Congratulations to all the contestants of the Wakanda: Rewriting Africa contest. Your poems are rich and approach the subject matter from a wealth of poetic ingenuity. Your efforts at rewriting your Africa, in believing in her future as T’Chala believes, are commendable. Each poem is a win in its own right; however, as true to any contest, a poem must be adjudged a win. The winning poem for this contest has demonstrated a broader appreciation for the issues raised in the movie, Black Panther. The poet demonstrates grasp of thematic engagement, mastery of language and synergy of salient elements of the movie to make his poem a beautiful interpretation of the original work. Ola W. Halim portrays the story of Africa in his “Wakanda Africa”, and concludes with a vision of a reborn Africa, the Wakandanin all Africans!
A Note on “Wakandan Africa” – Winner of the Wakanda: Rewriting Africa Contest
It is often challenging to find writers explore intertextuality with keen interest in interpreting an original work. It is common to find modern day artists explore a theme or make an adaptation of another work; but to take a work of art and recreate it to serve a bigger cause without distorting the salience in the original text is a feat worth celebrating. Many times, film directors do justice to this – they take a comic book or a novel and turn it to awarding winning movies. This is the case with the Black Panther, the reinvention of Africa in a Wakanda simulation.
It is important to signify why a contest was staged around the movie, Black Panther. Besides the fact that the movie has broken major records, this masterpiece of Hollywood invention has become a sociocultural trend, an awakening of some sort among people of color with renewed interest in Africa, or Wakanda – a fiction that has become a reality to many in diaspora; Black Panther has become the first movie to be aired in a cinema in the holy Kingdom of Saudi, after many decades of banned cinema patronage. The interest in the movie is not a testament to its cinematic acuity or popularity in pop culture, it is more of its approach to deconstructing history and retelling the story of a continent that has survived a history of slavery, persistent underdevelopment and deliberate efforts to discredit any thing of worth or global relevance. It is not an overstretch to state that Black Panther is a rewrite by the empire. An explicit technological rebuke of colonialism, a historical dissection of artistic and natural resources carted away by a civilization that arrogates superiority of views and values, a dialectical discourse of nationalism versus globalization and disapproval of feeble-minded neocolonialism. Of great note is the empowerment of the genders, a dichotomy of loyalty as a means to a want and the fusion of technology and cultural values – a testament to the future of civilization, a balance between local values and global advancement.
Ola W Halim, the writer of “Wakandan Africa”, captures the depth of the narrative in his poem. As a seasoned and prolific artist, he understands that Black Panther is more than a scientific beatification of a black hero; as shown in his poem, Wakanda is about the history of a people, their travails in the face of prejudice and dehumanization. His poem is about the values of a people and their ability to rise above detractors and utilize their resources to build a future of their dream. The poem explores language rich in imagery and fluid fusion of alliteration, technique which foregrounds the beauty of the poem, without distracting from its content and conceit. No line is wasted, each word fits perfectly like the costume of T’Chala, creating a larger construct about the capabilities of Africa and her talents in the congress of nations. It is significant to state that Halim captures the future of a new Africa, the Wakandan Africa, the Africa that will rise up to global prominence when her sons and daughters realize that there is so much to build with her wealth and resources: “When gloom gives refuge to glories, / And time turns off her tinges, / Wakanda shall shine through shadows, / Giving the world newer nerves.”
By Ola W Halim
The West wallows Wakanda a wane
On the circuit of civilisation:
Flurries and fighters; feral,
Treading treetops, barren and blind,
Souls seeking succor sent
By bearers boosting blue banners.
Yet, in the valleys of vibranium we crouch,
Growing greens, painting pastures,
Stilling storms with silent songs;
From the heart of herbs we sip,
Standing in solidarity while building bedrocks from blues,
And forming futures from heroic heritages.
Today opens a papyrus of progress,
A roll of rebirth, as we spread
Our stars on the wild blues of the world:
Unity in her utopian robes, and science sewn of seasonings.
When gloom gives refuge to glories,
And time turns off her tinges,
Wakanda shall shine through shadows,
Giving the world newer nerves.
Ola W. Halim teaches English Language and Literature in Edo State, Nigeria. After school hours, he sits in the shade of an umbrella tree to interact with characters, ideas and settings. He is a Nigerian.
A cash Prize of #5,000 has been awarded to the winner.