Marvel Studios really hit it big with Black Panther; from the amazing cast to the directing, compelling storyline, and production. It is one of the best superhero movies out so far. It’s no wonder why it has made over $700 million dollars in just three weeks after its release.
Having spent close to a month in Africa writing the script, director Ryan Coogler really came through in bringing the African out of Black Panther. There were so many cultural references that Africans and African-Americans alike could all relate to in the movie – especially we Nigerians.
If you’ve already watched the movie, then read on (or watch the video above) to see 6 Nigerian references that you may have missed in the Black Panther movie and if you haven’t watched the movie, click here instead to check out the things you need to know about Black Panther (characters, powers, myths, origin, etc).
When T’Challa went to bring Nakia home to witness his coronation, him and the leader of his private army, Okoye, went to rescue her from Sambisa forest. The scene went on to show the Black Panther kicking some serious Boko Haram butt before realising that Nakia was on a mission of her own – rescuing some Chibok girls and other abductees by the terrorist group. It was clearly a nod to what is happening in Nigeria.
The official spoken language in Wakanda is ‘Xhosa,’ which is native to South Africa. Now although Ryan Coogler and the writers created the written language of Wakanda, they drew heavy inspiration from ‘Nsibidi,’ which is native to south-eastern Nigeria.
It’s an extinct language, which our ancestors used to communicate in around 5000 BC. The language is more specific to Efik, Ibibio, and Igbo people. In Black Panther, the language can be found on the walls, throne, the lab, inner lips of Wakandans, and other places.
Mask in the Museum
During the scene where Killmonger was first introduced, he was seen in a museum of African arts and history. One of the masks he asked the museum attendant to explain to him was of Benin, Edo origin. The mask was a direct replica of one of the great bronze masks that the Edos are known for in history. And it actually fits the narrative also, since many of the oldest bronze works of art have been linked to Benin.
At the first Warrior falls scene– before T’Challa fought M’Baku, we were introduced to the other tribes in Wakanda. There was the Border, River, Merchant, Panther, Jabari, and the spiritual leaders. One missable detail was the clothing the Merchant tribe wore. The inspiration for their clothing came from cloths native to Hausa/Fulani in the North.
Kudos to costume designer, Ruth E. Carter, for her amazing work in bringing so many different cultural attires from different parts of Africa to make this movie colourful, great, and just seeped in rich cultural history.
T’Challa’s Traditional cloth
After his coronation, when T’Challa went to meet his sister, Shuri in her lab to see what new technology her brilliance had developed, King T’Challa was seen wearing a traditional attire inspired by western Nigeria; mainly Yorubas. Really, all that was left was for him to wear the agbada and he would have no doubt had the typical “Yoruba demon” look.
M’Baku’s manner of speaking
By far everyone’s favourite character in the movie. M’Baku gave us a dose of comedy that the movie might have otherwise lacked. His manner of speaking had this serious Igbo vibe. His speech just before fighting T’Challa at the Warrior Falls was one of note, with the way he spoke saying things like, “we will not have it. We will not have it o!”
That was like a reminder to when Prof. Orubebe gave a speech similar to that and disrupted the counting of the votes during the 2015 elections. In fact, the scene in Black Panther and what happened during the counting process were quite similar in many ways.
It feels good to notice how much of Nigeria was infused into a movie as grand as Black Panther, and even more awesome that Ryan Coogler (knowingly or unknowingly) drew from the major tribes in Nigeria to make sure none felt left out.
So there you have it, those are the five references I noticed in Black Panther. Are there other references you also noticed that aren’t on the list, please do let us know in the comment section below