What They Don't Want You To Know About Wakanda

"WAKANDA FOREVER!" is what many people are now saying since the Marvel movie Black Panther came to theaters. Wakanda, of course, is the fictional East African country that is heavily mentioned and is the home to the Black Panther, also known as T’Challa, king of the Wakandan people.

Right? No, WRONG! It has a lot of untold truth in the movie that many African Americans need to know.

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Wakanda may not be where you think it is, at least when it comes to its history, and its forgotten religious roots tell a tale with as many twists and turns as any comic book.

Back several generations, before Stan Lee and Jack Kirby of Marvel applied the term to a hidden kingdom of scientist-warriors whose technological capabilities make it the most advanced civilization on the planet in 1966, the term was applied to a hidden kingdom of scientist-warriors whose technological capabilities make it the most advanced civilization on the planet. The nativity of Wakanda is intriguing, as it implies that the hypothetical land's name was not originally African, but rather American.

Wakanda was (and still is) a term for God among Plains Indian peoples such as the Omaha, Kansa, Ponka, Osage, and others. And, like Wakanda in "Black Panther," this was a divinity whose strength was inextricably linked to its secrecy. In 1894, the Bureau of American Ethnology stated:

“The ancestors of the Omaha and Ponka believed that there was a Supreme Being, whom they called Wakanda. They did not know where He was, nor did they undertake to say how He existed … Wakanda means ‘the mysterious’ …”
Wakanda was also more than that. It was both a source and a destination, recorded as Wah'Kon'Tah in certain sources. It was both a source and a destination: a place from where all goodness emerged and to which all wanted to travel.

Wakonda is the Osage, Omaha, and Ponca tribes' great Creator power. Wakonda is an amorphous, all-pervasive creative force that is never personified in ancient Siouan stories, and didn't even have a gender before the introduction of gender-specific pronouns in English. Wakanda was known to as Grandmother or Grandfather by some Indigenous people.

The titular person was presented in mythical terms in C.F. Lascelles Wraxall's 1864 novel "The Black Panther: A Boy's Adventures Among the Redskins" (an English author who admitted "never having traveled further west than Killarney"). An Indian chief states, "A Negro once lived with me." “He was called the Black Panther, and was my best hunter as well as my best warrior.”

“The Indians feared the Black Panther from the Gulf of Mexico up to the Rocky Mountains! He was born among us, for his father and mother were slaves of my father. I first put the boy on a horse. I put the first weapons in his hands, and taught him how to use them. I, too, it was who taught him the war-yell of the Delawares, which afterwards none of us could utter with such power as the Black Panther.”

The comic book's use of Wakanda resembled eroticized images of Africans and Indians as lenses through which to perceive the other, such as those of Edgar Rice Burroughs, a century later. The guy who gave the world Tarzan may also be attributed for the first time Wakanda was transplanted from one cultural context to another.

Marvel’s Wakanda does not emphasize nor truly embraces the connect American Indians have with Africans. Not only does claiming Indigenous culture as African is misleading but it misleads the people who truly think Wakanda is indeed African. Furthermore, Marvel's Black Panther could have also touched on how American Indians influenced and help create African culture. Over 90% of food crops varities in Africa actually come from the Americas. Many indigenous people already knew about Africans and vice versa but no where in the movie does it talk about it. 

The abondanment, resentment and bitterness Killmonger displayed in the movie are feelings many African Americans feel towards Africans because of how they were taught about history. When in reality a lot of the culture that is portrayed in the Black Panther movie is Indigenous culture and in truth many African Americans have Indigenous roots but often deny it because they are afraid of what their peers will see them as. 

A huge reason to why many African Americans feel a connection to Black Panther is for the simple fact that they took Indigenous culture black people are familiar with, stamped Africa on it and sold it back to them. Sadly, a lot of black people fell for another lie created by hollywood. 


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