Black Panther shows it is time to open the door for new African heroes and heroines

By Bolaji Ajayi, Author of Akiti The Hunter

‘Black Panther’, the new motion picture about an African King with superpowers, begins and ends in Oakland, California, the hometown of ‘Akiti The Hunter’ author Bolaji Ajayi. The story is similar to her own superhero, Akiti, an African Prince with superpowers (see video) who uses them to save his land and claim dominance in a world filled with antagonists and those who seek to claim the crown for their own.

While the story of the Black Panther is not new to avid comic book readers by any stretch of the imagination, the concept of an African superhero gaining such mainstream success while incorporating traditional African culture is. Let’s face it; Hollywood has been dominated by stories of European and American dominance since its conception.  The rich history of Africa has long been exploited by Hollywood for riches and fame not destined to the African or African-American community. One only has to look at Elizabeth Taylor’s portrayal of the Egyptian Queen ‘Cleopatra’ in 1963 for evidence of an African culture and identity being stolen and sold to masses for evidence of this. Or how about the constant bombardment of slavery tales such as ’12 years a slave’, ‘The Butler’, ‘Glory’, “Django Unchained’, ‘Amistad’, and so many others that tells a one-sided tale of European superiority and African inferiority if you truly want to see the vision planted in African-American children’s minds for decades. With the success of Black Panther, a movie with an all-black cast that promotes the story of African royalty, intelligence, egalitarian culture, and strength, might Hollywood be ready to reveal the true identity of African magnificence?

The massive success of Black Panther can and should open the door for new African heroes and heroines to be as well received and loved as more traditional American superheroes such as Superman, Batman, Captain America, etc. Ryan Coogler ability to effortlessly and swiftly reveal another side of the African story, while maintaining the traditional culture of Africa is inspiring. However, there is another narrative being written that is very subtle, but can change the course of history, as we know. Ryan Coogler, the director of Black Panther is an African-American from Oakland. He has brought the motherland to the forefront of American entertainment, and for the time being, promoted the reconnection of African-Americans to their roots in Africa.

WizKid – Come Closer ft. Drake:

In music, Nigerian artists such as Davido, Tekno, and WizKid have been reaching across the Atlantic to work with American artists to make some of the most recent top charting hits in music as of recent, most notably hip-hop artists like Drake. The soundtrack for ‘Black Panther’ was directed by top charting Compton, CA hip-hop artist Kendrick Lamar. In business, a new company, the Silicon Valley Nigerian Economic Development Initiative (SV-NED) is hosting an immersion programme in April 2018 to bring Nigerian investors and intellects to the table with prominent Silicon Valley companies in an effort to expand business between the US and Africa in the technology sector.

This is a blaring signal that a new reconnection between Africa and the African Diaspora that is African-Americans can possibly yield financial and cultural gains that have not been seen since before the African slave trade is emerging. This is why it is important that ‘Black Panther’ does not become the only successful African film. We need more African superheroes such as Akiti The Hunter to push this revolution. We need the natives of Africa such as Nigerian-born Bolaji Ajayis of the world, and the African-American innovators such as Ryan Coogler to show themselves and tell the African perspective of the African culture, unbiased by European American perspectives.  We need more independent African-Americans to achieve the same success and support on many different platforms so that the slavery mentality and inferiority complex can finally be erased from the minds of African-American children, only to be replaced with the rich history of the motherland Africa, as it should be.

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