Patrick Gathara // Commentary: ‘#BlackPanther’ offers a regressive, neocolonial vision of #Africa

‘Black Panther’ offers a regressive, neocolonial vision of Africa – Chicago Tribune – This is a vision of Africa that could only spring from the neocolonial mind. It is really telling how close a black “redemptive counter-mythology” sails to the colonial vision of a childish people needing a strong guiding hand to lead them. Despite their centuries of vibranium-induced technological advancement, the Wakandans remain so remarkably unsophisticated that a “returning” American can basically stroll in and take over, just as 19th-century Europeans did to the real Africa.

“Black Panther” may be a rare feel-good movie for black folks in America, but it should not be mistaken for an attempt at liberating Africa from Europe. Quite the opposite. Its redemptive countermythology entrenches the tropes that have been used to dehumanize Africans for centuries. The Wakandans, for all their technological progress, still cleanly fit into the Western molds, a dark people in a dark continent.

In truth, the Africa of Hollywood’s imagination is not much different from that of the Chinese one. This month, a show celebrating the Lunar New Year on the Chinese state broadcaster CCTV had a skit set in Kenya featuring a Chinese actress in blackface and fake massive buttocks, African actors in monkey costumes and hordes of other grateful blacks gushing: “I love China!”

The stereotypes are reminiscent of the 2017 runaway blockbuster “Wolf Warrior 2,” the Chinese version of the “white savior,” in which the main character, a soldier named Leng Feng, battles American mercenaries in a war-and-disease-ravaged Africa filled with infantilized, dying Africans. For many Kenyans, this is familiar territory that Hollywood has traversed for many decades with titles such as “Out of Africa” and “The Constant Gardener.”

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