Movie fans, actors and comic enthusiasts in Nigeria’s commercial capital Lagos have been flocking to screenings of Marvel superhero movie “Black Panther” which opened in Africa’s most populous country this week.
The Walt Disney Co movie, which features a predominantly black cast, is set in the fictional African nation of Wakanda. It tells the story of the new king, T’Challa/Black Panther (Chadwick Boseman), who is challenged by rival factions.
“For once we are not just dressed in slave clothes undergoing slavery or brutality or what have you, but for once we are dressed in good clothes for once and we are telling our stories and we are focusing on different tribes that make up Africa. That is just great to be happening at this point in time, that is just amazing”,actress Ijeoma Agu said.
I can see the references in the work and I really respect that. And then there is the African American empowerment story in there as well so it is amazing.
Nigeria, Africa’s largest economy, is also a cultural powerhouse that boasts the continent’s biggest film industry, known as Nollywood. Lagos is the country’s filmmaking hub.
At a screening of “Black Panther” on Friday (February 16) in Lekki, an upmarket district of Lagos, Nollywood stars mingled with TV personalities and locals. The showing was one of a number of screenings in the city.
Most people were dressed in traditional Nigerian robes and gowns, with some opting to wear specially made attire in keeping with the film’s futuristic take on African garments.
Film maker , Bolaji Kekere -Ekun is proud of the empowerment theme of the story.
“The people that made the film, the film makers were very specific about the references they use in relationship to Africa, so they are pulling from the best fashion, the best arts. I can see the references in the work and I really respect that. And then there is the African American empowerment story in there as well so it is amazing”,Kereke-Ekun said.
Local actress Ijeoma Grace Agu used body paint and a two-piece outfit as an homage to the film’s fashion aesthetic and said she was excited to watch the film.
“They tried to portray black actors in a good light, we have got the Nollywood actors doing fabulously well and of-course reaching out to Africans in the diaspora and all the rest, so clearly this is another tribute to black actors”, a guest Dapo Ojora noted.
Directed by black director Ryan Coogler and featuring actors including Michael B. Jordan, Angela Bassett, Lupita Nyong’o and Forest Whittaker, the film has received widespread critical acclaim after years of criticism about the under-representation of black people in Hollywood.