Why Black Panther is an important story

If you have ever watched or read King Solomon’s Mines, you begin to see why it’s important to watch Black Panther as a detox for all the poison that British and American films and books have sown in our minds.

For a long time, the image of Africa and Africans that have been painted in the minds of the world has been that of the savage and barbaric, cannibals and all.

It’s not strange for some Europeans, Americans and Asians to ask questions like, do you live in houses? Do you wear clothes? How did you become so dark? Why do you wear buba and sokoto?

For many of them that have never been to Africa, these impressions were formed through stories like King Solomon’s Mines, Tarzan, etc.

Chinua Achebe read Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness as a young man and saw the need to counter that terrible narrative with Things Fall Apart, a story about an African system of life that was ended with the coming of the Europeans.

If all you have been exposed to is an image of the African and the Diaspora Black as less than, Black Panther engages you to rethink this.

And to counter the argument that it is only fictional, I wonder why the world thinks The King Solomon’s Mines and Tarzan are any more factual than a work of the writers’ imagination.

If you believe that there was an Africa as expressed in those stories, then you better start believing that there is also an Africa that exists in Wakanda.

In essence, the power of stories are there to make us imagine new and diverse possibilities. If we have been subjugated to the bottom of the world’s racial hierarchy through such terrible stories, it’s time we started to use new stories to rescue ourselves.

I am happy that my daughter has an alternative to watch. While it was the King Solomon’s Mines that shaped my mind about Africa as a child, I am glad that Black Panther would be the film that my daughter’s generation gets to hold as a template for their continent.

There can be no denying the fact that one of us has a better head start and self belief. And if they realize that Wakanda is not real, they have a burden to bring it to reality because it now exists in their subconscious. The stories that you feed to people will either elevate them or subjugate them.

As I see Africans in all countries of the world rise up to see a new form of representation of themselves on the big screen, it goes without saying that it’s time to start engaging one another on a new level.

Black people in America and Brazil and Argentina and Ecuador and the Caribbean who have never seen strong black men and women ruling countries on TV are experiencing joy from seeing the movie. Black kids in Brazil that have only ever seen people like them on TV as gangsters and drug dealers, whose key heroes have been whitewashed are seeing new versions of themselves.

We need to find a way to reconnect with all our Diaspora in this period. We need leadership that will chart the path for an African Renaissance, an Africa that shows the light for its citizens all over the world.

We need to start investing in more stories that change the narrative about us, not just for us but for our Diaspora and our children’s future.

For too long we have been fed with bad narratives about ourselves, it certainly feels good to be able to see a different perspective. And you never have to look odd in a dashiki or gele ever again because they have now become cool to wear.

African stories matter.

4 thoughts on “Why Black Panther is an important story

  1. As much as I want to appreciate the direction of this narrative, I believe it’s far fetching to state that Black Panther is jump starting a new discuss on Africa and African existential narratives. Stories and films that attempt to re-present Africa and African in better lights, countering stories such as King Solomons Mine had been ongoing since post-colonial Africa. In fact the increase in african renaissance reignited by the likes of Chimamanda Adichie and others can safely be said are reasons behind films like Black Panther, feeding into a populist consciousness that sees the motherland as the new ‘hip’. Films like Black Panther can only help increase the tide of acceptability for African nuances and nothing more. They journey started long ago.

      1. You may then thank information technology and all its attendant attributes for this and not the movie itself. The internet has opened up a bigger more robust avenue for knowledge and information acquisition across the globe giving projects like the black panther a wider reach. The owners of the project haven used this technology primarily to increase their revenue generation from the project rather than the altruistic idea of propagating africanism can be said to be the reason for the wider reach or desire to “see” the movie. I am also of the opinion that the movie connects more meaningfully with Africans (Americans) than others who have gone to see it mainly due to the marketing blitz and hypes.

  2. As true as this is I doubt it was on their minds when they made the movie, but it’s a brilliant point of view.
    Hello Lolade, I’m Tanitoluwa and I would honestly love the opportunity to write for you. Just followed you on twitter with my new account @tenutok and here’s my mail just in case – tanitoluwa.j@gmail.com.
    Thank you.

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