Sensi’il: An Ethiopian Term for Comic Books

Read Time: 2.5 minutes

Did you know that Ethiopian Comic books are called SENSI’ILs (ሰንሥዕል)? Ethiopia has a very rich visual storytelling heritage. Back in 17th century, Ethiopians invented a comic book like art form called SENSUL (ሰንሱል) to tell religious stories.
The book folded and unfolded like an accordion. It was made from a single strip of parchment and it would tell a sequential story when it unfolds. It usually had no texts but if it did, it would be short prayers and hymns.

SENSULs are still in use in present day Ethiopia. So a new term had to be developed that encompassed all genres of stories. And that term is SENSI’IL (ሰንሥዕል).

SENSI’IL is derived from two Amharic words. The first one is SENSEL meaning chain or sequential, and the second is SI’IL (ሥዕል) meaning art or drawing. Together, it translates to sequential art. SEN-SI-IL (ሰንሥዕል) is pronounced “Sun-Si-IL”. 

Just like how the Japanese Manga brought the Japanese culture to the forefront of the visual storytelling industry, Sensi’ils intend to do the same with Ethiopian and African culture. 

Dive into Sensi’ils today using Etan Comics’ award nominated African comic books and graphic novels

-Beserat from ETAN COMICS

Picture of Beserat Debebe

Beserat Debebe

Beserat Debebe is the founder of ETAN COMICS and the writer/creator of HAWI, JEMBER, and ZUFAN. He was born and raised in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. He holds a Bachelor’s degree in Aerospace Engineering from the University of Maryland and a Master’s degree in Business Administration from Indiana University. His works have been nominated for Best Graphic Novel Awards, and featured on BBC, OkayAfrica, ComicsBeat, and more!