Monday, February 19, 2018

Various African Cultural Elements That Are Found In The 2018 Fictional Black Panther Movie (with Black Panther trailer video)

Edited by Azizi Powell

Latest Update: August 4, 2018

This is Part II of a three part pancocojams series on the 2018 Black Panther American movie.

This post showcases the official trailer for the 2018 Black PantherAmerican movie video and quotes excerpts from five online articles that highlight various African cultural elements that are found in that movie.

Click for Part I of this series. Part I presents information about the 2018 American movie Black Panther and suggest possible es origins and meanings for the names of various characters from that Marvel comic book series and that movie.

Click for Part III of this series provides selected comments from a YouTube discussion thread about reactions to the 2018 Black Panther movie from Africans and from people from the African diaspora.

The content of this post is presented for cultural, entertainment, and aesthetic purposes.

All copyrights remain with their owners.

Thanks to all those who have created, developed, written, and drawn the comic book series Black Panther character. Thanks also to all those who are associated with the 2018 Black Panther movie. Thanks also to all others who are quoted in this post and thanks to the publisher of this video on YouTube.

SHOWCASE VIDEO: Marvel Studios' Black Panther - Official Trailer

Marvel Entertainment, Published on Oct 16, 2017

Long live the king. Watch the new trailer for Marvel Studios #BlackPanther. In theaters February 16! ► Subscribe to Marvel:

From By Zeba Blay; 02/16/2018 04:38 pm ET Updated, 2/17/2018
From Zamunda To Wakanda: How ‘Black Panther’ Reimagined African Style
“Black Panther” is very much a mix of regional, ethnic and cultural customs. And that’s part of what makes it so brilliant.
..."aesthetically, “Black Panther” is very much a hodgepodge, a juxtaposition, a mix of regional, ethnic and cultural customs. And that’s part of what makes it so brilliant.

Costume designer Ruth E. Carter, in collaboration with production designer Hannah Beachler, created a “Wakandan Bible” early on in production, a tome that set the standard for “Black Panther” and the inhabitants of its world ― from the Dora Milaje, King T’Challa’s personal body guard, to the Jabari, a clan that lives in the mountains of Wakanda.

[Before the shoot], I had already been gathering information about the Maasai tribe, and I fell in love with the Dogon,” Carter told HuffPost. “The real Dogon tribe lived in the mountainous area in Africa and they were one of the first astronomers and they studied the stars and they performed a ritual every year where they created these amazing masks that shot up to the heavens. They were carved out of wood and they would adorn their bodies with these raffia skirts and brilliant colors. They were the inspiration for the Jabari tribe.”

Elsewhere in the film, Carter incorporated the traditional painted robes of the Ndebele people of South Africa in the blankets (which are actually shields) worn by Wakanda’s border tribe.

There’s one scene in the movie, in which King T’Challa (Chadwick Boseman), finds himself on the ancestral plane speaking with his dead father. T’Challa wears a tunic with an elaborately embroidered collar, reminiscent of those worn by Yoruba men in Nigeria. When his father appears to him, he is wrapped in traditional cloth in the style that many Ghanaian men do ― indeed the fabric itself is covered in Ghanaian Adinkra symbols for “strength.”

There are many aesthetic moments like this in “Black Panther,” many instances of cultural anachronisms that, somehow, work on another level. There is a flurry of various forms of traditional African attire, from vastly differing parts of the continent. It is, in some ways, nonsensical. In other, more important ways, it makes all the sense in the world. Wakanda is not real in the physical sense, but it is a spiritual ideal, a world representing what the diaspora is and could be if given the chance.

For Carter, the blending of cultures in the film isn’t necessarily about disregarding the significance of the clothes on display.

“Looking at it with modern eyes, it’s OK to pay homage to culture and tradition, but we weren’t trying to make a documentary,” she says. “We wanted to honor it in this futuristic way and a lot of the details of the indigenous African tribes easily translate into a futuristic model.”...

(CNN) Wakanda is a lushly futuristic, equatorial enclave. A journey into Wakanda: How we made Black Panther
By Chris Giles, CNN; Updated 11:52 AM ET, Fri February 16, 2018
..."The production of Marvel's "Black Panther" (US release February 16) is a remarkable feat. It's a thrilling and refreshing spectacle on the big screen, capturing traditional African influences in a hypermodern context.


It is a huge technical and creative undertaking for those working behind the scenes. The production, costume, jewelry and other designers and stylists are creating a whole new world -- one where nature and technology are intertwined.


'Black Panther' fast facts 00:28
The film also bears with it an important responsibility on the designers and director that the images and representations of an African nation -- in a continent often lazily portrayed in the West -- are inspired by African groups.

A large part of the research process was traveling to Africa.
The team traveled up the coast of South Africa in KwaZulu-Natal, into the countryside and via urban districts.

Production designer Hannah Beachler. "When I came back we reworked everything. There was a lot achieved because of my experience of being able to able to touch and feel and be there and see. I had a better perspective," Beachler says.
"It's a lot about taking the ideas that people have about what it is to live in Africa and what it is to be African and retelling that story, reclaiming it I guess, and having this clarification," Beachler said.

This story is also seen in what Wakandans wear, a mesh of traditional and hi-tech Afropunk influences.


Roadmapping African influences
Ruth E. Carter [Black Panther movie’s costume designer]
"There were at least 10 different tribes that we gathered costume inspiration from, because Wakanda is a fictitious land in the Northern Central part of Africa, and it's imagined as a place that was never colonized.
"We could create something that honored African history, African-American history and also would be a new-found culture that would be unique to Wakanda," Carter said.

Carter instructed a team of over 100 buyers. This was no small undertaking, especially for Carter's first shot at a Marvel movie.

She visited Africa and drew influence from ancient tribes to establish the Wakandan people's unique characteristics.
"They wear things more avant-garde. Their hair is natural. They're sometimes barefoot. I would say the Afrofuturistic model is the one characteristic that goes throughout the Wakandan community," Carter says.
Carter was particularly inspired by the Dogon people of West Africa.
"They were a big inspiration for me because they were like astronomers and they lived in this mountainous area of Africa," Carter said.

Other tribes of sartorial inspiration were the Turkana people in East Africa, Hemba people in Congo, Suri tribe in Ethiopia and Tuareg people in western and northern Africa, among others.

However, Carter emboldened these costume designers with edgy, high-tech touches.

Carter said it was important to show this royal African family in a futuristic model."...

From "Black Panther has some impressive superpowers—solving cultural appropriation isn’t one of them"
written by Lynsey Chutel; June 12, 2017
....“It’s a third world country: textiles, shepherds, cool outfits,” is how Martin Freeman’s character Everett K. Ross describes Wakanda. In the film, it’s the image Wakanda has put forth in order to protect itself and in real life, it’s what most audiences may think of when thinking about Africa in film and television—the “Coming to America” trope still firmly in place.

Behind a mighty waterfall that resembles Victoria Falls (Mosi-oa-Tunya as it is known locally), is an Eldorado of technology and innovation known as Wakanda.


The film was mostly shot in a studio in Atlanta, Georgia, the falls are actually shots of Iguazu Falls in Argentina and the skyscrapers are all CGI. And in Africa we generally refer to our panthers as leopards. Still, it’s an indulgent fantasy of what Africa could be, but also what may have been without colonial interference. It’s a reminder that the film is not a meditation on culture, but rather a comic book fantasy that is perhaps inspired by Afrofuturism.


The city T’Challa returns to has walls painted in the geometric patterns that resemble those of Ndebele culture in South Africa. Lupita Nyong’o is seen in what looks like a wax print dress as she stalks through one scene. In another, T’Challa’s mother, played by a white-haired Angela Basset, is wrapped in a Seanamarena blanket, a large part of Lesotho’s cultural heritage. The scene causing the most debate so far is that of a tribal elder in a tailored suit, with a large lip disc.

What’s significant about this aesthetic is not the question it raises about the roots of lip plates and body stretching in African culture, but rather the blending of the modern and traditional. It’s something that happens every day on the streets of Africa’s cities, with sneakers and suits in bold, bright wax prints, beaded jewelry adorning everyday wear, and even the Seanamarena blanket cut into this season’s bomber jacket trend. These trends are borrowed between different cultures as social media breaks down borders and encourages collaboration.

There are questions on whether African Americans should be borrowing from continental culture…
What’s more, this raises questions on appropriation among Africans, whether acknowledging the specific origins of the design should be enough, or whether, for example, Ghana should be acknowledged in every graphic that resembles Kente.

These are not questions the Black Panther film is going to answer, and it isn’t supposed to—that’s what the debate around appropriation misses. In a similar way to young, connected Africans, the film borrows here and there from a blended African culture. One can only hope that the film will acknowledge the origins of these elements and avoid appropriation."...

[Pancocojams Editor's Note: Notice that this article refers to another Marvel comic movie in which T'Challa, the Black Panther character appeared.]

From by Gregory Wakeman, 2016 [the date stamp says "1 year ago" but the comments in the discussion thread say "2 years"]
"Captain America: Civil War isn’t just reuniting us with most of the Avengers. It’s also introducing us to two new superheroes. While we’ve revelled in the web-slinging exploits of a certain Peter Parker for quite a few films now, Chadwick Boseman’s T’Challa/Black Panther is making his big-screen debut in the blockbuster. This means that movie audiences are now devouring every bit of information they can about Black Panther, which now includes the fact that his native language in Civil War and the rest of the Marvel Cinematic Universe is Xhosa.

While Chadwick Boseman’s superhero actually spends most of Captain America: Civil War speaking English to the other English-speakers, there are one or two scenes that sees T’Challa talking to his father T’Chaka, played by John Kani, in a native Wakanda language. Co-director Joe Russo has now confirmed to Entertainment Weekly that they chose Xhosa for his language, admitting that John Kani actually taught Chadwick Boseman how to speak it.
The language we used for Wakandan is called Xhosa. John Kani, the actor who plays T’Challa’s father in the movie, speaks the language and taught it to Chadwick. It’s spoken by 7.6 million people in South Africa

The decision for Black Panther to speak Xhosa was quite a big one not just for Captain America: Civil War, but for the rest of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, too. That’s because we’re almost certainly going to see T’Challa and his alter ego frequently uttering the language in his own solo film. It would just be weird if he didn't.

Xhosa is known as "the clicking language," as in order to properly pronounce its x’s, you have to put your tongue to the roof of your mouth and then make a clicking noise, which closely resembles the sound of a horse trotting. One of the official languages of South Africa, it is spoken by around 18% of the country’s population, while Nelson Mandela spoke it fluently."...
Here are two examples of those comments from that article's discussion thread:
Stan Philip Samuel [2 years ago] 2016?
They picked the wrong language unfortunately. Xhosa is only spoken in South Africa. Wakanda has been geographically placed in Equatorial Africa near Kenya, Uganda and Ethiopia (as seen in Iron Man 2). Maybe Swahili would have been a more appropriate selection. Leaving South African and African audiences confused at the lack of appreciation of our language spread. I guess they took the easy route and used it because John Kani knew the language, still does not make it right though. Oh well, it's a fictional world right?

"MH Eingoluq, [2 years ago] 2016?
"It really just felt odd to me as a choice. I mean, John Kani is South African and speaks Xhosa, but as far as I know Chadwick Boseman doesn't and he's going to be starring in an entire film set* in Wakanda. So it's not obvious to me why they couldn't just pick a language from that general area.

*I mean, I haven't seen it or anything and plenty of Black Panther stories, including some of the best ones, are set outside Wakanda. But if the casting is 90% black people, which is awesome, it seems awfully likely that that's where it's going to be set."
Click "Black Panther' puts spotlight on Xhosa, a real African language spoken by Nelson Mandela"
By JAMES LONGMANANGUS HINES; Feb 16, 2018, 12:10 PM ET for an article about the inclusion of Xhosa in Black Panther.

Also, here's a celebratory comment from a South African in a February 18, 2018 discussion thread from a YouTube video on this subject:
From Black Panther' puts spotlight on Xhosa, a real African language spoken by Nelson Mandela by news usa, Published on Feb 16, 2018
Alice Gauteng, February 18, 2018
"As a South African I was proud hearing Xhosa spoken in the movie. And tbey also wear Badotho blankets.
Coolest thing ever!

Excerpt #5
From Black Panther wins the hearts of African cinema fans; Daniel Mumbere 17/02 - 13:10
"Africans can’t get enough of the first Marvel superhero movie with a predominantly black cast.

Black Panther has received rave reviews from critics and cinema goers who have flocked to its’s premieres in Nigeria, Uganda and South Africa among others.

Some of the cast actually flew down to South Africa for the premiere, with Kenyan born actress Lupita Nyong’o, tweeting that ‘the excitement is spellbinding’.

'The people who made the film were very specific about the references they used in relationship to Africa. They are pulling from the best fashion and art.'

Black panther is set in the fictional African nation of Wakanda. It tells the story of the new king, T‘Challa/Black Panther (Chadwick Boseman), who is challenged by rival factions.

The fictional African country is depicted as a verdant land with stunning waterfalls where spacecraft designed like tribal masks soar over a modern metropolis.

Directed by black director Ryan Coogler and featuring actors including Michael B. Jordan, Angela Bassett, Lupita Nyong‘o and Forest Whittaker, the film has received widespread critical acclaim after years of criticism about the under-representation of black people in Hollywood.


Ugandans claim Wakanda
Ugandans who have two actors with roots in the East African country featured in Black Panther, Daniel Kaluuya and Florence Kasumba, have been showing why Wakanda is actually Uganda.

Chazzy Chaz
When u watch Black Panther...look out for location on globe..Its not a coincidence Wakanda rhymes with Uganda and our guy is called O"Wakabi" and u see Murchison falls and rift valleys and impenetrable forests and mountains of the moon! Come vacation in Wakanda/Uganda. …

3:12 AM - Feb 16, 2018

Asiimwe Jolly
The young one of a Uganda is a Wakanda....after all Wakanda is a fictional East African nation bordering Uganda, might as well be our baby. πŸ˜„πŸ˜‹ #BlackPanther #WakandaCameToSlay

5:06 AM - Feb 17, 2018

Janelle Villadiego
"As it turns out, the filmmakers, prod. designers, & costumers of Marvel’s #BlackPanther imagined Wakanda as an amalgamation of real African nations, economies, & cultures, including Nigeria, Kenya, Uganda, South Africa, & the Congo."πŸ‡³πŸ‡¬πŸ‡°πŸ‡ͺπŸ‡ΊπŸ‡¬πŸ‡ΏπŸ‡¦πŸ‡¨πŸ‡©πŸ‘ …

6:50 AM - Feb 14, 2018"...

Excerpt 6:
Behind 'Black Panther': The hidden meanings of those stunning Wakanda costumes
by Gwynne Watkins, February 24, 2018

[quotes from an interview with Black Panther movie costume designer Ruth Carter]
..."the Dogon tribe were the first astronomers. They do a ceremony once a year where they adorn themselves in these brilliant raffia skirts and wood-carving masks that shoot up to the stars — they’re really tall. And they do these moves that sweep the earth. I was fascinated by that. So Ryan wanted the Jabari to wear grass skirts during battle, and the Dogon was the perfect place to start with the inspiration. We used the wood carving design for the armor for the Jabari. So when we see Winston Duke (as M’Baku), he really is representing the Dogon tribe of ancient Africa....

And then the Dora Milaje were inspired by many indigenous tribes of Africa. The color was the brilliant red of the Maasai. When you see these pictures of them with their beadwork, you see this red that is just so prominent and so strong, and really beautiful with these bald heads, and they stack beads, and it’s just phenomenal. So I upped the color of the design to be a much more brilliant red so they could have this part of Africa that was undeniable in its brilliance and in its color. Also their neck rings were inspired by the Ndbele tribe of South Africa....

[in reference to the various tribes of Wakanda] the Merchant Tribe representing the Tuareg, the River Tribe representing the Surma and the Kongo, the Mining Tribe representing the Himba...

And I wanted to apply the art of the tribes to their costumes. For example, silver is a precious metal for the Tuareg, and that fit within the Wakandan ideology of vibranium, because vibranium is also silver. So I combined the silver from the Tuareg look with that aubergine-baby blue kind of mixture for the Merchant Tribe of Wakanda.

The same goes for the River Tribe. The cowry shell was a form of commerce [in West Africa], it was how they traded. And so I used a lot of the cowry shell on Lupita’s costume, and a lot of beads and shells because she represented the river and the water and the grass."...

Excerpt #7:


Feb 17 [2018]
Thread on African tribes/cultures featured in #BlackPanther. #Wakanda
This thread includes a number of references to the influence on the Black Panther movie of various African ethnic groups which have already been mentioned in this pancocojams post. However, here are some tweets about additional ethnic groups or aspects from various ethnic groups that Waris highlighted that haven't been mentioned thus far in this post [I've given numbers to these tweets as they are given here for referencing purposes only.]

Feb 17
Zulu headdress. Queen Ramonda wears a distinct headdress. It's reminiscent of the reed Zulu flared hats or "Isicholos." The Zulu headdresses are traditionally worn by married women for ceremonial celebrations.


Feb 17
Igbo Mask. In one scene Erik Killmonger wears a mask. The masks, known as Mgbedike, are distinguished by the large size and bold masculine features. They are used in Igbo rituals and are designed to contrast the female dancers with their more feminine beauty. #BlackPanther


Feb 17
Ndebele Neck Rings. Shuri and the Dora Milaje have outfits with a prominent collar. The South Ndebele peoples of Zimbabwe/South Africa wear neck rings as part of their traditional dress and as a sign of wealth and status. #BlackPanther #Wakanda


Feb 17
Many of the costumes have a distinctive red earthy tone. This was done by studying the colors used by the Himba people of north-western Namibia. Himba people are known for applying a red ochre paste, known as "otjize", to their skin and hair. #BlackPanther #Wakanda


Feb 17
Forest Whittaker plays shaman Zuri who's the spiritual leader of Wakanda. He wears ornate flowing robes known as an Agbada. It's one of the names for a flowing wide-sleeved robe worn by men/women in much of West Africa, and North Africa. #BlackPanther #Wakanda


Feb 17
Tuareg scarfs. Several characters in the film wear large scarves covering their head and face. These are similar to the ones worn by the Tuareg people. The Tuareg people inhabit an area in North and West Africa. #BlackPanther #Wakanda


Feb 17
Replying to @diasporicblues
T'Challa's Kente scarf. Kente, known as nwentom in Akan, is a type of silk and cotton fabric made of interwoven cloth strips and is native to the Akan people of Ghana. #BlackPanther #Wakanda
Here's a tweet in that discussion thread from another blogger:

Feb 17
Replying to @diasporicblues
Michael B is also wearing a Zulu lion claw necklace normally worn by Zulu Kings. ^^Google Shaka Zulu for pics.
"Michael B [Jordan] plays the character Erik Killmonger in this 2018 Black Panther movie.
ADDED August 4, 2018
An additional African element in the Black Panther movie is the snippet from the popular South African 2016 dance song "Wololo" by Babes Wodumo ft Mampintsha - Wololo was played at the beginning of the scene when T'Challa, accompanied by some members of the Dora Milaje, enters his sister Shuri's lab. The August 2018 pancocojams post provides includes a video and comments about that scene.

Thanks for visiting pancocojams.

Visitor comments are welcome.


  1. In addition to the African cultural elements that are mentioned in these articles about the 2018 Black Panther movie, I also noticed these cultural elements:
    1. facial make up (white dots, lines etc) worn by various women

    2. body scarification (example: Erik Killmonger)

    3. female tied head wraps (geles)

    4. African handshake

    (These types of handshakes are well known among African Americans, but do they have an African source or African sources?)

    5. female natural hairstyles, including braids with ornaments

    6. females with bald heads

    (Until quite recently, having a bald head was the custom for Maasai women, Samburi women, and for women in quite a number of other ethnic groups throughout Africa).

    7. The characters have traditional African, Arabic, and/or "African sounding" names

    (Click ttp:// for the pancocojams post entitled "Traditional African Languages, Arabic Languages, & Other Sources For Names In The 2018 Black Panther Movie".)

    Please add to this list if you can think of other examples of African cultural elements in the Black Panther movie.

  2. Here are three comments from the discussion thread of Nigerian woman's vblog about the Black Panther movie: Black Panther Had Me ALL the Way in My Feelings 😭 #WAKANDAFOREVER, published by Ijeoma Kola, Published on Feb 19, 2018

    Andrew McMillan, Feb. 23, 2018
    "The Panther god Bast is an Egyptian god, so there was some North African influence."

    Ijeoma Kola, February 24, 2018
    "Good to know!"

    tmurray0306, Februar y26, 2018
    "Actually Bast isn’t only an Egyptian god but a Nilotic god. She was worshipped by the Egyptians, the Nubians, the Kerma population group as welll as the citizens of the land known as Ta Seti. All of these cultures that thrived along the Nile river are referred to as “Nilotic civilizations."