7 African tribes represented in Black Panther
The colours of Africa through the lens of cinema.
Black Panther, as we all know, is a movie known for its incredible plotline and cinematic prowess. But perhaps the most striking of its qualities lay in its vivid representation of Africa’s rich and lush cultures, histories, and people.Although Wakanda is fictitious, the city does depict Africa as the melting pot that it is: with various tribes, each having its own unique culture, language, style and history of becoming. Here is a look at some of these amazing tribes whose influences are beautifully shown as inherent, working parts of Wakanda.
The beauty of this movie lies in how it shows a tribe of warriors called the Border Tribe who disguise themselves as farmers to protect their mission of protecting and patrolling Wakandan borders. These impressive warriors are dressed in distinctive costumes referencing the traditional gear worn by the Basotho people. Under their blankets, this tribe carries vibranium-fused shields and weapons.
There are a number of scenes in the movie showing texts and scriptures inspired by the Nsibidi, whose origins can be traced back to today’s Cross River in Nigeria’s southern perimeters. What makes Nsibidians so impressive is their system of symbols, which are still used today.
NDEBELE, SOUTH AFRICA
The Ndebele culture is one instantly recognisable way of life amidst the South African culture. This wonderful tribe is renowned for its bold and colorful wall paintings that can be seen all across the eastern parts of South Africa. The Ndebele women show off the best of African tribes when they wear gold rings. Of course, these rings can only be worn by married women. The richer the husband, the more rings he gives to his wife.
In the movie, Himba women are shown to wear distinctive locks sculpted in otize paste, itself made from butter, fat and red ochre. In real life, Himba folks live in the largely inhospitable desert climate of Northern Namibia.
ZULUS, SOUTH AFRICA
Zulus are well represented in the movie, by way of Mother Ramonda, who makes quite the impression with her large disc headdress, everytime she enters a scene. Akin to the reel depiction, the size of hats worn by Zulu women are majestic, though they vary according to clans. The biggest headpiece can measure up to a meter in diameter!
MAASAI, KENYA AND TANZANIA
Perhaps the most standout tribe in Black Panther, the Dora Milaje tribe resembles real-life Maasai warriors, and their correlation is apparent due to the red armor that they both wear as well as the tall spears that seem permanently in hand. In real life, it is unclear why the Maasai wear shawls, but as far as aesthetical recognition is concerned, the apparel does make them unique in identity.
DAHOMEY, THE REPUBLIC OF BENIN
While the Maasai bears the inspiration behind the costumes of the reel Dora Milaje, it is the history of the Dahomey tribe from the Republic of Benin that would influence their silver screen history. The Dahomey can be traced back to the 17th century town Dahomey, whose site today lies in the Western African territory of Benin.