Black Panther has been said to be the most anticipated movie release during Black History Month for more reasons than one.
One reason being that the director Ryan Coogler managed to incorporate everything in the film, from politics, world issues, romance, comedy and of course, Marvel. One topic that got the proper representation was the kidnapping by Boko Haram in 2014. Just over three years ago, 276 school girls were kidnapped by Boko Haram; an Islamic extremist group, in the Nigerian village, Chikbok. Based in northern Nigeria this group has been terrorizing the country since 2009. They have been responsible for the numerous massacres of civilians and abductions of women and little girls. This group strongly believes that western culture is “sinful” and wants to return the country to the pre colonial era of Muslim rule. Boko Haram was founded in 2002 by a Muslim cleric named Mohammed Yusuf after Nigeria’s transition from dictatorship to democracy in 1999.
One of the main reasons Boko Haram kidnapped these innocent school girls was because they wanted their captured members freed from Nigerian prison. In May 2014 after the kidnapping Boko’s group leader, Abubakar Shekau released a video showing about 130 school girls, stating that “the girls have converted to Islam and will not be released until Nigeria frees from prison all Boko Haram members.” After many failed attempts to negotiate, and only successfully getting back 20 girls, the Nigerian’s House of Representatives put out a motion urging the executive branch to expedite negotiations for the girl’s safe return which resulted in 82 more girls being released. This left them with a little over 100 girls that have been freed from captivity, however there is still 100 plus girls still waiting to come home.
“However the work is not yet done, too many families are still anxious today. Too many of our daughters have not returned,” Senate President Abubakar Bukola said in and statement.
In Black Panther, Lupita Nyong’o (Nakia), and Danai Gurira (Okoye) managed to bring this topic to life. Lupita’s character is undercover trying to liberate a group of women from the clutches of a paramilitary outfit that is reminiscent to Boko Haram. This is not the first time that the African blockbuster duo has teamed up to add their political voices to the art. In 2016, when the Gurira’s play ECLIPSED made it to Broadway, she tapped her friend Lupita to take the lead. The play was about African women forced to live with their African soldier oppressors during the Liberian Civil War. While the play was heavy enough, showcasing young girls ripped from their homes to serve as slaves, they took it a step further and after each show called out the name of one of the Boko Haram girls.
Black Panther was another tap on the international shoulder to not forget about the girls who some are still missing. More over it is also a tap to show that Africa is not just a continent of victims, but one of powerful resources sufficient to save the world.
In the film, Nyong’o’s character tries to convince T’Challa to use Wakanda’s resources to make life better for the less fortunate populations in Africa and beyond.
“We were creating an inspirational world where African people are in charge of their own destiny,” Lupita stated.
Director Ryan Coogler had the right idea by incorporating this topic among many others in the film. What better way to get the public’s full attention then to attach it to something that every one of all ages can understand. This film allowed viewers all over the world to get a better understanding of Wakanda, and Africa as a whole.
“This is a nation that is highly developed, and they are so because they didn’t get interrupted by or assaulted by colonialism.” – Lupita Nyong’o