Black Panther: My Take Away and Lessons for Nigeria
By Silas Emovwodo
There really is something magical about the latest superhero film based on the Marvel comic character of the same name. The movie directed by Ryan Coogler with real African casts has grossed in over a billion dollars in box office.
When I saw the movie in the cinema, I (a Nigerian) was in the company of two African friends, one Ethiopian and the other a Zimbabwean. We were the only blacks at the time of the movie screening in a South East Asian country’s cinema.
As we watched, we were a washed with emotions seeing both tangible and intangible materials of our culture on display for the world to appreciate, from the costumes to the languages spoken. My Zimbabwean friend was repeating some words in Xhosa as she explained to us that Shona– a local Zimbabwean dialect- is closely related to Xhosa. My Ethiopian friend confirmed the use of plastic on the lips as a means of beautification by ladies in a particular Ethiopian tribe as well as the name T’Challa as a masculine name. For me, when I heard the actors speaking Hausa in Sambisa forest during the rescue operation of the abducted #ChibokGirls, I had a tingling feeling that words can’t describe. I turned to my friends and said in a hushed tone “that’s Hausa they’re speaking. Real Hausa”. At that point, we forgot we were in a cinema. For a moment it seemed we were the only ones in there. The joy of the successful rescue of the abducted girls in the movie, however, leaves much to be desired in reality as the abduction and subsequent return of the #DapchiGirls was a sore reminder of more than 200 #ChibokGirls abduction of 2014 and an apparent failure of our leaders to learn from their mistakes.
There is no gainsaying that Nigeria and indeed the whole of Africa is in dire need of its own #BlackPanther.
My first take away was from T’Challa’s father to the new king. He said, “surround yourself with good people you trust”. This is important if we will make any appreciable progress in life. Regardless of what stage we are in life, we need the positive energy that oozes out of the good people we trust that surround us. This is because in life. We will always get to points where our strength, will, and energy to forge ahead, to continue, to press on will be drained or just diminish for various reasons. If this is lacking, we might never get up or stay longer than expected when knocked down by the vicissitudes of life.
At the point Killmonger was brought before the king and the council of elders, he chided the king and the kingdom for not using its weapons in a certain way. T’Challa’s response: “our weapons will not be used to judge the people of the world” is my second take away. Whatever weapons we may seem to have garnered in our arsenal, be it knowledge, intelligence, finances, material or human resources, whatever, it must be deployed not to judge others, but to help others develop and grow. That is the essence of those weapons. We must constantly refuse the urge to exploit and extort those whose arsenals are not as sophisticated as ours.
In the same vein, we must know that accidental leadership and dictatorship never birth anything good. History is replete with people ascending to leadership positions “accidentally” as well as dictators taking over power, especially in the sleeping giant of Africa, the continent and other parts of the world. History has also recorded the unpalatable consequences this had on the people. Killmonger was an accidental leader and a dictator and his short reign almost ruined everything and made vain the labors of Wakanda’s heroes past. Lisa Petrill (www.lisapetrill.com) while taking on the subject of accidental leaders give three explanations thus:
- An accidental leader is someone who finds himself unexpectedly in a position of leadership to which they did not originally aspire.
- Someone who may or may not actually be practiced in the art of leadership.
- Someone who rises to the occasion, sometimes against great odds.
In Killmonger’s case, the second point explains his kind of accidental leader. He was not practiced in the art of leadership. He was merely on a revenge mission. The combination of being unpracticed in the art of leadership and vengeance was evident in his lack of a sense of values and belief structure, which are hallmarks of great leaders. The lesson here is that as we prepare to go to the polls in 2019, we must elect leaders who are prepared for the offices they desire to occupy, candidates who are practiced in the art of leadership i.e. they have a track record and finally someone who is willing and ready to rise to the occasion against great odds. To put it in other words, we must look out for leaders with the 3 C’s of Competence, Character, and Capacity as espoused by the #RedCardMovement.
Another crucial lesson from the record making movie is to forge viable alliances. This was what the queen mother, Nakia, and M’baku did. A tree does not make a forest our elders say. An axiom that comes to mind is that if you want to go fast, then go alone. However, if you want to go far, then go as a team. Nakia had earlier stated her intention to save her people from the accidental leader and dictator Killmonger, but forging a viable alliance granted speed to it.
In a twist of fate, forging that alliance helped restore life to the erstwhile dethroned king T’Challa as he was in the custody of M’baku. So, sometimes, an alliance may just be the lifeline we desperately need. When T’Challa was being restored to life, he had to meet with his ancestors in the spirit again. This time, his father urged him to join them in the great beyond but he refused, rebuked his father and ancestors for not doing the right thing and retorted “we let the fear of our discovery stop us from doing what is right. No more!” It’s high time we started doing the right thing in governance, in fighting terrorism, education, health, economy and all facets of our national life. Our leaders have set up all kinds of committees and they have come up with various recommendations but are never implemented for fear of those discoveries, we must rise up as a people and roar “NO MORE!”
Finally, I see Okoye, the superwoman demonstrated that love for the nation (a greater cause) supersedes love for an individual occupying the office. Ultimately, our allegiance is and must be to the nation, that is and will remain a greater cause, an individual is always a lesser cause because the nation is greater than an individual. Eventually, because birds of the same feather flock together, individuals who love the nation partner together to further the cause of the nation.
I will conclude with these thoughts by a Twitter user on the movie: While #BlackPanther is wonderful, I see it as a mockery and exploitation of what corruption has hindered us from achieving, sometimes a revelation of God’s big idea for Africa. It reveals the depth of what we should have been if we understood who we are.
Silas wrote via email@example.com