Black Panther– The Nigerian Viewpoint

Hear the name and one thing pops to mind. The MCU movie!

The movie casts were appealing as they did justice to the characters they enacted (no DC shade intended In no preferential order, I shall be discussing them, as well as giving a Naija scrutiny to their roles.

Yea! Shuri (Letitia Wright). Acting as Black Panther’s younger sister and Wakada’s Princess; her personality portrayed the image of first, a female who is not afraid to explore the world (given to her technological aptness), and next, her ability to readily face any kind of opposition as shown in the scene where she used her self-made weapons in combating the villain – Erik Killmonger. In spite of her gender, there was no suggestion of weakness nor inferiority in her stance. This character could galvanize the average Nigerian female to explore and take a lead position in the world of Science and technology.

M’baku (Winston Duke). Was it his street credibility and jocularity, as displayed when he said “Are you done? A-a-are you done?” and when he laughingly said to the CIA agent Everett “…I’m kidding. We’re vegetarians” OR the spirit of sportsmanship he showed when he kept T’Challa covered in snow just to keep him (T’Challa) alive even at the brink of death, that got me fascinated? That is one not-so-civil character I admire. Nicely played, that one!

The Dora Malaje Warriors. Headed by Okoye (Danai Gurira) and having Ayo and

many others as members, these female warriors are “ghe ghen”. They have the mastery of hand-to-hand combats, martial arts and spear fighting which they employed in fighting for the Black Panther. Their sense of loyalty to whoever sits on the throne (be it a villain or a noble man) is unflinching, yet alluring. The Dora Malaje army is one depicting unity, strength and honor amid loyalty. These are strong women that do not give in to intimidation, whose selfless roles in protecting the Wakanda kingdom never went unnoticed. A cue to all Nigerian women, this is!

T’Challa (Chadwick Boseman). Playing the titular character of the Black

Panther, T’Challa proved against his father, T’Chaka’s philosophy: that no “good” man can be king. Indeed, he was a good man, yet a befitting King of Wakanda. Ladened with a sense of duty to his nation, he protected his heritage and was careful enough not to get sunk in isolation from the rest of the world. As revealed in the scene where Nakia told him that, “I have seen too much to turn a blind eye”, Black Panther agreed to help other nations of the world with Wakandan resources and technology. This is how any true ruler should be – not given to hoarding of resources.

Nakia (Lupita Nyong’o). T’Challa’s ex is a skilled Wakandan spy. The high point of her role was after T’Challa was overthrown by the main antagonist – Erik Killmonger. Amidst the unrest, Nakia – scared for the nation, as well as the lives of the Queen, Princess and herself, asked Okoye to defeat Killmonger but Okoye pledged fealty to the throne. As a spy, and thus, wired differently from Okoye and other Dora Malaje warriors, Nakia chose “Saving” her country over Okoye’s choice of “Serving” the country. What eventually became of the country could be attributed to Nakia’s quick decision on that corridor!

Come to think of it, the reference of Nigeria’s Sambisa forest in Black Panther can make any keen follower of MCU raise an eye brow. Not to add, the Igbo- influenced accent of M’baku. Or does anyone still remember the “not so familiar” Lagos scene in Captain America? You get the drift, right? Great. Believe it or not, Nigeria is placed on a high pedestal.

Though fictitious in its plot, the characters drove home an ideal African scenario; how it should have been from the beginning – one devoid of colonialism and exploitation, with inclination towards national health, security and advancement. Just as the popular saying goes: No one can undo the past but there is a chance to recreate the future.

In that light, we could borrow a leaf from the catch phrase, “Wakanda Forever”.

How about “Nigeria Forever”? Cool, right? That could help scrap out fractional slogans, such as “Up ABC” or “XYZ…power”.  As possible as that sounds, it’s not going to be a day job – but we can start today!

Haha. This isn’t getting me sounding like some activist, is it?

As for the Dora Malaje wariors, putting gender aside for a second, their coordination, dedication and stoic courage makes me wonder for our own Nigerian “warriors”. Well, I still look forward to our having a totally indomitable and formidable Force – one that is unyielding to selfish dictates of the “enthroned” while taking to utmost consideration, the principal interests of the countrymen.

Need we say, this is my take on Black Panther, the movie? Sure, it is!

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