The Thrill of the Black Panther

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The Author wore African garb to celebrate the movie; “The Black Panther”

I put on my colorful embroidered African shirt I brought from Zambia years ago. I put on my West African colorful hat. I wore my Zambian flag colors scarf around my neck. I got into my car and selected from my Ipod Vimbuza Tumbuka traditional music I hand tape recorded at night in August in 1993 at Chifwiti Village in Lundazi. Listening to this music was perfect for this special occasion. I had digitized the entire 40 minute audio tape of the music in 2000. I drove the 6Kms on the 4 lane I-81 North  InterState American Highway to the shopping Mall.

My heart was beating fast with anticipation and excitement. I was about to find out if all the global publicity about the “Black Panther” was based on reality or slick commercial hype where anything easily goes viral these days with the right internet manipulation. During the first scenes, I saw 2 African American men talking in an apartment in the usual black ghetto as they were uncovering 2 large bad ass high powered automatic rifles. I rolled my eyes, slapped my forehead and thought: “I have been duped! Why was I wasting my time? I thought they said this movie was not about the usual tiresome racist white American Hollywood characters of black and African criminals, pimps, drug dealers, and violent ghetto thugs.”

After a few minutes, I suddenly realized I was seeing something entirely new that I had never seen on a large movie screen before since as a child, I first saw a Hollywood black and white grainy cinema in 1960. This is when my school teacher father hang the family white bed sheet on the outside of our house red brick wall in the evening on which the cinema was projected. This was at Chasela Primary School in the Luangwa Valley. The white British cinema crew with their grey Land Rover did not have a portable white movie screen. This was at the remote village school in the British colonial Northern Rhodesia, now independent Zambia in Southern Africa.

What I was seeing now is what historians will call the shifting paradigm and seismic shift in epistemology. Big block buster movies will not be the same after you have seen “The Black Panther”. I know all of this sounds hyperbolic. I will leave you to go and make your own judgement when you decide to watch the movie. I don’t want to describe it all to avoid being a spoiler.

Of course there are numerous great things about the movie. One of them is for the first time I was able to see all the wide shades of us Africans and black people that I grew up with. People that I have seen, touched, loved, worked with, went to school with, grew up with, laughed with, smiled, smelled, teased, and sometimes been angry and argued with in normal life. The black people had natural kinky hair, light brown skin, and blue black dark skin like my late mother, flat wide noses you could drive a truck or a Dubrava bus through, had coherent speech, I saw beautiful black women and heard African languages in including Xhosa. I swear Lupita Nyango is so stunningly beautiful, she looks like Lina Phiri from Kasonjola Village in Chipata. In my romantic adventure novel “The Bridge”, I describe Lina Phiri’s exquisite beauty on page 54 when I saw her when I was 14 years old. This is many years before I met chipesha mano Linda Jitanda if you have been following “Woman Made me Love Zambia”. Some of my reactions to “The Black Panther” might be offensive to some. But I just found all of this liberating to my soul, delicious and fabulous.

Before anyone says the whole racial angle is overdone on my part, the sign of a good movie is that you forget you are watching a movie. At the end I felt that I wasn’t conscious of the skin color of the actors. I didn’t care. I even shade some tears at the end because the story and the characters were so compelling. The plot was so thick. Do you remember when the movie “Shaka Zulu”  in the 1980s or when “Lord of the Rings” came out? I watched those movies so many times. I think I am going to watch the “Black Panther” many times. I will not be able to get enough of it. Tonight I might go and see it again.

By Mwizenge S. Tembo, Ph. D.

Professor of Sociology

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24 COMMENTS

  1. Black Panther would definitely not be set in Zambian scenery given the cholera filth we saw.Wakanda country the advanced nation is not Zed for sure.

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    • Please go watch, do not be like HH who condemns everything just because he is no a part of it… if you leave your negative backwardness about Zambia at the door, you will see a Zambian actor, hear a Zambian language and see a famous site in Zed in the movie…UTULO no BUTUTU ba UPND… even abroad you are loyal to your cheap negativity about ZED… Shame Zambia is better now that you are not in the country

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    • At our more there were police checking movie tickets. I thought what the hell??? And my white friend’s sister said movie was for black people.
      Mr. Tembo you are kind of people portraiying Black Panther is for us. Why wear costumes?
      I gave away ticket.

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  2. My fiance and I saw it on Sunday and its a good movie.

    I was scared the fights looked real.

    I didn’t say the Zambian flag of all the countries flag in it.

    Overall thanks Nick, I know you are reading this for taking me to realize what the people of my ancestors would have have lived.

    A worthy movie, and best movie I have seen since Titanic.

    A must WATCH for all of you.

    Thanks

    BB2014,2016

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    • @1.1 Hakaiinde, please don’t be cheated by this Guy claiming he is in the movie and was teaching them Nyanja. There is no Zambian actor in this Black Panther movie, neither is Nyanja spoken in it. The young man who is claiming to be in the movie, featured on extra background. Check on the characters that are in the movie there is no Zambian mentioned. So get real it’s FAKE NEWS that a Zambian actor had a role in the movie.

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  3. They are just exploiting black political and cultural movements for their own financial gain.why use the theme song “The Revolution Will Not Be Televised” if you listen to that song by Heron Gil scott it explicitly warns that empowerment will never come from multinational corporations who run the media.

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    • Kabili imwe ba Africa you won’t exploit anything even if its at your door step. All you do is envy, jealousy, and negative gossip about any one who prospers. Instead of learning how they did it you lampoon them trying to belittle any positive efforts. If you fail in all this you just insult… no brains at all. NO ONE STOPS YOU FROM EXPLOITING “THEIR’ Political and cultural movement for financial gain… please do not bring up the lie that you are so noble and can’t exploit anyone for financial gain.

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  4. Its a shame that this movie grossed over $2.5 million in black areas yet we fooools can not support our own businesses and movie industries.
    Wake up from your docility!!

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  5. I saw the movie last Sunday, its awesome, shows the struggles of Africans, Cultres and our growth, but mostly importantly gives so much respect to women as well as encourages them to accept their true identities and potential in society. Thank you MARVEL…

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    • The answer is irrelevant…Do they have such animal as a lion in England, which is symbolic national animal?

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    • Black Panther is identified with black people. The Black Panther movement in the 70s was a black activist movement banned in America but whose members fled some to Zambia like Mike Tabor.

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  6. Beautiful movie…a dose of what we really have in Africa, resources upon resources. Unfortunately in the real world, the whites found Wakanda and are exploiting it to the full while we doze and argue about silly stuff.

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  7. By any standard it is is a brilliant film that has evoked a positive reaction to a fictional African nation that had the foresight to hide itself from the world and managed to advance technologically.

    Readctions from kids around the world has brought curiosity about the real Africa. Smarter nations will use this to encourage more interaction and tourism.

    It is a paradigm shift in its proof that a cast made up of Africans, African American and Brit Africans can sell huge numbers breaking a long standing myth that could open the door for even African film makers to benefit from.

    Last of all the clever use of real history buried within such as the female warriors and the alluded to Mansa Munda and old African empires as well as colonial history can only be a good thing. Well done…

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    • Reactions… correction

      Same week as a Lusaka born lady wins a BAFTA. Good for the creative industries if people are forward thinking. It is not only copper that can mined but our gifts and talents.

      It may not count to those who do not care but well done to the Zambian actor who offered up Nyanja to be included. Let kids have heroes who look like them. That said I ran in to white, Asian, Latino and Native American people who dressed as Wakanda people so it has hit the mark.

      Watch it. Even the South African chancer in it will remind you of some of the jokers running around Zambia getting rich off your wealth.

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    • Mansa Musa… spell check is not ready. Great fiction. When the African cultural rinse is commercial get to making products and sell online instead of sulking about poverty. From fashion to arts the market has been awoken like the proverbial sleeping giant. Disney and Marvel won’t be shy about merchandise but it will not be enough to cater for the market hungry for positive Africa. Join in or sulk. Dissing cannot be our only art form of excellence.

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  8. Africa, My Africa! Really, what is there to talk ( or write), about this meaningless movie? When shall we wake up? This is simply a money spinning project on the back of hapless black characters bamboozled into believing they have been ushered into ‘celebrity status’ (whatever that is) in hollywood circles. Always pawns in the hands of white exploiters!!! Shame on us.

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