Speculative fiction is a genre that explores settings other than those that exist in the real world. The genre can encompass supernatural or futuristic works. Africanfuturism is a subgenre of speculative fiction centred on the African people, their culture, history, and technology.
To explore Africanfuturism, dissecting one of the works that have grabbed global attention in the past year is important. Black Panther: Wakanda Forever is an American superhero film produced in 2022 based on Marvel Comics. It is centred around the fictional super nation of Wakanda, which is located somewhere on the African continent. The people of Wakanda have for years developed technology using a super rare metal that makes them unbeatable. The film is set in the era after King T’challa’s demise, and they are fighting to protect their kingdom against new enemies.
In the film, African culture is depicted in how the people talk, walk, and dress. The people of Wakanda have distinct clothing that is inherently theirs and differs from the modern garb of the Western world and even that of the water people. The people of Wakanda also have sacred ways of honouring their dearly departed. They celebrate by wearing white attire and dancing with singing and drum beats. They are also identified by the unique markings they use to write and mark their bodies. The mourning period is also marked by the burning of items that symbolise the meaning of the departed person to release their spirit to the next world.
African mythology and history are also highlighted in how they educate their young. It is mentioned that they use storytelling to pass on knowledge from generation to generation. These stories create the identity of the people. Generational knowledge and belonging are also shown in how they name the descendants. Even though King T’challa’s son is growing up in a foreign land, he embodies his father and wears his name.
As in most African societies in the past and present, The Wakanda people have a system regarding how they choose their leaders and hold on to power. The Wakanda people have a ruling family, and power is passed on among them. Decision-making is done among council members who represent the different sections of the kingdom. When there is a disruption to the peace, The Wakanda people protect themselves fiercely by using weapons made of vibranium. These weapons are superior, and the technology is envied by other nations who wish to steal or collaborate with the African nation. The spears and suits are mighty, and the ships on the water and in the air are like nothing the world has seen.
Besides making a massive commercial impression, Wakanda Forever is a landmark in how African culture is represented in mainstream movies. Wakanda forever pushes the boundaries of storytelling that will inspire not only the representation of black people in Hollywood but our artistic expression of the African continent.