Exploring African Culture in Black Panther

With the latest movie release, Black Panther, breaking box office records around the world, there’s no better time to learn about African culture. UMKC’s African Student Association (ASA) recently held an event that only added to the enlightenment of the black race

Black Panther is a superhero film based on the Marvel Comics series. Its cast is mainly composed of African Americans whose characters changed the face of cinema history.

The movie has broken movie records, pushed difficult boundaries, removed cultural limitations and exceeded our expectations. It has helped to awaken an identity shift within the black community.

The ASA’s Experience Africa event shed light on three facts people might not know about Africa. After knowing these facts, you’ll be able to watch Black Panther with more empathy and understanding.

Fact #1- “Most Africans speak at least two languages,” stated speaker Dr. Adegoke. The characters in the movie spoke the African languages Swahili and Xhosa.

It’s refreshing that you don’t have to watch the movie in complete subtitles, because English was spoken throughout the movie as well.

Most African countries have started to adopt the English language into their culture because it’s a “necessary working language.” The fictional location of this movie, Wakanda, is no different.

Fact #2- Rituals are no stranger to the African culture. The most common African ritual appearing in Black Panther was a battle that took place if someone wanted to overthrow the king. This is just one of many African rituals.

Experience Africa speaker, Dr. Adrienne Walker Hoard, was able to participate in a bead ritual during one of her annual visit to Africa.

“After my many visits to Africa, they finally came to trust me. They welcomed me into their bead society. This was a ritual that revealed the integrity of purpose, sent love with prayerful passion, and many other things,” said Hoard.

Fact #3- African swag derives from their identity. Throughout Black Panther the characters’ exotic style unashamedly expresses the roots of African culture.

From bold colors, to beautiful accessories, and multilayers, it’s easy to grasp the fact that Africa is a continent of distinction. The tribal face paintings, many piercings, big ear holes, and lip drums sets Africans apart from any other race.

Their attire symbolizes power, status, freedom, and joy, which only adds to the impact of the movie. It’s simply who they are.

“Africans had to maintain their cultural identity after they began to watch television and realized that the world was watching,” said Dr. Hoard.

mtjgxb@mail.umkc.edu

(Photo credit Marvel)

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