John Kani on what Black Panther means for Africa

Marvel Studios' BLACK PANTHER..Black Panther/T'Challa (Chadwick Boseman)..Ph: Film Frame..©Marvel Studios 2018

During an interview at the US premiere of Black Panther, the legendary South African actor John Kani – who plays King T’Challa in Marvel’s latest blockbuster – dropped some serious bars on what Black Panther means for Africa. We’ve transcribed parts of the interview so you can take in Kani’s powerful statement.

We’ve watched too many movies of Tarzan in Africa, and we’ve never found this legend among us. When our grandfathers tell us stories there was nothing of a white man talking with apes. So when I was talking to my son on the set of Captain America, I asked the director, “Why am I speaking English? We’re in Wakanda”. And that’s how I introduced isiXhosa.

The line was simple, I was missing my son, I haven’t seen him in a long time, in my language: “Unqabile nyana, ndikugqibele kudala. Asikaxoxi kakuhle iindaba zexhego”. And Africa celebrated this [use of isiXhosa]. Absolutely from Cape to Cairo, people thought it was wonderful. And now they’re expecting this blockbuster which is yet another African input into Hollywood.

This movie is going to deal with the myth that if the white colonialist did not land in Africa, that we’d still be walking in skins with spears chasing each other. We’ll prove we built the pyramids in Egypt. It proves that the libraries in Timbuktu, with the history of mankind, is in Africa. We’ll prove that the Zimbabwe ruins were built by us. We’ll prove that the cradle of humankind is in southern Africa. So this is one time where African people are shown at their fullest potential – where they’re able to travel to space and back with incredible technology. So for us, there’s a bit of a seriousness about this movie for many of us.

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