To many Africans at home and abroad, the Marvel movie ‘Black Panther’ which was released on Feb.16, 2018 was more than just a movie but a movement.
This was the first time Marvel had produced a movie with an entirely black lead casts that included Africans and African Americans.
The Black Panther casts included African Americans such as Chadwick Boseman, Michael B. Jordan and Forest Whitaker, and Africans such as Lupita Nyong’o who is from Kenya and Danai Gurira, from Zimbabwe.
“This is the first time that Africa has been humanized in Hollywood,” said James Frunwi, an African immigrant from Cameroon.
Frunwi said Africa had always been portrayed as the dark continent, full of malnourished people.
“It was a breath of fresh air to see something different from what we have been accustomed to seeing,” he said.
The movie has become a huge hit around the world.
Forbes magazine reported on March 14 that the world-wide box office for the film had topped $1.1 billion.
Black Panther is set in the fictional African country of Wakanda, which was never colonized and had a lot of resources.
“All African countries except for Ethiopia and Liberia, were colonized,” said Frunwi.
“Though fictional, we get to see what African countries would have been if they weren’t colonized,” he said.
“This movie just showed us what we would have been if we were allowed to write our own history without the evil deeds of colonialism,” said Frunwi.
Frunwi said beyond the beauty of the film, Black Panther showed the deeper relationship between Africans and African Americans.
“Things are starting to change and a lot more people are starting to have these conversations to see how they can progress,” said Frunwi.
To some Africans, Black Panther is a source of hope that Africans will start being portrayed in a different light in the media.
“We should never underestimate the power of TV in human lives,” said Chimamda Okoye, a Nigerian immigrant who lives in Calgary.
“For a very long time Africa has been portrayed as the poor continent, always needing aid,” said Okoye.
“Now the narratives are starting to change and people will start seeing Africa in all its beauty,” she said.
Okoye said what struck her most on a personal level was seeing women being equals to men in the movie.
“It was a beautiful thing to see, given that the African continent is a deeply patriarchal society where women are still seen as inferior to men,” said Okoye.
“Seeing those women in powerful positions fighting for their country is something that should change our narrative in Africa,” she said.
Okoye said from the movie, it is evident that women, if given the opportunities, will do a lot for their respective countries.
“A Marvel movie had a language that I understood,” said Okoye.
We should never underestimate the power of TV in human lives.- Chimamda Okoye
“Black Panther started with a scene from Nigeria and I am from that area where they speak that language,” said Okoye.
Okoye said she has never felt more proud being an African after watching Black Panther.
“I felt immense pride and joy for my people and hopefully this is just the beginning of many more to come,” she said.