Black Panther’s legacy will ‘live on forever’

Wakanda: Chadwick Boseman played the African king of the world’s most advanced country. © Walt Disney

Is the future African? Black Panther fans are grieving the death of the actor who brought the superhero to life. For some, Wakanda was just a fantasy, but for others, it is the future.

“The ancestors spoke through him.” Tributes are flooding in for Chadwick Boseman, who died last week aged only 43. He was a “superhero for many” as Black Panther in the Marvel films, a “young, gifted and black” actor who inspired a generation. The final tweet on his Twitter account has become the most “liked” of all time.

This wave of grief reflects the impact the 2018 film had around the world. For millions of fans, Black Panther was like nothing they had seen before. A black superhero who was not a side-kick or a subplot, but the main character of his own Hollywood blockbuster, surrounded by a predominantly black cast.

Boseman played King T’Challa of Wakanda, a fictionalised African nation, technologically superior to the rest of the world.

Wakanda is an alternative Africa, not limited by these negative stereotypes. It belongs to a cultural movement called Afrofuturism, that envisions a world shaped by African technology and creativity.

The UN expects Africa’s population to double in the next 25 years, with 43% of Africans joining the global middle class by 2030. With an average age of 20, compared to 43 in Europe, Africa is a young, growing and entrepreneurial continent that may dominate the next century.

But is the future African?

Wakanda forever

No. Wakanda is a utopian vision of Africa without European colonialism and the plundering of its natural resources. It will take more than phone apps and smart cities to solve Africa’s problems.

Yes Africa has untapped potential that will shape our future. Trends show Africa is becoming more peaceful and more democratic and its young population is embracing the digital technologies that will be the key to the 21st century.

You Decide

  1. Who is the greatest superhero? Why do you think they are the best?

Activities

  1. Draw a picture of your own utopian country.

Some People Say...

“We must find a way to look after one another, as if we were one single tribe.”

Chadwick Boseman as Black Panther (1976 - 2020), American actor.

What do you think?

Q & A

What do we know?
It is generally agreed that humanity began in Africa. Our ancestry has been traced back to Lucy, a 3.2 million-year-old skeleton discovered in Ethiopia. Her descendants left Africa 70,000 years ago and spread across the rest of the planet. Over the last 400 years, the continent has been dominated by European interventions, from the Atlantic Slave Trade to direct rule and colonisation. Only after 1957 did African countries win their independence and start to determine their own future.
What do we not know?
One main area of debate is around what it really means to be African. There are 1.3 billion people in Africa, speaking more than 2,000 languages across 54 countries. Some argue that it is impossible to make generalisations about such a vast and diverse population. Others argue that a shared history of racism, slavery and colonialism unite many Africans. Nevertheless, when we talk about an African future, it is important to consider what we mean by Africa and Africans.

Word Watch

Black Panther
The 2018 film was based on the Marvel Comics character of the same name. Boseman was diagnosed with bowel cancer in 2016, battling the disease through his performance in seven films.
Afrofuturism
A diverse movement of writers, artists and musicians who draw on African history and culture to imagine the future. Authors influenced by Afrofuturism include N. K. Jemisin and Colson Whitehead. Musicians include Janelle Monáe and Missy Elliott.
Global middle class
For the first time in the history of civilisation, more than half the world’s population is considered middle class or wealthier, according to the UN. Because the middle class has money to spend on luxuries and recreation, its growth has a dramatic effect on societies.

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