The Hollywoodisation of Wakanda’s blurred identity

It’s the genius or blight of scriptwriting that sees an author blur fact and fiction to create an aura around a story. Nolan does it with Dunkirk, Bigelow with Zero Dark Thirty, which she referred to as journalism and in Black Panther, Coogler has neatly mashed multiple African heritage into a singular entity.

The admiration is in the coherency that also unifies allegory and sci-fi. Panther is an enjoyable film too with a playbook on dramatic arcs, parallel and circular narratives, the obvious causation, and touches of humour.

For Vibranium, take Gold, which as a metal was revered and aestheticised by African Kings and Queens before the Dutch arrived and sought to plunder a land they refer to as the Gold Coast, or further South, South Africa.

To their advance technologies, the Ghanaians, like so many African regions and tribes were brilliant alchemists and crafts men and women. Pendants were infused with spirits.

Today the King is not allowed to shake dignitaries hands without being aided by courtiers. I chuckled some at the riposte: what could Wakandans, agrarians, teach the world? Quite. Last year a Ghanaian secondary school, which I attended, won the world’s robotics championship, beating the Americans and Chinese.

The British too, as colonisers, waged war to loot the land in the 1900s only to be fought back by a formidable warrior Yaa Asentewaa, incarcerated in this castle on modern Ghana’s coast, before being shipped to the island prison of Secheylles.

These were the stories that I would encounter as a ten-year old Londoner sent off to Ghana to school. Ghana’s rituals are literally a gold mine to an anthropologist. scii-fing it up is but a fascinating way to give the rest of the world an in, with out emphasising too much the contention of the ongoing politics of of the West on African identity and self.

In short, Cooglar has opened the door for rich pageant African cultures to enter our psyche in muti-digital ways, Wakanda’s holywoodisation gives succor to an endless array of enticing stories. Let’s hear how others use it.

Top Writer & Creative Technologist, Int. Award Winner. Cinemajournalist. Cardiff Uni @jomec. PhD (Dublin). Visiting Prof UBC, Ex BBC/C4News. Apple profiled.

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