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The Representation of Africa in Hollywood:- Black Panther

1345 words (5 pages) Essay in Film Studies

08/02/20 Film Studies Reference this

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REPRESENTING RACE AND ETHNICITY

Introduction

Five African clans war over a vibranium. One warrior ate a heart formed herb touched by the metal and it increased his superhuman capacities, turning him into the “black panther” he joined every tribe together except the Jabari clan to create a country called Wakanda. Wakanda a country of intense culture, technology evolved from just a third world country to a nation with its continent and other countries but Wakanda was only interested in keeping its People safe Hence kept their Vibranium to themselves; leaving the rest of the world without help.

 In 2018, Black panther was released; it is an American film based on Stan Lee’s marvel comics character black panther. It was set in secluded but technologically advanced African nation of Wakanda. It stars Chadwick Boseman As T’challa alongside Michael B. Jordan, Lupita Nyong’o, Danai Gurira, Martin Freeman, Daniel Kaluuya, Letitia Wright and many more. Ryan Cooglar’s Film Shows How Africa Was Represented In The Film through various, Costume . Long before the release of black panther, the western portrayal of Africa in films was one of filth, violence and misery; a Continent occupied by the uncultured and barbaric yet most naïve. The Movie enlightened people about the African culture through various pieces of culture, Cultural Practices, Costume, Language , Appreance and ideology represented in the film which belonged to several African countries  and the fictional country Wakanda.

The Body

While wakanda does not represent only one region of africa, it fused and imitated the continent’s many cultures. The Costumes  was inspired by tribes across the continent. Queen Ramonda’s headgear  is worn by married Zulu women of South Africa for ceremonial purposes. W’kabi’s cape also known as Seana Marena is traditionally worn by Sotho people by the Basotho of Lesotho in the Southern Region of africa. Nakia’s Clothing’s is linked to the Suri of Ethiopia, and the Dora Milaje’s regalia by the Maasai of Kenya and Tanzania. A Wakandan elder in the throne room wore a lip plate culturally affiliated to the Mursi people of Ethiopia. the Dora Milaje, the primary bodyguards of the king inspiration is  drawn from Dahomey Amazons, an all female army in the Benin Kingdom.

T’challa wore Kente , a royal and sacred cloth worn only in times of extreme importance and native to the Akan ethnic group of south Ghana. The Mask worn by Killmonger also known as Mgbedike is an Artefact mostly known to the Igbo People of Eastern Nigeria.

One Of The Wakandan Elders Wore locs common to Himba Women in Namibia and Angola. Although English was the General Language used in the Movie, the characters spoke and wrote in two different Languages. Wakandas official language is isiXhosa, one of the official languages in South Africa. It is a language that more than eight million South Africans use as their mother tongue. Wakanda has a different written Language, The second Language is Nsibidi Language and  It was transcribed T’challas’ Throne; It is a centuries-old Nigerian language from the Ejagham people in cross river state of Nigeria that used symbols instead of words or sounds. Although Nsibidi Appeared  in some parts of the Film, the core written language was created by the movie’s production designer, Hannah Beachler.

Black Panther emitted great history regarding slave trade, the European colonization of Africa and o current affairs with respect to the Chibok girls. Certain aspects of the movie attempted to provide some perspective from the Africans Point of View. The beginning of the movie showed T’Challa, the soon to be crowned Black Panther, ambushing a convoy of men who had kidnapped some girls with the help of Nakia, a Wakandan spy, in the Sambisa Forest in Nigeria. The rescue was successful to shed more understanding on the Boko Haram ambushed attack and abduction 276 girls in all-girls boarding school in the town of Chibok in Borno, Nigeria. They kidnapped and married some of them off to the fighters and sold the others to slavery. The girls are believed to be held captive in Sambisa Forest hence the use of that setting; although in the movie they were all rescued, in reality some girls are still missing. The Scenes where Killmonger was  At the museum before he stole the ancient tool made of Vibranium, he and the curator looked at a couple of masks. One of those masks was the Benin Ivory Mask of Queen Ida of the Benin Empire in the 16th century. Killmonger asked how much the masks would cost, and the museum curator said they were not for sale. Killmonger asked a significant question? “How do you think your ancestors got these?”; this is because The answer to that question is a dark part of the United Kingdom’s history during its quest to build the empire the sun never set on. The history of how the british invaded the Kingdom of Benin, burning down the palace of the Oba (King), killed thousands and took thousands of priceless artefacts as spoils of war. Among the artifacts stolen is the Queen Ida mask, which was shown in the movie. Towards the end of the Movie after T’Challa defeated Killmonger in their final battle , T’Challa offered to heal Killmonger with Wakandan technology, Killmonger refused and made a statement before he die; He said “Bury me in the ocean with my ancestors who jumped from ships, because they knew death was better than bondage.” That presented history of the mass Suicide by Some of the Africans who were enslaved and taken from their homelands 400 years ago. They chose to jump into the ocean and die instead than live in bondage when they were being transported to plantations in the Americas. In the Medium.com article “ The Cultural Impact of The Black Panther Movie on the African Diaspora”, columnist Ola King stated that T’Challa’s mission to protect his nation’s resources reflected on the current plight of people in real life Africa – which has been exploited, mined, and colonized for centuries and I believe that through that westerners understand Africans need to protect their own.

In Conclusion, The Writes, directors and Producers through the movie represented Africa different from it through various pieces of culture, Cultural Practices, Costume, Language , Appreance and ideology represented in the film and although the movies. Other Hollywood Movies can change the narrative of how African show be and Represent what Africa should be.

References

  • Beauchamp, Z. (2019) What Black Panther Can Teach Us About International Relations[online] available from <https://www.vox.com/culture/2018/2/27/17029730/black-panther-marvel-killmonger-ir> [7 May 2019]
  • Black Panther (2018) – Imdb (2019) available from <https://www.imdb.com/title/tt1825683/?ref_=ttpl_pl_tt> [6 May 2019]
  • Cooglar, R. (2018) Black Panther. [film] Hollywood: Marvel Studios
  • Ide, W. (2019) Black Panther Review – A Self-Contained Marvel [online] available from <https://www.theguardian.com/film/2018/feb/11/black-panther-review-marvel-chadwick-boseman-wakanda> [6 May 2019]
  • Igbo Landing (2019) available from <https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Igbo_Landing> [7 May 2019]
  • Kemabonta, T. (2019) OPINION: Comparing Africa And Wakanda From Marvel’S ‘Black Panther’ [online] available from <https://www.tommiemedia.com/featured-news/opinion-comparing-africa-and-wakanda-from-marvels-black-panther/> [7 May 2019]
  • King, O. (2019) The Cultural Impact Of The Black Panther Movie On The African Diaspora[online] available from <https://medium.com/@olaking/the-cultural-impact-of-the-black-panther-movie-on-the-african-diaspora-1fdd329a8405> [6 May 2019]
  • Mutema, E. (2019) The African Influences In The Black Panther – Africa.Com [online] available from <https://www.africa.com/the-african-influences-in-the-black-panther/> [6 May 2019]
  • Roach, D. and Sanderson, P. (2019) Black Panther | Creators, Origin, Stories, & Film [online] available from <https://www.britannica.com/topic/Black-Panther-comic-book-character> [6 May 2019]
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