I’m absolutely delighted with Black Panther. But I’m not getting carried away with the gushing about Wakanda.
Look, there’s no way Nigeria and many African countries are going to turn into a Wakanda very soon. Not with reptiles and apes stashing away money.
By the way, that’s some real Snake In The Monkey’s Shadow stuff.
We’ve got real problems on the continent. And chances are after you leave the cinema, you are going back home to no electricity and no Wakanda.
But I’m not one to sour the milk. I get why Africans are rhapsodic about Black Panther and Wakanda.
Finally, something really good about Africa!
The Africa of proud warriors in ancestral savannahs.
An Africa that is not a pain in this the world’s ass.
A butt-kicking Africa.
I’m stoked myself. I can see myself prospering in a place like Wakanda selling Vibranium on the black market.
But no, it is not the idea of a super-advanced African country that fills me with hope, much as I’d love that.
Rather, I’m enthralled because, now, a predominantly African story could have a worldwide audience.
Imagine Universal Studios or 20th Century Fox making a movie on Pot of Life, The Bottled Leopard or D.O. Fagunwa’s Ogboju Ode Ninu Igbo Irunmale. For the good folks who aren’t Yoruba or never read the book, you might try reading Wole Soyinka’s magnificent translation of it, The Forest of A Thousand Daemons. The book is absolute genius.
Forest of A Thousand Daemons. Now, tell me how that title is not as enthralling as Fantastic Beasts and Where To Find Them!
Imagine Akara-Oogun and Kako Onikumo Ekun in Time Square in hot pursuit of Agbako.
Oh yeah, I’m fantasising now!
Imagine Hollywood bringing all its oomph and mastery to a Nigerian story. Imagine Ryan Coogler on a set in Umuahia.
Black Panther gives African storytelling and stories hope. All those nice folklores, myths and superstitions could possibly now make it to the big screen. We deserve that shot. We tell some mean stories around here.
But I’m not naive. Black Panther isn’t successful because it told a black African narrative. No. It is a commercial success because it is based on a Marvel super-hero character and part of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, a by-phrase for blockbusters these days. If it says Marvel on the tin, it rings the cash register.
But hey, dreams are good. It would be a most happy day when we see Morgan Freeman or Will Smith roasting an antelope or chanting incantations in the forests of Ondo.
Yeah, dreams are good.