On Saturday, the world woke up to the sad news of Chadwick Boseman’s death. The actor’s death touched many Africans because of his role in the movie Black Panther.
“I mean what kind of a lover will make you want to forget her, we watched Black Panther together, now we Wakanda forever…” Sho Madjozi sang.
It was her latest single and she had noted that this particular performance was special: “This is the first time I’m doing this song on stage, I chose to do this at the biggest party in Africa.”
That was the 2018 Nyege Nyege Music Festival, then Sho Madjozi was known for her chart-topping single “Huku”, but to get the audience paying attention to the new song, “Wakanda Forever”, she started by asking if there were some Black Panther fans in the audience.
And just like that, they were sold, she ended up performing “Wakanda Forever” twice.
Nyege Nyege for the past few years has become a meeting point for different Africans that love to express themselves, so it wasn’t surprising people who loved “Black Panther” were there in big numbers.
Think about it this way, the film had been set up for greatness even before it was shot – then, the “Black Panther” character had been introduced in Marvel’s film Captain America: Civil War. Then, the king of Wakanda was played by South African actor John Kani, with Chadwick Boseman portraying the Prince of Wakanda.
According to Kani, in a scene the two had to do together, Boseman had asked him to speak to him in one of the South African dialect because there would be no need for a father to speak to his son in English – and like that, without intending, the two set up Xhosa as the official language for the fictional state that was Wakanda.
Like that, the continent fell in love with the project – an American film that did not just depict Africans but had the language. For Ugandans, it took the casting of Ugandan/German actress Florence Kasumba and English actor, also of Ugandan origin, Daniel Kaluuya.
We cannot miss out the fact that a few aerial views of Lake Bunyonyi and Mountain Rwenzori made it to the theatrical release.
On Saturday morning, Uganda, like the rest of the world learnt about the death of Boseman.
According to his representatives, Boseman had been battling Colon cancer since 2016 and between that time, he has impressed with films 21 Bridges, Marshal, Black Panther, Infinity Wars and End Game, among others.
Much as the actor had inspired different people, thanks for such roles where he portrayed iconic figures such as singer James Brown in Get on Up, baseball player Jackie Robinson in 42 and lawyer Thurgood Marshall in Marshall, with Black Panther, he made many believe when he portrayed T’Challa, an African superhero.
“I tried watching the film in the first week in vain,” says Patience Ahimbisibwe.
A film enthusiast, she confesses superhero flicks are not her type, but she had bought into the prior marketing of the film and of course, the pictures of Kaluuya attending the world premiere in a Ganda tunic.
Ahimbisibwe later watched the film and confesses she could not explain how the film made her feel but was sure that is one of the ways she fancies Hollywood portraying Africa or African Americans.
“It was one of those films where an African nation was not in the middle of a crisis or poor and in need of a White saviour,” she says, adding that she watched the film twice, the second time she carried her family along.
The film was a hit among other people because of the father and son relationship portrayed on screen, Aembrozia Byaruhanga, wrote.
“I am sad that Chadwick Boseman has passed on. I watched him in Black Panther, I ensured I watched it in the cinema and not a pirate copy to cheat the actors,” he said and went on – “I loved Black Panther because it spoke about the father and son relationships. The world is suffering because of fatherlessness. The actor had a good relationship with his father including hugging him (few African sons can comfortably hug their fathers and talk), while the other, Killmonger was a result of rejection.”
While many people have talked about knowing the film from their sons: “My son came home after visiting his aunt and he wanted a Black Panther customised bag,” says Peter Mukisa, a father of three. He confesses that at that time, he did not know so much about Black Panther.
Talking cinema, Akram Juuko of Century Cinemax says they have not had a film with a cinematic cultural impact like Black Panther.
“It was that film with the biggest number of first time cinema goers, some didn’t even know the full title but knew the film was black something,” he says.
He also notes it was the first film he noticed audiences dressed up for, some would show up in kitenge attires while others wanted to mimic certain characters.
“We decided to print Black Panther T-shirts which we sold at Shs50,000 and people bought them.”
Juuko says, one of the things that made the film standout was the fact that for the first time, people saw a superhero that looked like them but above it all, from an African country packaged both with culture and language.