Black Panther: Pan African Superhero?

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One of the problems with Black superheroes in Marvel and DC comics is that they may look Black, but very rarely do they reflect the experiences and struggles of Black people. This was a point that was made Kenneth Ghee who explained in Black Comics: Politics of Race and Representation that: “Historically in comic books and movies, the Black superhero operates in a totally Eurocentric (White) context; no Black family, no Black lover, no connection to community or culture…For him (and for us and our children) there is no Black consciousness or Black cause, only a generalized ‘humanitarian’ supportive role from a Eurocentric worldview and perspective.” Given that the Black Panther movie is set to be released next month, I would like to point out that one of the unique things about the Black Panther is that he is one Black superhero who has to confront many of the problems that Black people confront daily. The Black Panther doesn’t just live in Africa, he also lives many of the real problems that Africa has faced and continues to face. Black Panther comics are filled with themes of Western imperialism, colonialism, and neo-colonialism in Africa. These themes are especially prominent in the six episode cartoon series which was an adoption of Reginald Hudlin’s run of the comics.
In the comics Wakanda is the most technologically advanced country in the world because the people of Wakanda are able to utilize their country’s resources for their own benefit. Wakanda was the only African country never to be colonized or conquered, so it did not suffer through the ravages of the slave trade and colonialism which disrupted Africa’s development and, as Walter Rodney explained, underdeveloped Africa. Some have defended colonialism by arguing that colonization was a benefit to Africa because it introduced European technology, but this was not entirely the case. The technology that was introduced was utilized in the service of European domination in Africa. The vast majority of colonized Africans were exploited and impoverished, and they did not benefit from European technology in any significant way.

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Ethiopia was able to fend off the Italian invasion and under Menelik II’s rule Ethiopia made many technological advances, including establishing a railway, a postal service, and the country’s first hospital. This was because without European domination Ethiopia was free to adopt European technology and apply it in ways that were beneficial to their country, but the other colonized African nations did not have this benefit. Whereas Menelik was able to establish a hospital, in many colonies Africans were malnourished and given inadequate medical care. In Mozambique the Portuguese failed to train a single African doctor and Guinea-Bissau was even more neglected by the Portuguese colonialists than Mozambique was. Julius Nyerere, the first president of Tanzania, once explained that by the time Tanzania gained its independence the country only had 12 doctors. Wakanda presents us with a glimpse of where Africa could have been had it not been for colonialism, as well as a glimpse of where Africa could very well be with the proper leadership.
Comic book superheroes are typically people who decide to become superheroes due to personal tragedy or by obtaining superheroes, but the Black Panther is unique in that he has inherited his role as a superhero. T’Challa comes from a long dynasty of Black Panthers that have protected Wakanda for thousands of years. The Black Panther does fight the typical super villains that are found in comics, but what makes this character unique for people of African descent is that the Black Panther also fights a threat that Africans had to fight in real life, which is European colonization. For example, one story in Hudlin’s run depicts one of T’Challa’s ancestors defending his nation against an assault led by a European settler known as Klaue. In the story Klaue is a soldier who fought military campaigns in South Africa and has nothing but contempt for Africans, whom he views as uncivilized savages.

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T’Challa’s own story is rooted in Africa’s struggle against neo-colonial forces. T’Challa’s father, T’Chaka, was murdered for refusing to give up Wakanda’s most valuable resource, which is a fictional metal known as vibranium. In Hudlin’s retelling of the story, T’Chaka’s assassination was part of a plot that was carried out by various Western countries that were unable to talk T’Chaka into giving them his country’s resources. When they realized that T’Chaka could not be bought off, their next option was to simply kill him. This brings to mind the assassinations of Patrice Lumumba, Thomas Sankara, and other African leaders who were killed or overthrown by Western countries for refusing to serve the interests of those countries. T’Challa ascends to the throne and has to remain cautious about the fact that the very governments that assassinated his father would be plotting to do the same to him.
Aside from the Western governments that seek to undermine Wakanda to exploit its wealth, the Black Panther also has to confront African dictators such as M’Butu, who is one of the antagonists in the cartoon series. M’Butu is the dictator of a nation that borders Wakanda and he is depicted as being the opposite of T’Challa. M’Butu is greedy, self-serving, and is easily paid off like many of the dictators that continue to rule Africa today. M’Butu is also a close American ally and even agrees to participate in a plot to overthrow the Black Panther. Black Panther not only fights to protect his nation against European invaders, but against African traitors as well.
I am not sure how deeply the movie will delve into these themes. The anti-colonialist message found in the cartoon series and some of the comics was toned down when the Black Panther was introduced in Captain American: Civil War. In that movie T’Chaka’s assassination was part of a plot to frame the Winter Soldier rather than being an assassination that was carried out because T’Chaka refused to give up his country’s resources. Even if the anti-colonialist message is toned down, I still think the significance of the Black Panther movie is that it’s a movie that will challenge some of the ways Africa and African people are typically depicted in the mainstream media. It is also significant in that it has a message that is relevant to all people of African descent. For African Americans and others in the diaspora it is a reminder that there is more to our history that slavery, and for those on the African continent it is a reminder of the great potential that Africa has.

Article by Dwayne Omowale

Comic Book films-Black Heroes,White Wealth(Part 1 of 2)

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There’s been a lot of hype about the upcoming Black Panther film. The film is set to be released worldwide on February 16,2018. Which is convenient since February is Black History Month right?  Anyone who follows my blog knows I have mentioned I grew up reading comic books as a child.  I read a lot of DC and Marvel comic books.  I used to read Spider Man,Batman,Superman,The Hulk,X Men and The Fantastic Four. Over the years I have collected hundreds of comic books.  But I was always fascinated by the black comic book characters.  Some of my favorites were Storm,Black Lightning,Steel,Misty Knight and Luke Cage.  But my favorite was probably Black Panther. Panther first appeared in Fantastic Four issue #52 back in 1966.  That issue of Fantastic Four is selling for $400-$800 on the internet.  Although after the Panther film comes out I’m sure the price will skyrocket.  I always thought Black Panther was a cool character.  Panther’s birth name is T’Challa. T’Challa’s senses and physical attributes have been enhanced to superhuman levels by the heart-shaped herb.  T’Challa is a brilliant tactician, strategist, scientist, tracker and a master of all forms of unarmed combat whose unique hybrid fighting style incorporates acrobatics and aspects of animal mimicry. T’Challa being a royal descendent of a warrior race is also a master of armed combat, able to use a variety of weapons but prefers unarmed combat. He is a master planner who always thinks several steps ahead and will go to extreme measures to achieve his goals and protect the fictional kingdom of Wakanda.  Wakanda is not a real African country.  But it could just as well be Kenya,Nigeria,Tanzania or Ghana.  And this is one of my conerns about the film.  I have covered great African civilizations on this blog many times. Most of us know about The Mali empire as well as ancient Kemet(Egypt),Ghana and Kingdom of Kush. So why is Hollywood making films about fictional African empires when real ones exist?  Of course you know why right?

 

I will admit that the trailer looks really good.  The visuals are nice and it looks to be action packed.  I have watched the reaction from many black film goers on the internet.  I would say that 85% of the reaction has been positive.  And I can see why.  Talented actor Chadwick Boseman  plays the title character.  The cast has some pretty big names. The cast includes Angela Bassett,Forest Whitaker,Danai Gurira,Michael B. Jordan,Lupita Nyongo(my favorite),Daniel Kaluuya and Letitia Wright. It’s a majority black cast.  Even the director Ryan Coogler is a black man.  So is this a black film? It seems like it.  But of course the film is being made by Marvel Studios.  Marvel Studios was bought by the Walt Disney Company back in 2009 for 4.24 billion dollars. I did a post in the past about the wicked and racist Disney company.  The Disney president and CEO is a white man named Robert Iger.  So the Black Panther film is basically a Disney film with a black cast.

Black Superheroes..

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I have done many posts on racist Hollywood and their negative stereotypes. Many black people are excited about this film.  And it’s because we want to see ourselves in a positive light.  We want to see ourselves looking glorious and majestic.  We want to see black people as kings and queens on the big screen. Hollywood has given the masses films about Roman empires for years.  Films like Ben Hur,Julius Caesar,Spartacus and Gladiator.  Not to mention fictional films/tv shows like Lord of The Rings and Game of Thrones.  They give us hundreds of films showing them as powerful kings and queens.  Then when they want to show African royalty…we get a fictional country??  That is white supremacy at it’s best.  The film looks good but I know how Hollywood operates.  I will be looking for any type of anti-blackness in this film.  And I’m sure there will be some type of black degradation in it.  I wouldn’t be surprised if there’s some interracial love going on . Maybe they’ll slip in some lesbian/homosexual scene.  Or possibly showing African traitors in which to instill black people to not trust each other.  I could be wrong…but I doubt it.

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Wakanda is fictional but the Kingdom of Kush was real. Don’t get me wrong,I have nothing against fictional stories.  I grew up enjoying films and television shows like Star Trek and Star Wars.  I think they can be fun and entertaining.  I just think we have to be mindful who is getting our money when we pay for these films.  Black Panther looks like it will be a big blockbuster.  And I’m glad the mostly black cast is getting paid.  But the white owned Disney/Marvel company will be getting the majority of the money. We will be giving our money right back  to racist Hollywood.  They are just doing this film to throw black people a bone! But there are many black comic book artists and writers that could use our support.  That’s what I’ll address in part two.

 

Diana Flave

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This gorgeous beauty is Diana Flave.  She is a great representation of African beauty. She is also Miss Tanzania 2016.

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African Proverbs about Children and Parenting

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“Honor a child and it will honor you.” AFRICA

“A child who asks questions is not stupid.” GHANA

“It takes a whole village to raise a child.” NIGERIA

“Children talk with God.” BOTSWANA

“Let not your growing child hate you.” ETHIOPIA

“Work the clay while it is still wet.” TANZANIA

“Let your child shout but do not shout at it.” NORTH AFRICA

“Do not put fear into a child.” KENYA

“A stray chick is a target for birds of prey.” TANZANIA

“Children with a grandmother lack nothing.” KENYA

“The father is a shield for the family.” ETHIOPIA

“The one who beats children should not be entrusted with children.” UGANDA

“Plants vary according to the quality of the soil.” UGANDA

“A good home makes a good farm.” GHANA

“Family squabbles bring about family disintegration.” GHANA