The 2018 movie Black Panther gained worldwide acclaim and won three academy awards the year following its release, the first Oscars for Marvel studios. The movie that stars the deceased actor, Chadwick Boseman has become a cultural watershed in popular and Black culture all over the globe for its "Wakanda forever" hallmark crossed arms to chest salute.
It has enthralled and impacted the movie industry across the globe becoming the ninth highest-grossing of all time, the highest-grossing solo superhero film, and the highest-grossing movie by a black director. The movie also features other notable Black actors like Lupita Nyong'o, Micheal B Jordan, Daniel Kaluuya, Forest Whitaker, Leticia Wright, Danai Gurira, and Winston Duke.
Chadwick Boseman succumbed to colon cancer on 28th August 2020 leaving behind a legacy of starring in a number of movies where he played the part of great African-American role models like Thurgood Marshall, the first black supreme court justice of USA, and Jackie Robinson, the first Black athlete to play in Major League Baseball. For a man who sought to inspire black people on the TV screens while battling cancer, Chadwick Boseman was a true hero. After the news of his death, Former US president, Barack Obama tweeted that when he first met the actor during the shooting of Jackie Robinson in 42, he could tell straight away that he was blessed.
But most of us will truly remember him for the movie Black Panther where he brought royalty, authenticity, and character on screen, in a role where he insisted on using the original African accent to depict the king of Wakanda, T’challa. The fantasy movie Black Panther tells a story of an isolated African country of Wakanda rich in the mineral vibranium, with high technological advancements in military, health, infrastructure, and communication systems.
The African country uses its mineral resources to advance itself and keeps an isolationist stance from the rest of the world, fearing that the discovery of vibranium may loose upon the world war and conflict if it falls in the wrong hands. Whereas the movie is every bit entertaining as it is exciting, Black Panther and the fantasy African country of Wakanda has left a lasting impression. Perhaps Chadwick Boseman's and Marvel’s greatest gift to the continent of Africa. The movie has valuable themes and lessons if one scratches the surface despite Marvel's disclaimer that any similarity to persons and events is unintentional. These are some of the invaluable lessons from the movie that might draw parallels with real-life contemporary Africa and African history;
Self-sufficiency of the African continent: Africa is a continent rich in mineral resources like copper, gold, diamond, cobalt. Vibranium in the movie Black Panther is an allegory to the mineral wealth of the continent. However, whereas in the movie, Wakanda uses its mineral resources to develop itself and make technological advancements, in real-life Africa, the reverse is true. A classic example is the DRC, a country rich in mineral resources and accounts for an estimated 70% of the world's cobalt reserves. The country is torn by endless internal conflicts from rebel groups, its minerals are exploited by world powers and big tech companies like Apple, Google, Tesla. Ironically, Apple is the world's first trillion-dollar company. The movie depicts what African countries like Congo can achieve if they were to utilize their mineral resources for their own development.
Africa's historical sin of abandoning its offspring to the outside world of slavery, the most famous being the Trans Atlantic slave trade. T’challa while visiting his ancestors consults his father T’chaka about a Wakandan man he had come across during the mission to catch Klaue. The Wakandan turns out to be N’jobu's son, the brother to King T'chaka. T’challa remonstrates with his dead father about why he abandoned the young boy to the outside world, perhaps his father's greatest mistake. T'challa vows to correct that mistake by opening up Wakanda to the people of Africa who face injustice in the outside world.
The movie also depicts the division that was apparent in post-independent Africa over conflicting views and ideas – the crevices that gave way to western imperial influence on the African continent. King T’chaka and his brother N'jobu disagree on Wakanda's role in world politics given the immense resources it has like vibranium. As a result, N’jobu collaborates with outsiders to steal vibranium from Wakanda which incurs the king's wrath. This results in N'jobu's death at the hands of King T'chaka leaving N'jobu's son N'jadaka orphaned and abandoned to the outside world. N'jobu's collaboration with an outsider Klaue opens up Wakanda to the threat of outside exploitation and causes internal division when Klaue enables N’jadaka to return to Wakanda to overthrow King T’challa. N'jadaka plans to use vibranium to pursue his agenda of dominating the rest of the world which according to King T'challa is not the Wakandan way and would make the nation similar to the colonizers. Wakanda is on the brink of destruction from the civil war in a conflict between N'jadaka and King T'chala.
This is an allegoric portrayal of the problems that faced post-independent African countries which stemmed from internal division and led to civil war and coups. The classic example is the conflicts between post-independent African leaders like Patrice Lumumba, the first prime minister of independent day Zaire, now DRC, and Mobutu Sese Seko, the army commander of the national army. Mobutu conspires with CIA and Belgian officials to murder Patrice Lumumba and take over Congo. The same story is seen in Burkina Faso where Blaise Campaore, second in command to Thomas Sankara, the revolutionary father of Burkina Faso, betrays him with the collusion of French authorities to stage a coup and throw Burkina Faso into the hands of imperialists. Although the comparisons might be seen as far fetched and not directly portrayed by the movie Black Panther, they offer parallels between the fantasy world of Wakanda and Africa.
The movie Black Panther offers a storytelling cinematic platform that is very effective in inspiring the young African generation to look at what the ideal world of a self-sufficient Africa can achieve. It also provides lessons of unity and good leadership that has for so long evaded Africa. The movie ends with a message of unity in diversity rather than world domination. Black Panther is Chadwick Boseman’s Wakanda legacy to Africa and the rest of the world.