Wakanda is a Pan-African nation-state populated by black people representing tribes and cultures across the continent.
Early in the year, the world of entertainment, films in particular was shaken with the release of the Marvel’s superhero flick, The Black Panther. The film that cost the studio Three hundred Million dollars to produce exceeded all expectations and projections by grossing almost Two billion dollars across the globe. The success of Black Panther was made more profound because it featured a strong cast of Black actors and was set in a fictional African country of Wakanda.
Wakanda is a Pan-African nation-state populated by black people representing tribes and cultures across the continent. Wakanda is free from the grips of colonialism, it has never been touched by colonial forces — meaning it isn’t pre-colonial or even postcolonial, for even those timestamps rely on whiteness. Because colonialism has not met its lands, Wakanda is the richest and most technologically- advanced nation in the universe. It is a Utopian glimmer of ‘what if’ or what can be. Wakanda is the rewriting of history as black revolutionaries and nationalists have wished, for centuries.
Black Panther as a film is a cultural narrative which is the ongoing and unfolding history of a people or community. It resonates with the aspirational journey of Nigeria as she struggles to establish herself, away from the self-acclaimed ‘Giant of Africa’, but to make sense of her identity, ideology, economy and politics among others.
Wakanda as a country remains socially and culturally relevant because it imagines a world where black people continually triumph over the influences of capitalism, Western imperialism and white supremacy. It is all about Afrofuturism which can be described as a black perspective on the politics, aesthetics and cultural aspects of research, science and technology. Afrofuturism offers a highly intersectional way of looking at possible futures or alternate realities through a black cultural lens. It is non-linear, fluid and feminist; it uses the black imagination to consider mysticism, metaphysics, identity and liberation; and, despite offering black people a way to see ourselves in a better future, Afrofuturism blends the future, the past and the present.
Wakanda’s economy revolves round Vibranium, a meteoric metallic ore, from which its advanced technology was developed from. Even though highly sought-after, the ancient defenders of Wakanda protected its precious resources from being exploited by foreign invaders. More importantly, the resources of Wakanda were used to develop the country to the point that it became the envy of other countries. The resources are judiciously and selflessly deployed by the leaders, creating a unified wealth and prosperity for the citizens of Wakanda. Vibranium made every Wakandan proud, catered for and there was no form of internal strife or division arising from the control of this invaluable and strategic resource. There is a lesson inherent in this for Nigeria, especially as resource control has remained one of the main challenges that the country is faced with. The politics of resource control has continued to negate the benefits and advantages of Nigeria’s natural resources. Remaining in self-imposed idyll, Wakanda’s technology was developed, entirely independent of the rest of the world. Its computer technology is very advanced and almost impossible to penetrate even as Wakandas studied outside technologies and mastered its use and exploitation. Advance multipurpose communication devices like the Kimoyo Beads and Kimoyo Card are some of the technological feats that set this fictional African country light years ahead of others.
This is akin to the enviable technological and economic feats of countries like China, Korea, Japan, Singapore and the United Arab Emirates who under focused and resourceful leadership turned inward and after decades of diligence and homegrown innovations have become respectable global powerhouses. Coming off the back of colonialism, Nigeria took off from the starting block alongside some of these countries but our rudderless journey fifty eight years after independence has left us in the backwater of underdevelopment, dependency on foreign aids and a humongous debt profile. The challenges of job creation, unemployment, absence of capacity and loss of agency continue to stifle necessary advancements. Wakanda’s hi-tech products are developed by her indigenous researchers, innovators, scientists and technologists and for the use of Wakandans. However, the reality in Nigeria is a far cry from this as research capacities are neither promoted nor encouraged in institutions nor industries. This important and strategic development fundamental are neglected with little or no government support. The end result is over reliance on imported goods and the collapse and death of local industries and manufacturers. Beyond vibranium, the real strength of Wakanda is its focused and development oriented leadership. The King of Wakanda heads the utopia nation and is supported by the Taifa Ngao, a council of tribal elders, a replica of our system in Nigeria with the President and the Federal Executive Council. While the Wakandan political structure evidently delivers much to the people, the same cannot be said of the Presidential system in operation in Nigeria especially with the dictatorial nuances of political leadership at different tiers of government in the country.
The leader, T’Challa is both strong and intelligent. With a Ph.D. in Physics from the University of Oxford, he is a resourceful leader who pioneered cutting edge technology. He even developed his own strand of science known as Shadow Physics which combines Quantum Science with Ancient Alchemy. As the Commander-in-chief of the nation, he puts the country’s interest first over all else, in contrast to the sit tight and forceful perpetuation syndrome amongst elected public office holders with disregards for laid down political processes and protocols.
Wakanda is home to the (fictional) world’s most advanced technologies. However, some of them are basic technologies that make life easier for the Wakandan citizens. For example, the Kimoyo beads — advanced communications technology — are available to every citizen for use. Each bead performs communications, medical history, security and geotracking functions among others. One of the Kimoyo beads; the Prime bead, provides a lifetime worth of medical knowledge about the individual Wakandan; each gets one prime bead at birth. This is an indication that every citizen is accounted for and has their information in the Wakandan database.
The dream of a Nigerian unified database has journeyed from SIM card registrations, to include registration for the National Driver’s License, International passport, Voters registration as well as the National Identity registration championed by the National Identity Management Commission (NIMC), to Lagos State residents registration under the Lagos State Residents Registration Agency (LASRRA) and then to the most recent of them all, Bank Verification Number (BVN) yet with all these we do not have a unified database, a necessary tool for national planning.