Disney-Marvel’s Black Panther movie roared to victory at the US box office by portraying a continent a majority of African-Americans don’t know. And won’t know.
Maybe later. Or never.
To these people, whose understanding of blackness has been shaped in the West, Africa is a country with citizens who barely cover their naked body and whose children are always hungry. They have fed into the spurious crap by the Western media, designed to keep the continent perpetually tied to their metropolis, to the extent that they have turned down overtures to be reunited with their people.
Many of these African-Americans see criticisms by native Africans about their lack of knowledge about the continent as borne out of blissful ignorance than logic. We just don’t understand them and we won’t ever, they think.
“When Native Africans, who are not descendants of slaves, criticize Blacks of the diaspora…, I can tell they have no clue what we went through,” African-American, Arnold Burks wrote in July last year.
But what Burks and our other brothers and sisters don’t know is that the issue of race has never been about what African-Americans went through. It is everything about what Africans went through, together, in the hands of the people we thought were friends and brothers.
So when I convinced myself to watch the Black Panther movie, it was for two reasons; to find out what the people of African descent know about their ancestral home and to establish if African-Americans will, for once, break away from the maddening practice of recycling the lie the world has been told about the continent.
I dare say that none of the 54 African states can be likened to or come close, whatsoever, to the fictional Wakanda in the Black Panther movie. The sophisticated country may not be real but it shows how our nations can manage their resources to drive change.
The movie’s costume designers Ruth Carter and Hannah Beachler did a good job by drawing on real tribes and cultures to represent the people of Wakanda. But they could have done better if they had delved deeper, say visit the countries to learn a lot of things about the people there.
But the movie highlighted, in subtle ways, the identity dilemma that has been part of the African-American experience. The racist ideologies of Europeans and Americans and resistant ideas by some black Americans have created a situation where African-Americans don’t know who they are and where they belong.
Of course, there are two Africa – Western-created Africa and the authentic continent that is home to over 1.2billion generous and grateful people. And yes, the true Africa has more than half of the world’s natural resources buried in the belly of its land.
Although Marvel’s superhero film attempted to solve the identity puzzle, it ended up generating the same-old conversation known to lead us to Nowhere Land. How can people who share the same othered skin but separated by distance, culture and histories of oppression get along? Is this difficult to achieve?
Just when the audience thought Michael B. Jordan’s Killmonger, the villain in the movie, may lead us to the answers we’ve been longing for, we were left dejected once more, with nothing. Killmonger represented the embittered descendants of Africa who believe they have been disregarded and disrespected by their own.
Brimming with revenge, he burns the garden of the heart-shaped herbs where Wakanda grows vibranium and threatens to expose the nation to the world. His reasoning is not far-fetched. Tensions between the two parties have led to a clamour for revenge. Revenge. Revenge. And more of it.
American journalist Jessica Bennet ignorantly wrote: “part of the tension lies in the ignorance of many Africans about the history of their American brothers and sisters.” I think part of the problem is the inability of our brothers and sisters to accept who they are. You’re African. Descendants of Ghanaians, Nigerians, Senegalese and Ivorians. Simple.
Deal with it or postpone it forever. The choice is yours to make.
We can credit Black Panther movie for setting up a new communication line for Africans and African-Americans to engage in honest conversation. But the truth is, no one has stopped the two parties from talking to each other.
Perhaps, Angela Basset who acted Queen Mother Ramonda of Wakanda was right the time to engage each other is now. There’s a lot of catching up to be done.
Let’s hold nothing back and nothing against each other and the past.
The author, Austin Brakopowers is a Broadcast journalist at Joy99.7 and views expressed here are exclusively his and do not necessarily reflect the position of the Multimedia Group Limited or Myjoyonline.com. You can reach him via Brakomen@outlook.com