We have pretty much officially settled in to Stone Town, and most days will now be schoolwork, board games, maybe some TV, and possibly street food for dinner while watching the sunset. That is what we did. We woke up in the morning and did a bunch of schoolwork. We played Civilization (Janet won), and went out to street food for dinner. We also re-watched Black Panther.

Black Panther is a Marvel movie about the Marvel superhero Black Panther. The characters live in a land called Wakanda, somewhere in Africa, which is a nation more technologically advanced than any other nation in the world.

It depends on which version you watch, read, or listen to, but Wakanda is probably somewhere in the Tanzania-Kenya region. That is where we are right now.

Wakanda is made-up, but the movie has woven numerous parts of African culture inside it. Similar to The Lion King, the movie brought many aspects of Sub-Saharan Africa and squished it all into one movie. In Black Panther, some of the characters wear special clothing that is inpired by real African tribes. Those include Maasai costumes, neck rings, Zulu headdresses, Basotho blankets, lip plates, and many other different African designs.

We got to go to Mto Wa Mbu, and saw the Maasai people out and about, busy selling and buying in the market. We observed how they dressed, and noted that it was very Maasai. In Black Panther, there is a character named Okoye. The designers mixed some maasai colors and textures, with some made-up Wakandan features to create a costume that was very much inspired by Maasai outfits. The name Okoye is a Nigerian surname, and there are several Nigerian-Americans such as Stan Okoye, Christian Okoye, and Amobi Okoye who have that last name. I personally have never heard of them.

Another feature making up Okoye are her neck rings. The piece of jewelry is not only an African Tradition, but an Asian one as well. Neck rings are stiff metal rings that go around your neck (not tight), traditionally colors gold or silver.

There are also pieces of clothing in the movie called Basotho Blankets. There is a character named W’Kabi, and he is seen wearing one. The Basotho blanket probably originated somewhere in Lesotho. The Basothos are a Bantu-speaking people of Lesotho who are often seen wearing them. The Basotho Blanket is a gender-neutral piece of clothing, and it is the color and pattern of the blankets that express individual personality.

Lip plates are also featured in Black Panther. A Wakandan elder is seen with one of them. Lip plates are usually made out of wood or clay. They are a form of ceremonial body modification. The plates are put into a pierced hole in either the lower or upper (or both) lip. My guess is that they don’t immediately start big, but they start with smaller disks, and stretch the hole with bigger ones as they get older.

There is one last piece of fancy adornment to these characters that I am going to talk about. The Zulu headdress. Queen Ramonda in the movie is seen wearing one of these headdresses. Zulu headdresses are traditionally worn by married women for ceremonial occasions. They origianted from the South-African nation of the Zulu.

It it amazing how they snuck all those things in there. But it is not only the clothing from Black Panther that comes from the real world, but also the language. In the movie, sometimes they speak in a strange dialect called isiXhosa. It is real. The sounds are made with clicking and other very different noises, that must have devoloped very differently from the aaaa and eeee that we speak with in English. The language comes from South Africa, and is considered one of the hardest languages in the world to learn. It is so unfamiliar to anyone outside of South Africa, that the actors actually did a pretty horrible job at speaking it.

Wakanda may not be real, but this clothing and this language are real things that people wear and speak in real life today.

PS: This is a copy, because my original post got deleted, so I had to write the whole thing over again from memory.

Below: Maasai-ish Costumes on Okoye


Below: Neck Rings on Okoye

Below: Basotho Blankets

Below: Lip Plates

Below: Zulu Headdresses