Let’s imagine President’s Day in Wakanda. Yes, I know Wakanda is a kingdom with a King and not an elected President. T’Challa becomes King because his father was King and then he wins the challenge from M’Baku. But … since this week in the US we are honoring our US Presidents (except of course the current occupant of the oval office because he is an agent of Russia and hasn’t shown competence to be President nor does he protect the country like a real President would do), I just got to thinking what it would be like if we were honoring our President of Wakanda this week. Go with me on this and let’s imagine celebrating President’s Day or King’s Day in Wakanda.
So, hail to T’Challa for keeping his country safe. That’s what a President does. T’Challa has a clear love of his people and he acted selflessly. He sought protection for the ideals and traditions of Wakanda. He even questioned why his father had left behind his cousin instead of bringing him to the safety of the lands of Wakanda. T’Challa did what a King, a President should do.
A New York Times article is very appropriate in its description of the movie, Black Panther: https://www.nytimes.com/2018/02/09/movies/black-panther-african-american-fans.html saying that the movie brings hope, hype and pride. We want a President to act in a way that makes us feel proud.
The actor who plays M’Baku, Winston Duke, was being interviewed on MSNBC and he spoke of how Wakanda shows what it means to be a citizen, what it means to be a King of a country and really want to protect it and ensure your country is not invaded or destroyed by outsiders.
T’Challa adored his mother and treated the women of his country with respect. The Generals / Warriors that protected him were largely women, under the leadership of Okoye. The farmers who plant and cultivate the important vibranium are mostly women. The scientific and technological brain behind the advances utilized by T’Challa and his army is his sister, Shuri.
This is a link to an article on the women of Wakanda that is worth reading: http://www.espn.com/espnw/culture/feature/article/22443520/powerful-heroines-shine-black-panther
My President T’Challa treats his romantic love, Nakia, with admiration and respect for her choices to be involved in helping others. He does not ask Nakia to give up her desire / dream of doing all that she can to help people outside of Wakanda. Instead, he identifies a way for her to pursue her dreams while still partnering with him. Nakia is to be with him, by his side, not taking a role subservient to him or giving up her dreams.
Wow, that’s a President I would love to have running my country … a President who believes women are equals and deserve equal pay, equal opportunity and equal treatment.
Much will be said of Black Panther’s visual presentation as a cinematographic force and its historical success in the box office. More will be said of the role this film will play with respect to representation in terms of both race and gender
We had a President like that, Barack Obama. We clearly have a void now. But, as Ta-Nehesi Coates say, we were eight years in power. On the occasion of President’s Day, this book is a good read. It’s a series of essays that reflect on the era of President Obama, relates it to historical times and connects how his election may have resulted in the backlash that caused the current 45th occupant of the oval office.
But, I digress. Let me get back to King / President of Wakanda. From an article written by Howard University Professor Greg Carr, he compares T’Challa to the President of Tanzania, Julius Nyerere:
With advanced degrees in physics, engineering and economics, T’Challa’s intelligence rivals the smartest people in the Marvel universe and, like Batman, he has mastered pretty much every martial art on the planet.
In his Wakandan homeland, however, the Black Panther selflessly rules a staunchly independent, hidden nation that’s based entirely on African tradition and culture.
Carr said. “Nyerere believed African culture had the answer to solve Africa’s political problems. He tried to make that real in a country. He was incorruptible. That’s the reason he was universally beloved.”
The full article compares each of the main characters to a real-life person and provides some interesting analysis: https://mic.com/articles/187702/black-panther-is-fiction-but-its-characters-have-a-lot-in-common-with-these-real-life-people#.ibvcSGFL5
In any case, President T’Challa is smart and has an appreciation for science and technology. I can’t help but be pleased with how his breadth of intelligence was utilized for good. In the movie, he was portrayed as wanting to be protective of his country and having to be convinced to use their resources for those in need in other countries. I am told that the Marvel comics version actually showed the opposite. In the comic books, the King of Wakanda actively allowed the resources of the country for the betterment of other countries. At the end of the movie, King T’Challa proudly stood before the United Nations and announced that Wakanda would be a force for good. That’s a President I would be proud of.
On this President’s Day, it’s an opportunity for us to think of those who held the office of President that served the country well. Of course for many of my friends, family and colleagues, we have a very recent example to look to for someone who served admirably – President Barack Obama. T’Challa makes me as proud as Obama made me feel. And even more so, the pride I have in all that I saw in Wakanda gave me the beautiful feelings of hope that I had during many moments of those Obama eight years. An article in Buzzfeed touches on the beauty of what so many I know would feel with a President T’Challa: https://www.buzzfeed.com/koviebiakolo/black-panther-is-for-everybody-black?utm_term=.yxDjjp30jp#.xqxJJM72JM
In the conclusion of the film, affected by his experience with Killmonger, T’Challa goes to Oakland and sets up a foundation, headed by Shuri, for the community Killmonger’s father had hoped to help, decades earlier. In the final scene, Wakanda is represented by T’Challa, Okoye, and Nakia in the United Nations headquarters, ready to open itself up to the world to share its resources and information. The influence of Killmonger’s black American experience caused the Black Panther to not only change how Wakanda interacts with the world, but how he later saw his relationship to other people who looked like him.
My President T’Challa says, “The wise build bridges, the foolish build barriers.” I say to all of the little T’Challa in each of us just as his father said to him in the movie, ” Stand up, you are King.” That’s what a role model President does.