Black Panther: A Writer’s Response to Patricia Young-Sellers
“When I speak of African Genius, I mean something different from Negritude, something not apologetic, but dynamic…I do not mean a vague brotherhood based on a criterion of color, or on the idea that Africans have no reasoning, but only a sensitivity. By the African Genius, I mean something positive…the efficiency and validity of our traditional statecraft, our highly developed code of morals, our hospitality and our purposeful energy (Kwame Nkrumah, First President of Ghana)”
A BRIEF INTRODUCTION: THE MYSTERIOUS UNIVERSE OF BLACK PANTHER
Funny how I fell asleep right after watching the movie in its entirety...
The movie played the role of a soporific drug in my reckoning, to say the least!
Of course I am one who can't boast of being in possession of an excellent aroma of good sleep hygiene, you know.
Well...well...The movie wasn't bad at all. Yet I will also confidently say that after watching Black Panther, which I did with enterprising, surprising humility―as well as with the focused attention―of a child uninterruptedly glued to a television screen he or she may not have seen before, Trish, I didn't gain any overwhelming, intimidating sense of numbing originality in terms of the striking parameters of technical sophistication―strictly measured in the visual currency of casting artistry understood in the limited context of Ryan Coogler’s profound directorial filmography.
Perhaps, Trish, Black Panther has all the hidden hallmarks of technical sophistication, of a sense of original casting artistry, and of bold directorial imprint if I have had the chance to peruse a Marvel comic book on which the scriptwriting was based, reportedly, prior to watching the movie itself, I dare add, in order to have gained a deep appreciation of the artistic wealth and directorial insights and casting subtleties that generally inform the daring picture of Black Panther.
I make these theoretical claims on the sheer basis of the juxtaposing infrastructures of the well-known filmographies of established film directors, such as Steven Spielberg and George Lucas, the latter particularly known for his Star Wars.
To name but two.
I mean to say the special effects in Black Panther, for instance, share some striking parallels with those in Lucas’ Star Wars, in any of the Harry Potter movies, and in Spielberg’s Minority Report.
Far from anything else, though, this is not to downplay or to make light of Ryan Coogler’s penetrating knack for covetous yet expert directorial investment in artistic perfection, of his eye for the mind-blowing and mind-blogging extravagance of pictorial aestheticism.
It is, rather, to drive the point home or to suggest that, peradventure, Ryan has no ennobling equal in the teachable pantheon of creative black directorial stewardship.
Still, Black Panther is technically groundbreaking, bold and relatively nonpareil in its directorial formula and artistic imagination, strategically viewed from the normative intellectual, floral and faunal, and cultural landscape of the African world, as well as from the rich corpus of black filmography―generally speaking.
Ryan’s tactical and expert deployment of special effects reinforces the sci-fi personality of Black Panther, thus to some extent resuscitating the old debate about black genius in the arena of scientific and technological innovation, about the scientific originality of ancient Black Egypt in the science of mummification―for instance. The character of Letitia Wright, for instance, shows what the young black scientist, and a woman of course, is capable of doing in terms of scientific and technological innovation. The implications of science fiction, symbolized by Black Panther, are enormous!
Here in Black Panther, among other things, we see the cornucopia of beneficial characterology of science and technology being used for the common good…to both harness the priceless gifts and unravel the open secrets of health and wellness, to restore life, to crush the bloated and misplaced confidence and creepy usurpers and hijackers of peace and community and love and internationalism by autocratic hegemons―under the boots of equity, humanism, philanthropy, social justice, unity, and universal love.
Science and technology in the African world of Black Panther becomes God, a giver of life, so to speak. The character T’Challa, played by Chadwick Boseman, is a symbol of this salutary magnanimity.
Yet, we should not lose sleep over the fact that the benevolence of science and technology can equally be turned into an unrelenting enemy, the Michael Jordans, of human kindness and progress, of internationalism, of sharing, of philanthropy, of Nelson Mandela’s and Desmond Tutu’s Ubuntu, of universal love and cooperation.
Jordan’s redoubtable character Erik Killmonger, a slimy contrarian, is a Stalinist symbol of this Manichaean defiance, of internecine self-destruction paid for by the rambling illogic of greed, selfishness, self-centeredness, idiocy and self-deception. Killmonger was his own useful idiot. He overestimated the sinking wealth of his pathological tomfoolery in his ambitious usurpation of popular sovereignty, of the will of the people. In fact, he thought he could ravish the dinosaurian immensity of Wakanda in the stiflingly constricting geography of his starving, anorexic psychology.
The power-drunk Killmonger, the major diabolical author of Wakanda's near-implosion, is a neocolonial buffoon with no sustained sense of political direction to feed his itchy intrinsic urge for unmitigated aggrandizement, as he failed to represent a tactical balance between the self-destructive imperatives of militant foolhardiness and autocratic edginess!
THE PHILOSOPHICAL, CULTURAL AND HISTORICAL IMPORT OF BLACK PANTHER
“Only the best is good enough for Africa (Kwegyr Aggrey, A Gold Coast/Ghanaian Education Philosopher).”
The daring story of the political, cultural, intellectual and spiritual development of the powerful Kingdom of Wakanda, though punctuated by a colorful crisis of leadership in the wake of the eventful passing of T'Chaka, who was succeeded by the charismatic and visionary youthfulness of T'Challa, unfolds in a picturesque dramatization around the linchpin leadership of able-bodied T'Challa whose style of leadership technology, in part, flowed from the wellspring and taproot of a wise, experienced gerontocracy of men and women that was determined to guard against the cultural appropriation and outright thievery of the intrinsic stability, soul and humanity of Wakanda, in what this generous, proactive gerontocracy believed were primarily Wakanda's, and which T'Challa, by extension, believed were for the exclusive benefit of the teeming generality of humanity.
A rather torturous process whose hopeful genesis of dramatic eventuation, of a wobbling character, that is, systematically resolved into a happy culmination of sorts, with no sadistic betrayal of the strategic geopolitical interests of Wakanda.
All said, the natural beauties of matriarch Angela Bassett…Lupita Nyong’o…Danai Gurira…Shaunette Renée Wilson…Letitia Wright…Florence Kasumba…are inescapably spell-binding!
The matriarchal strength and formidable presence of Angela Bassett recalls the magnetic power and stately intelligence of 17th-century Queen Nzinga, of the powerful Kingdom of Matamba and the Kingdom of Ndongo…
That powerful African queen who used the genuflecting crawling bodies of African men as her private stool…
That powerful and feared queen of African antiquity who fiercely resisted the encroaching colonialism of the powerful Portuguese…
That gracious woman the late American anthropologist, linguist, professor and writer, Dr. Ivan Van Sertima, discussed in his classic book Black Women in Antiquity…
Oh yes, we see the varied landscapes of the natural beauty of the African woman in all of its characteristic colors and shades…body habitus…physiognomies…stature…stately gracefulness…attractive physique…carriage…enticing humanity…in all of her majestic glories, of old, of the present! The entrenched presential wisdom of the woman is timeless, bold in its provocative intelligential orgasm, always acting as the corrective bulwark against the creeping fallibility, the shambolic conceit and the all-knowing, masochistic shenanigans of unintelligent, childish manhood!
The woman of Wakanda, of Africa, an exotic and reigning kaleidoscope of hope and strategic intelligence...
What Bob Marley called She’s Gone…What Burning Spear called She’s Mine…What Michael Jackson and Paul McCartney called The Girl’s Mine…What Elvis Presley called Can’t Help Falling in Love…What Michael Bolton and Percy Sledge called When a Man Loves a Woman…What Prince Nico Mbarga called Sweet Mother…What Michael Bolton and Patti LaBelle called We’re Not Making Love Anymore…What Boys ll Men called I’ll Make to You…
It is exactly what we see when the hungry tiger of the black panther in T’Challa kissed the taming black panther lioness on the inviting sumptuous full lips of Lupita Nyong’o, a natural black beauty of the African world!
That innocuous-looking burning kiss was the Kiss of Death later unleashed on Killmonger...the ultimate conquest and absolute dissolution of Killmonger, a wounded paper tiger!
The woman is a glittering package of romantic wonder and a cornucopia of incomparable intelligence, not that I am selfishly objectifying the natural wonders of the physical and emotional landscape of the woman.
I cannot help it, the gracious, succulent melody of the woman, the sensuous, adorable idiom of the woman, but to sing the praises of the queenly majesty of the woman in the orgasmic dream-water of John Mayer’s Your Body is A Wonderland, thanks to the suppressed masculine sexuality of Black Panther, as the striking pushiness of feminine sexuality brings about a happy neutralization of phallocentric dominance in the social ecology of gender relations, the woman's pre-emptive tactical wisdom making a strong presence in the labyrinthine and Machiavellian politics of palatial and stately deliberations.
Indeed the olympian expanse of Africa, an inverse microcosmic alter ego of Wakanda, is truly and generously a wonderland, endlessly and galactically beautiful...like the intimidating charcoal aesthetic presence and raw clayey bountifulness of Lupita Nyong’o! However, the absorbing natural beauty of this wonderland nearly became a political desert of dehydrated cacti, of a consuming bonfire of dissenting and obstreperous voices, when from the sleeping shadows of the hospitable ambience of Wakanda a moirological apologist of technocratic, moral and political mediocrity, Killmonger, a cartoonish caricature of Trumpian likeness clothed in a trunkful epidermis of baby mountains of maculopopular rash, falsely staked a claim to the unifying soul, humanity, and dignity of Wakanda.
Then the rallying singular voice of the woman charged at the dissembled hypocrisy of the roaring usurper, the joker-face of Steele Pulse's Wild Goose Chase...at full throttle!
Far beyond the narrow stereotypical large buttocks and general morphological bulkiness of the likes of beautiful Sarah Baartman!
Far beyond the Hollywood-driven, near-anorexic body habitus of the likes of Kendell Jenner, a Kardashian, reportedly 2017’s highest-paid model in the world!
Far from the screaming engaging cacophony of Eve Ensler’s The Vagina Monologues!
For Hollywood has long been an eternal bloodsucking, cannibalistic mortal enemy of the dignified humanity of Africa! It hates Africa with a passion.
And this sudden volte-face in cultural and intellectual logistics tilted in favor of mournful, dehumanized Africa, this strange shedding of crocodile tears from Hollywood endlessly flowing into the wounded crater of Africa's gangrenous sores! Our humble submission, our crying appeal to the serial rapists of Africa's dignity and humanity, Hollywood included, is that we should give this shameless, backward-looking cultural hegemon, Hollywood, the benefit of the doubt, at least for now, and still, all the more reason for also bringing the African film industry out of the shadows and doldrums to tell the African story. It appears the African film industry still walks in the shadows of Hollywood.
Since Hollywood is not rooted in the dynamic methodology of the Afrocentric paradigm, it behooves the gatekepers of African values, worldview, traditions and culture, and history to take over the destiny of Africa from the tightening claws of imperialist designs, and to challenge the self-serving methodology underlying the imposed universalism of Eurocentric hegemony, with its tendentious cultural grandstanding in the globalized idiom of popular language, in order to firmly re-establish the spirited paradigm of cultural, racial and ethnic parity.
The voice is one's birthright, and if one chooses to abdicate its ownership to another then one also automatically ceases to exist, and on that account the abdicator usefully becomes a slavish embodiment of that shaming reality of dislocation circumscribed by the oversight domain of Ellisonian invisibility.
The voice of Black Panther is Stokely Carmichael's...Kwame Ture's...Black Power...the economic, political, and social empowerment of a new generation of thinkers, of leaders...who are ready to undertake a radical scientific, moral, and technological revolution to transform the Old Africa of neocolonialists, imperialists, economic rapists and vampires, and colonialists into a victory sign for the birth of a new nation, a new language for the political, moral and psychological reorentitation in the cancerous neocolonial skin of Old Africa...away from the static, disoriented voice of Du Bois' double consciousness...but towards the victory sign and conscientized voice of Afrocentric consciousness!
As Chinua Achebe corectly pointed out, "Until the lions have their own historians, the history of the hunt will always glorify the hunter."
SOME CRITICAL PERSPECTIVES: A CRITIQUE
“Remember when we used to dress like kings; conqueror of land, conqueror of seas; civilization far from the caves; oppressor man live; I curse that day, the day they made us slaves…A bright star, Africa;…A history, no more a mystery; Respect and authority, Africa; Climb ye the heights of humanity (Steele Pulse, Rally Round the Flag).”
What about the tactical and strategic military prowess of Lupita Nyong’o…Danai Gurira…Shaunette Renée Wilson…Letitia Wright…Florence Kasumba?
Again, Ryan is taking us all the way back to the African antiquity, to the powerful ancient locale of the Kingdom of Dahomey, present-day Benin, of West Africa, to the world of the Dahomey Amazons, so-called, an all-female military regiment in that ancient kingdom!
And who, if I may ask, said Africans were not capable of statehood, organization, tactical and strategic independence, and military defense of their strategic interests prior to their encounter with Europe?
And who, again, said Africa, the Mother of Humanity, is not beautiful?
Just take a quick look at the captivating panorama of the flowing bodies of water, the magnificent mountains, the all-embracing flora and fauna, the rich African accent and colorful costumes squeezed from the scented comfort of the loins of the African woman, the syrupy motherly bluish skies hovering over in protecting and gracing the humanity of the continent of Africa!
Africa’s water falls…Like TLC’s Waterfalls, produced by Laface, Babyface and Antonio Reid…Africa’s material and spiritual abundance!
This rich suit of those colorful costumes, a powerful statement on a salient African cultural motif, may as well be a deserving reincarnation, a cinematographic rephrasing, of the exotic costumed language of Eddie Murphy’s and Arsenio Hall’s Coming to America…
Of the numbing wonder of the natural African scenery, like the natural beauty of the Maasai people of Kenya, of Tanzania…
Of Bob Marley’s Waiting In Vain…though aspects of the directorial deployment of special effects in Black Panther looked so disappointingly and disarmingly cartoonish, a Hawkingian impressionistic stratosphere with a rapacious capacity for stalking the pedantic logic of science fiction, in the characteristic likeness of the string theory of Keanu Reeves' The Matrix!
The unmistakable aesthetics of African art at the beginning of the movie…of Lancelot Imasuen-directed movie Invasion 1897…
Europe…the West…has stolen so much from Africa…Africa still bleeds profusley from this grandstanding theft of the wounded soul of its gracious humanity...a non-healing wound, of Africa's distorted dignity!
And turning the stolen soul of living African art into chattel slavery in the Western hemisphere, with Andy Serkis, the character Ulysses Klaue, representing the vampiric empire of colonizing Europe on a deadly rampage of stealing spree, of precious African art and humanity, of Ota Benga being put on public display at the Bronx Zoo with monkeys to satisfy the hungry curiosity of Western audience, selling these stolen art works and using them to decorate the rapacious greed of Western museums...
Then, the chattel slave being forced into a consanguineous marriage with the beast of burden...Why must Africa not bleed with polluted rivers of bloody tears? And yet those flowing bloody tears are forgiving, hospitable and generous and caring...and loving...an unmistakable yet troubling irony of a doting mother!
Now, the rest of the world, tell me if this Africa, this primal Africa―not the forever-starving and sickly anorexic Hollywood Africa we have all come to know―is not endlessly and intrinsically and majestically and emotionally and physically and morally beautiful?
Is this Africa not as beautiful, physically and romantically attractive, and intelligent as the noble personalities, characters and vocal presence of Naomi Campbell, Lupita Nyongo’s, Nina Simone, Mariam Makeba, Queen Nefertiti, and Wangari Maathai, the mother of the Green Belt Movement?
Even the raw kinky hair, the exquisite coiffure, bubbling afro, straight hair, and feminine baldness of the African woman, like the terrifyingly sensuous, rich nature of the lyric and humming vocality of Africa’s interior resources on the soundtrack of Black Panther…takes us on a joyful journey to the creative collaboration between America’s Paul Simon and the signature instrumental vocality of Black South Africa, symbolized by his seventh studio album Graceland…
The sort of collaboration that, together, brought Western technology and Asian cultural norms and the African cultural personality and humanity in the fertile womb of Black Panther, staged on the global stage of cultural influence, of spectacular dominance.
Even the martial arts in Black Panther incorporates elements of capoeira which enslaved Africans introduced into the Western hemisphere, by way of Brazil, while Prof. Sertima forcefully argues in African Presence in Early Asia that martial arts itself is a creative product of the African genius, that ancient Africans introduced martial arts to the ancient world of Asia, China among others!
T’Challa and Erik Killmonger made generous use of capoeira when they engaged in mortal combat, ritual battle, supposedly clash of the titans in the African context of moral juxtaposition, of right and wrong, of good and evil, under the boulevardized radar of the pundic trees of vibranium, shot through the heavenly vagina cleavage of the noble woman of Wakanda!
This vagina cleavage is a silent metaphor for the psychic fecundity which the encircling parameters of human initiative, enterprising character, and creativity represent. The African world is not known for its intrinsic creativity even when the scleral whiteness of the black panther penetrates the pitch blackness of its blanket of fur with its flood of inventive light―unopposed. This vagina cleavage is the creative mind of God, the gateway to mortal innovativeness, at the same time the pantheistic presence of human ingenuity and cultural aesthetics in the streaming topology of African cosmogony. The largesse of melatonin and Black Panther meet at the crossroads of this vagina cleavage.
What is more, variations of capoeira appear in the pop culture of American choreography as seen in some of the loudmouth music videos of Madonna, Michael Jackson, James Brown, Justin Timberlake, Jennifer Lopez, MC Hammer, Lords of the Underground, Cher, House of Pain…and the movie You Got Served.
Black Panther shatters those ingrained self-serving Eurocentric myths, about African inferiority, about Africa’s forced subservience to white supremacy, about the imposed universalized cultural beauty and norms of whiteness, that black is also as beautiful, as intelligent, as strategic and tactical, as creative, and as wise as the Asian, as the Caucasian!
That may be why the aesthetic wheels of Black Panther galloped through the geographic gamut of Europe, America, Asia, and Africa! But Black Panther is not the mouthpiece of ethnic and racial supremacy―far from it. It is about equality of strategic purpose, of human strivings for relative perfection in an otherwise imperfect, brutal world already choking on ideational pollution and dangerous existential philosophies.
Now, given that the African black panther is a leopard, one of the fastest animals on the planet, is there the slimmest probability that it could outrun the limitless capacity of the human mind, in terms of the sustained effort of organizational finesse on the part of humans to find answers to human problems? The humiliating failure to locate these answers may be why we are addicted to some of the glaring calculating deceptions of science fiction.
It is however not science fiction when the Dogon people of ancient Mali, West Africa, discovered Sirius B, supposedly the brightest star in the night firmament, before the most sophisticated of Western technologies could make a similar claim. The Sirius star is like the scleral whiteness of the African black panther. Robert Temple’s The Sirius Mystery, Marcel Griaule’s Conversations with Ogotemmeli: An Introduction to Dogon Religious Ideas, and Marcel Griaule’s and Germaine Dieterlen’s The Pale Fox speak to this marvel of ancient African cosmology.
Cheikh Anta Diop’s African Origin of Civilization: Myth or Reality reinforces these scientific and historical claims!Indeed the African is a superhero in many important ways.
And he shares this with the rest of humanity.
THE FICTION OF RACE AND ETHNICITY: THE UNIQUE PERSPECTIVE OF BLACK PANTHER
“You can play a tune of sorts on the white keys, and you can play a tune of sorts on the black keys, but for real harmony you must use both the black and white (Kwegyr Aggrey, A Gold Coast/Ghanaian Education Philosopher).”
That whiteness and blackness, that race and ethnicity, have no scientific basis in fact, that these constructs are mere inventions, mostly self-serving constructs borne out of the pragmatic dilemma of economic and political convenience.
That whiteness and blackness, that race and ethnicity, are impenetrable netherworlds of nothingness forever lost in the cottony fogginess of anthropogenic-driven mortal greed!
Do we see Mellody Lucas, George Lucas’ ebony wife in the womanistic excellence of Black Panther?
In Paul McCartney’s and Steve Wonder’s Ebony and Ivory! Milk in pitch black coffee!
That made-up or concocted world of racial and ethnic variegation dissolves in the gene pool of Black Panther, of the fecund blackness of humanity―Africa, the mother of humanity, also the birthplace of human civilization!
That pool of fertile blackness is therefore the primordial origination of human variegation, like the complex recipe of a delicious meal, of a sumptuous dish!
Like the endless sea of calculating stars in our ever-receding psychological expanse of heavenly ecology, Milky Way!
Oh, ye people of the world, here and now and beyond, the gracious humanity of Africa is such an unfathomably beautiful thing, an intoxicating wonder to behold!
Pure science fiction, these self-serving and perfunctory constructs! The nonsense of it, this shameless mortal enterprise!
This Mama Africa of bountiful inner grace, of which Peter Tosh sang so poignantly about, goes like this:
“How are you doing Mama?
“Long time, no see you Mama
“They took you away from me Mama
“Long before I was born…
“Long before I came on in…
“There’s so many things about you
“Wondering where you are
“They tried their best to hide you from me…
“But I search and find you…
“In you there is so much beauty
“In you there is so much life
“In you there is so many kingdoms
“To me it’s out of sight…
“You are the mother of gold
“You are the maker of diamond
“You are the maker of pearls
“And the maker of all precious stones…
“I’ve been waiting, yearning, looking
“Searching to find you, Mama
“You’re my mother, Africa
“You’re my father, Africa
“I’ve been crying, praying, hoping
“That I may find you, Mama
“I’m proud of you, Mama
“I love you dearly…
“I love you heavenly...
Africa, the most genetically diverse continent on the planet, is color-blind as it is in all of us, whether we like it or not, for color is a deceptive quality of human distorted invention, a troubling figment of human imagination.
"It don’t matter if you’re black or white,” sings Michael Jackson. It really doesn’t matter because Michael himself stood tall as a lingering cultural, cosmetic and biologic transition between whiteness and blackness. The collaboration between T’Challa and Everett Ross bespeaks this shining exemplar of strategic and tactical colorblindness in restoring peace, community, amity, and brotherhood to a landmine of anarchy.
Of all the things in nature, love is color-blind in spite of the pitch blackness of the black panther, James Brown’s Say it Loud―I’m Black and I’m Proud, a fitting emotional soundtrack of and tribute to Michael Jackson’s You Rock My World, the wonderland of mighty Africa, of mighty Wakanda. True love, in a platonic and non-platonic sense, is no eye-popping chameleon. Bob Marley referred to this existential philosophy as War, a throwback to the tactical wisdom of Ethiopia’s Emperor Haile Selassie:
“Until the philosophy which holds one race superior
“And another inferior
“Is finally and permanently destroyed, discredited and abandoned
“Everywhere is war…
“Until the color of a man’s skin
“Is of no more significance than the color of his eyes…me say war
“That until the basic human rights
“Are equally guaranteed to all, without regard to race…This is a war
“That until that day
“The dream of lasting peace, world citizenship, rule of international morality
“Will remain in but a fleeting illusion to be pursued
“But never attained
“Now everywhere is war…
That man is an internecine contradiction and a dangerous irony onto himself, that man is his own wicked enigmatic enemy, that man is his own death and graveyard and obituary, and that man is his own resurrection and solution are profound statements on the factual practicum of political life which we can deny the film of. Also, that self-directed pridefulness is a befitting tribute to the freedom of the African world from the excruciating shackles of cultural dislocation is a foregone conclusion. Fact is, the unmistakable Afrocentric signature of Black Panther makes for an electrifying dramatization of the willed tendency of the African world to come to terms with its cultural, intellectual and humanistic dislocation.
CONCLUDING OBSERVATIONS AND REMARKS
“We come together, to overcome, the little trouble…’Cause I don’t want my people to be contrary (Bob Marley, Zimbabwe).”
Mama Africa is Tupac’s Dear Mama…How can Peter Tosh then call Mama Africa “my father”?
Black Panther offers a subtle riposte to this standing question: Angela Bassetta, a respected repository of the power of traditional African medicine and its healing prowess, a symbolic author of The Egyptian Book of the Dead, the magical source of T’Challa’s reincarnation from the ice-cold ecology of the dead back to the wicked world of the living, to reassume his rightful place among wise men.
Forest Whitaker, as Zuri, defies the stereotypical effeminacy of weak leaders and in the process assumes the patriarchal chaperonage of T’Challa, employing and marshaling his vision, his forces of intellect, and his intimate knowledge of the cultural universe and insider insights of the politics of Wakanda to make his charge, T’Challa, a powerful and visionary leader in the likeness of T’Chaka. Zuri's identification with raw foodism probably feeds into his superhuman strength, a reason why T'Chaka may have entrusted the developmental, intellectual and cultural care of his succeeding seed to him.
Well, a comparison of Zuri to Okonkow, the tragic hero of Chinua Achebe’s magnum opus Things Fall Apart, is in many ways apt though not necessarily of the conceptual wavelength of characterological parity.
With the passing of T’Challa’s father, therianthropic T’Chaka, a name no doubt reminiscent of the great Shaka Zulu, one of Africa’s and the world’s most respected, loved and powerful military strategist-king, Bassett assumed the mother-father role in T’Challa’s life, her step-son. More so, the resurrection of T'Challa signals the rise of the African world from the burdensome ashes of colonialism, economic imperialism and neocolonialism, with neocolonial stooges like Erik Killmonger driven from the volcanic crater of their uninspired usurpation of Africa's destiny.
Black Panther then delves a little bit into the philosophical depths of Africa’s Ancestral Worship, during which T’Challa made an emotional encounter with his dead father for inspiration and elderly wisdom.
Black Panther therefore shows the youth of the African world taking over leadership roles from the passing crop of elders, of the older generation, thus making ephebiphobia a thing of the past.
This submission does not, however, rule out the fact that elderly wisdom still permeated the new-found youthfulness of the leadership of the African world through active, optimal collaboration between elderly leadership and youthful initiative. This may be why respect for African traditional and conservative values held such sway over the postmodernist character of Black Panther.
Physical, open display of romance or public exhibition of intimacy and affection, like kissing and salacious fondling, are not dominant motifs in Black Panther. African culture is very traditional and conservative in matters of public intimacy, affection and romance.
But, obviously, the art of sharing, philanthropy, hospitality, universal love, and generosity are not rare artifacts in the African intrinsic nature. In pint of fact, they are the very essence of the African personality―in other words. This is the symbolic speech which T’Challa made to an international body after taking back his throne from Erik Killmonger and resuming his leadership of Wakanda, at the conclusion of Black Panther!
In other words what belongs to the intrinsic character of the African, including of his natural wealth, spirituality, personality, intelligence and wisdom, body and soul, love, and unbridled hospitality, also belongs to humanity. Africa gifts itself to the world. Already, Africa has gifted itself to a mourning world drowning in dangerous depths of unsympathetic misery, a world crying for dignity, social justice, peace, and stability. Africa is that taming hand of the black panther, a loving nightness of phenomenological warmth and absorbing humanity, also known for its steeped motherly bountifulness.
T’Challa’s progressive view of internationalism, cultural globalism, scientific and technological cooperation, universal love, and the art of sharing is unlike the industrial espionage of Michael Crichton’s Rising Sun. Granted, we dare not make light of the international cast of Black Panther.
Africa has always given its all to humanity!
In the end, the shining character and example of T’Challa represents the fighting and philanthropic spirit of the African, the humanistic dimensions of Bob Marley’s War, Africa Unite, Zimbabwe…and Culture’s Tribal War…Lest I forget, also of Bob Marley’s One Love:
“One heart, one love!
“Let’s get together and feel all right…
“Let them all pass all their dirty remarks
“There’s only one question I really want to ask:
“Is there a place for the hopeless sinner: Who has hurt all mankind just to save his own beliefs?...
“Let's get together to fight this Holy Armageddon…
The fighting spirit of the African does not give up until the Olympic flame, until strategic victory, not Pyrrhic vitory, is eternally his.
Yet Erik Killmonger, that hopeless sinner, is an antithesis of T’Challa, an emblem of what Bob Marley refers to as coming “together to fight this Holy Armageddon,” yet at the same time a noble character against human disunity, parasitism, corporate greed, balkanization, racism and ethnocentrism, war, and misanthropy. That the product of human ingenuity is for all is beyond question! Universal love and creative collaboration are the only answers to the conundrums of the human condition. Stated differently, diversity and collaborative symbiosis are the missing links in the evolutionary chain of scientific and technological innovation―the positive outcome of the human genome project bearing testimony to this idea.
The film is therefore a valid cinematographic metaphor for black creative, cultural and intellectual prowess in the sense that it humanizes the perennially assaulted, insulted and debased profundity of African intellect. It mocks the sacrosanctity of Eurocentric pretensions to a higher power of intellect and the hypocritical shenanegans of Western psychology. This film, a radical antithetical defiance of jaded Eurocentric orthodoxies, including of the moral critique of the social and political apotheosis of universal white supremacy and white privilege, represents the futuristic re-enactment of that new scientifically, technocratically and technologically vibrant Africa devoid of the fermented morality of anarchic contradictions, political ethnocentrism, excessive material greed, kleptomania and political corruption. The film subtly denounces the political immaturity so evident in that geopolitical stillborn invention of the imperial West, neocolonial Africa.
This classic film, more than anything else, also powerfully demonstrates that the black man is indeed capable of cultural, political and intellectual sophistication, of moral authority in international relations. Absent the corrupting and condescending influences of external forces of patronage and oversight, the African world is more than capable of political morality and independence of strategic thought. That the African is a master of his destiny echoes the thematic substance of Black Panther. Thus Black Panther has eloquently spoken, and has eloquently spoken well! Let the world therefore listen to this powerful voice of reason!
Black Uhuru sings, “Guess who Is Coming to Dinner?”
Answer: Kendrick Lamar, the producer of the soundtrack for Black Panther, a Pulitzer Prize-winning musical genius, the new rhapsodic, revolutionary face of social, moral and political evangelism!
There you go gal, Madam Patricia Young-Sellers!
Disclaimer: "The views/contents expressed in this article are the sole responsibility of Francis Kwarteng and do not neccessarily reflect those of Modern Ghana.