The Women of Wakanda

By the time you are reading this, you are probably thinking it is stale already … you are absolutely right, but read it anyways.

I was obsessed … scratch that … I am completely obsessed with Black Panther.

I knew so much about the movie before I finally saw it and when I did – either times (I saw it twice) – it was like I was watching it all over again. There is just so much to see, at least, in my opinion.

While flying kings, the Vibranium being a panacea and revisiting the ancestors to have a conversation are very strange to me, there were other themes that resonated with me.

One particular theme that struck home was the gender issues … The women of Wakanda.

Wakanda is my ideal society, a society where both women and men are powerful and it is not a problem, where gender disparity is not visible as they were all just HUMANS who care so much for their country, a society that is not concerned about gender roles. My ideal society!

Wakanda, though fictitious, has shown us that this kind of society is possible. I want to be Wakandan, I don’t know about you, but it appeals strongly to me. Being a woman in Wakanda is awesome.

We have the Queen Mother, a woman whose influence is obviously felt in the kingdom. She sits among the council of elders and lends her voice, like the men, to issues concerning the kingdom.

No, she is not sitting in the palace and being the stereotypical queen. She has a say and nobody is threatened by it.

In fact, it comes naturally to the men of Wakanda that a woman should have a say. It is not strange to them, nor are they threatened by it. They know it doesn’t diminish their power.

Amazingly, she is a woman of love as well. She talks about sitting with her late husband talking about the day her son will be crowned king. That seems to me like a woman who has intimate discussion with her husband. Her position as a powerful woman does not reduce her ability to be a loving wife.

We can see her nurturing heart as a mother when her son “died.” She cried for her son and also boldly called him back from the dead with the heart-shaped herb when she got to him. She was emotional and strong all in one breath.

It is obvious she is also an observant mother, which can only come from actually spending time with her kids. She knew even without turning that Shuri was giving her brother the middle finger and quickly called her back to order, showing her disciplinary side as well.

I see a great woman, well-rounded, defying the expectations of society for women.

“Oh, career women can’t be great mothers … they make bad wives.”

The Queen Mother is proof that strong women can be nurturing mothers and loving wives as well. No, those qualities are not mutually exclusive.

Okoye and Nakia are definitely the two women after my heart: one, a general and the other a spy, both strong, independent and loyal even though their approaches are different.

Oh no, they are not enemies, they are not busy bickering and pulling each other’s hair out. They are just two women who saw things differently.

They are two women who loved as well … destroying the notion that strong women can’t have men in their lives and obviously these men don’t see a problem with their strength because they are strong and secure men, and not weak men.

They love their men … But what amazes me is they did not run with the stereotypical “a woman can do anything to have a man in her life.”

Nakia was ready NOT to be queen because of a higher calling.

Wow!

I thought all a woman wanted was money and she forgot everything when she met a man ready to spoil her with some. But here is Nakia refusing to be queen for a cause she believed in.

My favourite part of the movie was probably where all the tribes were at battle against the border tribe and at a point, W’kabi asked Okoye, “will you kill me, my love?

And without hesitation, she said, “for Wakanda? Without question!”

I almost jumped out of my seat in glee, but for the fact that I was in public.

Such loyalty … Such strength … Such independence … No, it’s not something a patriarchal society will associate with a woman.

Women are weak and without strength of character, they can’t make tough decisions, they are too emotional, they say.

Where they get that from, I have no idea.

But here comes Ryan Coogler … My hero now … to say, “you know what? Y’all are wrong.”

He gave us strong women, ready to die for their country; in love with their men but will not lose themselves over it. No, they will not get emotional when that man betrays the kingdom.

Their loyalty is unquestionable.

Then we have Princess Shuri, my sweetheart. An intelligent scientist, whose brother didn’t mind allowing to shine in that field. He accepted his ability and her ability without any conflict.

Even Mbaku from the mountains was more concerned about her age than her gender.

And when it was time to fight for Wakanda, boy, did she step up?

There was no doubt in her mind of helping her brother get on the throne … it was automatic. She won’t contest for the throne, she loves her brother too much and she is satisfied in the lab.

Wakanda has shown us how it can be.  It is left for us to heed. Society has messed up our head for too long. Gender dichotomy is a myth beyond the physical.

We can all be powerful … we can all have it.

That is what Wakanda means to me and taking a cue from Chimamanda Adichie, I say, “we should all be Wakandans.”

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