dalcha on UFC’s Fight Night at Target Center, Minneapolis on ESPN 3 and SuperSport 211 tomorrow or the UFC Fight Pass app for prelims.