BLACK PANTHER IS NOT A STORY ABOUT RACE IT IS A STORY OF REDEMPTION

 

If we go and watch Black Panther only because it is a story about an African nation ,with a African super hero and because finally we get to watch people that look like us starring in what has to be one of the most phenomenally successful movies of our times,we miss what I think is the whole point of the movie.

Black Panther is predominantly a movie about redemption.

My feelings  about the movie Black Panther are similar to the feelings I got after reading Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s book Americanah or  Ijeoma Umebinyuo’s book Questions for Ada.

It is a feeling and a state of being I cannot describe because those two books and this movie took me back to a place, a place that as a woman of African origin I had long forgotten.A place of power.A place of hope.A place of new beginnings about how I am going to  look at and understood myself from now on.

To be honest,I do not think that Jack Kirby and Stan Lee,who were among  the 3 co-creators of the Marvel comics series which enjoyed phenomenal success from  the late 1950’s to 1970 .  These two men both with Jewish roots I bet  had no idea what they started when they first published the first Black Panther comic book,issue #52 in July of 1966.

Issue #52 of the Marvel Comics when Black Panther made his debut.
Photo credits:Marvel Comics

They had no idea that with the birth of Black Panther,millions of Africans and people of African heritage would be proudly flocking to movie theaters to see people who looked like them starring in one of the most highly acclaimed action movies of our times.

It is safe to guess  that  Jack Kirby and Stan Lee whose parents were immigrants to the US both had an idea of what it felt like to belong to a place which was home but not really home. Ijeoma Umebinyuo in her book Questions for Ada writes:

“So, here you are
too foreign for home
too foreign for here. 
Never enough for both.”

Both of them may have listened to the stories their parents told of their lives ,how difficult and hard it was when they first stepped onto the shores of the United States to make a new life for themselves(America is not kind to immigrants).These stories of fighting the odds to be a success must have inspired these series that the  two men created where super heroes fight to ensure  “good” wins against “evil”.

At a time when there was no black super hero to speak of,they introduced an African super hero  to a readership of Marvel Comics that was 100 % white at a period in time when the the  superhero  genre of comic books was enjoying commercial success.

Years later, Wesley Snipes would make valiant efforts to bring Black Panther to life many times , his vision and goal  in trying to bring  Wakanda to life which he stated in an interview with Slate magazine was because it  he felt it was  ,”a fantastic way to help address some of the stereo types about Africa and the Africans glory,the African history,the African people of the day and of the time.”

But Snipes dream was not to be,it was not the right time .That was  until Marvel  which is owned by Disney studios started releasing action block busters like CaptainAmerica:Civil War and Chadwick Boseman made his first appearance as Black Panther in 2016.

The rest became  history because when  Ryan Coogler(writer/director) and Joe Robert Vole (screen writer) were paired up  and together they have made Black Panther into an action packed adventure worth the one hundred and thirty five minutes you spend on your  seat.On the way to grossing over $1Billion this weekend,  the pair who are both African Americans  have turned what was  previously  an overlooked classic into a “relatable and relevant movie” of the times we are living in.

Through out the more than two hours of action that has only just one rude gesture, we are living in a fantasy world that oddly is rooted in a real world that is in turmoil  and   Wakanda nation as a nation  is trying to evolve as a country as it goes through a transition in leadership and a leader of a new generation takes up the title of the Black Panther .

African countries are struggling in a similar manner,some more than others to try and find a seat at the global table and not just lean in into the conversation on global trade but become active players in a world that has had trade and economic policies  skewed more in the favour of  Western countries.Some of the turmoil that we are seeing in African countries is as a result of this generational struggle of an identity  and the result has been often times tragic.

In Black Panther,Wakanda    is not a single tribe but a group of tribes that together form the kingdom of Wakanda ,one of the worlds most technologically advanced countries  of whom the Black Panther is a hereditary title.In the film we see the  struggle that  transition brings  when the King  T’Chaka is tragically killed in a United Nations bombing and his son T’Challa has to fight many enemies to be worthy of this title .T’Challa has to struggle to define himself as a King and in one of the scenes we have  Nakia played by our very beautiful Lupita Nyong’o say ,“You cant let your father’s mistakes define who you are.You get to decide what kind of King you are going to  be.”

Many African countries are living through the consequences of mistakes that were done by previous presidents/kings/prime ministers and for some countries ,they seem stuck in a time warp that they think they cannot get out of.

Black panther is a reminder that there is always opportunity for rebirth or redemption at any point in time ,that is what life is,life is change.To be stuck in the same place,with the same mindsets is death.

We are living in a world that is constantly testing  how we see ourselves and our place in the world as Africans.We cannot keep hiding behind the fact that we have always been the recipients of aid or that we were once colonized and have suffered through bad leadership.

Why,despite the many natural resources we have,do Africa countries expect bail outs from foreign donors ?

Why,despite the fact that we have some of the brightest minds on the continent at this moment in time do we keep making bad political choices when it comes to our leaders ?

Is it not time that we looked at ourselves anew ?

Is this not the time that we are reminded,thanks to the interest in African literature and increasing acclaim  and commercial success of African writers and culture that we see this as our time of redemption ?

It is my hope that as many head of states from Africa see these film for what it is  and hopefully pricks their consciences and that they decide to do better for their countries and the people who they lead.

The movie is  a timely reminder to Africans and people of African origin or with African roots that there is everything to be proud  about who we are,everything from our hair,art,fashion and culture was on display on Black panther.

Let us celebrate who we are without forgetting where we have come from or where we are going for at one point in time #WeWereKings ,we still are we just have to remind ourselves of the these things we have forgotten.

Let us take the responsibility of making the world a better place, “we have the tools to liberate ourselves and the people in the world that look like us.We cannot turn our backs on the truth our fore fathers were too afraid to face,the truth they hid.We cannot turn our backs on that truth,we must right their wrongs.”

Our redemption as Africans ,as people with a role and a place in the world  begins when we start looking at ourselves anew and using the tools(natural  and human resources) we have to redeem ourselves .

Photo Credits:Matt Kennedy/Marvel Studios

And the best part about Black Panther,definitely the women because  characters had depth and  they were given an   opportunity  to give a bad-ass performance.This very simple fact of allowing women to be themselves has made women who would not ordinarily walk into a movie theater to watch  a high action movie flocking to buy tickets to watch Black Panther.

Three  of my girl friends and  I went to watch this movie and could not stop talking about it afterwards,I have talked to a lot of other women who went to watch it too who would not ordinarily watch an action movie and they loved it as well.

A unanimous conclusion from the women that have watched the movie is the admiration they expressed for both General Okoye,Nakia and Shuri.In an interview carried on Vanity Fair,Lupita Nyong’o says of the women in the cast ,“Women are allowed to realize their full potential and that’s what Ryan [Coogler] wanted to show and he committed to having that number of women around him.”

The women in Wakanda are not afraid to confront men when they make bad decisions or to challenge them either.

One of my most memorable scenes from the movie is when General Okoye head of Wakanda’s armed forces and Intel  confronts W’Kabi who is Wakanda’s head of security and they have this exchange.

W’Kabi to Ooye : “Would you kill me, my love ?”

Okoye to W’Kabi: “For Wakanda ,without question!I would die protecting1”

That scene right there,shook me and I am still thinking about it.

Danai Gurira who plays General Okoye  and whose home country happens to be Zimbabwe gives a sterling performance through out  the movie and the car chase they have with Lupita Nyong’o while on a mission is among   the  most thrilling scenes in the whole movie.Seeing her in action together with the Dora Milajes   you realize how  we have undervalued ourselves as women  and the contribution we can make to our communities and countries.

Women are the steady ,strong and  powerful players of our societies,African culture recognized this and great honor was accorded to them. Wakanda is a better country because it values its women and we need to learn from the high cost we have had to pay of maintaining the lie that only men should and can lead.

Our redemption as a communities,as countries begins with this simple truth “that to redeem ourselves we have to go back to the beginning..to our ancestral plains and origins,to where we “lost” our home and find ourselves.Only then can we right the wrongs we have had to live with.”

Wakanda .Forever!

What were your favourite parts of Black Panther ?We would love to hear from you.

 

 

WHATS IN YOUR CUP OF TEA ?

Follow your dreams (1)

“Black or white?”is a question increasingly being asked when you walk into a restaurant and ask for tea.

Black is what it sounds like black tea while white is if you would like  a dash or two or three of milk.

Tea holds a special place in Kenyan households and hearts,it is the drink of choice that we give to welcome visitors into our homes and is a sign of the high esteem with which we hold them .

Tea is the preferred beverage o choice in most Kenyan households and many people will swear that their mothers way of preparing tea is the best.There have been broken hearts where tea was involved and it was brewed not quite up to perfection.

Some people do take their tea up a notch by adding spices like tea masala,cardamons,cinnamon or fresh ginger or rosemary.Al little while back I had a recipe for Chai Tea .

Tea drinking is embraced across many cultures in Africa,Europe,Asia the middle East and in the Americas.

Countries like China,Japan,Russia,England,India,Turkey,Egypt and Morocco have tea drinking traditions spanning hundreds of years.You have not really enjoyed tea until you have  attended a Chinese or Japanese tea ceremony where in both of  of these cultures  tea holds a special seat of honor .

The tradition of tea drinking as a way to maintain a healthy lifestyle goes back hundred of years .According to early Buddhist texts,tea was described as a potent medicine for promoting good health,aiding digestion and relieving the  symptoms that accompanied the common cold.

There are many varieties of tea available apart form the black tea,there is green ,white ,herbal  and more recently we have been hearing of purple tea and its benefits.

For a country of tea drinkers like Kenya as well as for anyone who enjoys their tea,are there any benefits to a daily cup of your favorite hot beverage?

Apart from the effects tea has of refreshing and restoring us (I am sure you know a few people who cannot function without their favorite hot beverage),science is just now discovering the health benefits that accompany tea drinking.

According to the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics,the biggest evidence in support of tea drinking has been attributed to the antioxidants it contains that have been found to improve heart health.

These anti oxidants found in both green and black tea which are different from what we get from fruits have been attributed to have disease fighting capabilities.

The work of antioxidants is to look for free radicals roaming around your body and to get rid of them.These free radicals are the cause of many degenerative diseases and also occur as a result of aging.

Antioxidants work by  detoxifying the body of  these free agents so that they do not cause disease through the damage of body cells.

Countries like Japan and China that have a tea drinking culture reportedly have less incidences of heart disease and some cancers according to John Weisburger, PhD, senior researcher at the Institute for Cancer Prevention in Valhalla, N.Y.

Caffeine is the stimulant found in tea as well as coffee is a mental booster ,elevates our moods and gets us started in the morning .Like all good things  to be able to enjoy the benefits of tea it should be taken in moderation.

Drinking more than 3 tea cups(not mugs) of tea is advisable and it should not be given to young children and adolescents as it hinders the absorption of iron which young and growing bodies need lots of in order to grow.

Just out of  curiosity I would love to know just how many cups anyone reading this takes of tea and how best they like it,brewed or instant though I must say instant tea has nothing on brewed tea(I might be biased).

As always we love reading your comments and suggestions,looking forward to seeing you in the comments later.

 

BRIDGING KENYA’S LOCAL CONTENT GAP

LOCAL CONTENT

Maridadi started out  as a food blog ,it was the fourth blog i had started and it was l in an effort to bridge the local content gap  in the Kenyan  market.

I was tired and maybe bored of reading stories from other continents,great as they were i needed to read stories that were  closer to home.

And i started writing about cooking traditional Kenyan vegetables,getting adventurous with ugali,i even wrote about boiling green maize/corn a tasty delicacy especially right now when we are having the rainy season.

And yes i even had a matumbo (goat tripe) recipe.

It was exciting to see the many peple who read the posts and one of the top favourites from readers all over the world was the njahi or black beans recipe.

So Kenyans……. Africa and the rest of the world  are  ready to hear stories from its writers,just ask Chimamanda Adichie who has had roaring success with her books .

In the beginning it was agonizing ,i  kept on checking the statistics to see just how many people read my posts,i wanted to hit 5000 views with my first post.

But it does not happen that way,like all writers know….. but you write anyway.

If you are an aspiring writer with something to say…write…not for the money but because you want to be part of the exciting changes happening on the african continent and in your country.

Inspire someone.

Which brings me to my 2nd point….

Social media has changed the way we consume information,how we share it and how we communicate with each other.

Just look at the Facebook groups that are  bringing together individuals from all the 5 continents sharing a  common interest(s).

We are filtering out information already and creators of content need to recognize that we cannot be everything to everyone,find your niche audience then go for it,write ,create and share your it.

You will only be great at what you do if you love what you do.

Your blog will turn into a rich,vibrant space where people can share ideas when they see the love  you have for what you do.

When Mozilla released a report on a study they did last year on how technology and design approaches can help grow the creation of local content, they found some interesting things about Kenya.

Here are a few findings from the study

  • Beyond Whatsapp  and other social media platforms many Kenyans have very little  use of the internet.
  • There is a very glaring lack of local content especially for non English speakers.
  • Gossip and entertainment news form a very large proportion of local content that is available 

With these findings in mind,i am on a mission to campaign for more local content on the web,i would love to see a Swahili blog up and running in addition to reading more content from Kenyans and other Africans.

Do you have any ideas to share of how we can make this happen,leave  comment.

And if you are a blogger or writer and would like to share your writing with the readers who read Maridadi,leave a link of your blog in the comments section.

Xo,

Ina

DIGITAL SRAMBLE FOR DATA

Almost two and a half years ago i discovered a way to check the statistics on a couple of pages on Facebook.

Then the data available was on how many users were checking onto the page ,at what time they were checking into each page and their age groups.

Now it is no longer possible to do so.

But i wrote a post on the best possible times to post on social media.

Today corporates and governments have discovered the virtual gold mine we are sitting on.

It almost feels like the scramble for Africa all over again.

Pew

The profiles of social media users are tickets to new products and services and tweaking of products and services to suit an increasingly demanding population.

In September 2014,the Pew Research Center released a report on social media use of American adults,Facebook beat all other platforms to remain as the most popular.

At least 70% of Facebook users interact with the site at least once a  day

If we compare this with Twitter usage.

We find that only 23% of internet users use the platform and of these only 19% of the entire adult population.

Instagram has continued to see steady increase too with 26% of internet users and 21% of the entire adult population.

More women are most likely to be active on Pinterest,Instagram and Facebook than men.

They spend far more time on social media sites than men.

And that is where marketers and product developers should be looking .

Let the scramble begin!

MY STORY,WHAT IS YOURS?

For the past one year i have been running a very busy corporation.

It is a large corporation covering the whole of Africa and it gave me sleepless nights.

There was always too much work to do and too little time to do it in.

Too many client meetings to go to.

Too many training sessions.

Too many providers i was running after.

What was a girl to do with all these work load?

But i had a little problem …..

The corporation existed on paper,everything else was in my head.

That is what in other simpler terms is called a dream.

It was time to stop dreaming and to start working.

January of this year and i told everyone i thought would be interested that i was now working for myself.

Maridadi Company is a brand that is proudly African

The name is in Swahili and it translates to beautiful because that is what Africa is.

Our aim is to be the number 1 provider of PR and Communication services to brands that are African or operate in Africa.

Our aim is to create a communication and PR network that builds African brands in words the continent understands thereby creating a consistent narrative .

Do you have a story,whats your African story?