Kampala Geopolitics Conference

Black Panther Phenomenon: Rethinking Africa through Fiction and Arts

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Kenneth Kimuli (aka Pablo) opened the discussion with
praise for the film’s positive portrayal of Africa and its
celebration of women evidenced by the ruthless female
warriors. “The lead and the villain were black people.
Usually, black is associated with evil, for instance you
have blackmail, black spot etc., but not in Black Panther,”
he said, drawing laughter. Unlike long-held narratives of
Africa as a place of hunger, war, disease and illiteracy,
Pablo said the film depicts Africa as a place of peace
and development.
In a digression, Nana Kagga slammed the film as “a
bubblegum story that simply scratched the surface”.
She said Black Panther did not celebrate Afro-futurism
and an organic Africa, while the all-black cast actually
had only one African – Lupita Nyong’o – while the rest
are of African descent. The female warriors, Kagga
said, already existed in West Arica, just like vibranium.
“There’s nothing new.” She added that Black Panther
portrayed the continent as a single country, thus robbing
it of diversity. “Black Panther was a phenomenon but not
Africa’s phenomenon.”
Prof. Dominica Dipio disagreed with Kagga, and praised
the film for its Pan-African concept. She added that
Wakanda is a fictional place and the perception of
Africa as a country should not be taken out of context.
The professor emphasised that even if Black Panther is
not necessarily an African film, it indicates that finally,
Hollywood recognises Africa. “Fiction and magical realism
make you dream and envision possibilities.”
Sammy Wetala gave a political spin to his submission
by stating that in Wakanda, older people like Jabari,
who knew everything about the kingdom, did not try to
usurp power but instead guided the young and new ruler
Tchala. “Wakanda is fiction but the concept is real and
we can learn from it and use it to shape our future. The
old should be willing to give space and opportunity for
young leaders to take over. Rather than fight them, they
should guide them.”

Meet the Panelists