By Sola Ogunbiyi
The Igbo people from Eastern Nigeria have four market days namely:
In Igbo, ‘Oko’ means a man, ‘Orie or Oye’, means a market day, so ‘Okoye’ means a man/boy born on Orie market day. Technically, Okoye is a man’s name, but a different refreshing insight was given to a female character in Marvel’s Black Panther movie.
The Dora Milaje are the female warriors of Wakanda (which is another refreshing insight to the stereotype of male warriors), but more importantly, they are incredibly strong and powerful women. They are fully feminine and don’t need weaves to look beautiful. They are fully fierce and don’t need a man to save them.
In Wakanda, the women are allowed to exude their full potential and power and be all they can be and men are not threatened by it; for example, the character Shuri, played by Letitia Wright, a Guyanese-British actress, is a tech/scientist genius. Wakanda literally changed the narrative of the African woman.
Okoye, played by Danai Gurira; a Zimbabwean-American actress, exhibits every form of a female superhero: she protects her King, you can even call her over-protective, she threatened someone who brushed his shoulder, she is loyal to the throne and her people – even when the protagonist had a falling out, she remained true to the throne. Even when it hurt her so deeply, she was willing to die for her country. She is strong, smart, she respects her king and her man, (oh, yeah, she has a man) Okoye is the total package of an African female superhero.
Although Wakanda depicts a futuristic era, it portrays numerous truths about our cultures, languages, and styles as Africans. Who says we have to wait for the ‘future’ for women to exhibit their full potential? Who says women can’t be fierce and simultaneously feminine? Who says we can’t change our narrative? If Black Panther can change the narrative of African history, then you reading this, can change your narrative. There’s literally no time to wait for the ‘future’! The time is now! You and I have a voice…
‘Don’t be voiceless when you have had the privilege of being educated
You can only become voiceless by choice.
You must not make that choice’
– Oby Ezekwesili
Like Oby Ezekwesili said: the choice begins with you; create your own refreshing insight to the status quo and stereotypes. We can bring about the change we crave and require, if we all channel our voices and transform the narrative.
So yeah, call me Okoye!