Black Panther has captivated masses from New York to Kampala. Yes, T’challa is not the first black superhero (sorry Blade that we seem to have forgotten you in all this) but Black Panther seems to bring a more authentic, culturally relatable representation of Africa through the fictional Wakanda kingdom to the big screen. Every single human of dark skin on this planet is standing in the light of this African halo and countries are fighting for the share of the Wakanda cake.
From the costumes to the accents, to the scenery, the directors of Black Panther seemed intent on capturing as much of Africa as possible. The director Coogler described a movie as “ a love letter to Africa, to its people, its diverse topography, culture, and traditions. You can feel the love through the film. The fight scenes are fast-paced, but the camera lingers on the scenery.” That, however, hasn’t stopped people from really trying to pin down where in Africa Wakanda really is.
Wakanda first appeared in a Fantastic Four #52 from July 1966. According to Marvel Atlas #2, Wakanda is shown to border Lake Turkana, near South Sudan, Uganda, Kenya, and Ethiopia. In real life, this location actually represents a disputed border region known as the Llemi Triangle. One enthusiastic Ugandan citizen, however, is having none of those limitations and they have updated the Kanungu District Wikipedia page naming it as the inspiration for the city of Wakanda depicted in black panther and you can sort of understand why. But just in case you don’t here a couple of theories.
- Mbaku of the Jabari tribe, like T’challa, draws his power from the White Gorilla. According to set designer Hannah Bleacher, he lives in snow-capped mountains in Africa. Snow-capped mountains and gorillas in the same place, well, I don’t need to spell that out.
- The Golden City is protected by a canopy of impenetrable forest that protects Wakanda’s technologically advanced capital from the rest of the world. That sounds a lot like Bwindi to me. So much, they actually used footage of Bwindi impenetrable forest to bring that to life.
- Although not close to Kanungu, the Rhinos make another case for Uganda at the very least. Both the Black Rhinoceros and the Nothern White Rhinoceros are indigenous to Uganda but due to prolonged conflict, they were wiped out of Uganda. Rhino Sanctuary is doing a brilliant job of trying to re-introduce the Rhinos into Uganda. A poetic reference to the majestic beauty of what can be achieved when we protect our natural resources.
- And of course, there are the islands on which The Golden City is built, definitely inspired by the ever so beautiful Lake Bunyonyi, Africas 2nd deepest Lake in Africa.
Although we didn’t seem to offer much in terms of costume and accent, Uganda was the backdrop of its fair share of Wakanda scenery. Safe to say if you want to experience real life Wakanda, Uganda is an ideal place to start.