Black Panther and the “Outsider” Concept : Are those Returning to Africa Welcomed?

There are some people of African descent who live in the diaspora that have a desire to return back home in order to connect with their roots. Especially now at a time where countries such as Nigeria despite the social and political issues going on have seen a recent resurgence which has been attracting young Nigerians living abroad to come back home to take advantages of the opportunities there. But one must question if those coming back to Africa are faced with any rejection due to the fact that those living there might view them as outsiders.

The recent Black Panther movie touched on this outsider concept through the character of Erik Killmonger, who is an American of Wakandan descent. His return home was not a welcoming one as he came to dethrone the king T’Challa who is a native Wakandan. Erik’s presence in Wakanda did not sit well with the Wakandans because they felt that since he is not from Wakanda he does not have the right to sit on the throne. The film presented this notion that Wakanda is for Wakandans only, and anyone coming from the outside will be viewed as such. But this poses a problem for those wanting to return because they are seeking to escape a place where they feel unwelcomed, only to go to a place that they consider home just to then be considered an outsider.

Wakanda was presented somewhat as a utopia with its lush and beauty, and despite the images that are presented in the media about Africa, many Africans abroad view Africa the same way, and are fully aware that the place is beautiful, and want to experience the beauty of it and the people. Many blacks in the diaspora have a romanticized view on Africa thinking that if they were to return there would be automatic acceptance from their long lost kinsman but the character of Erik Killmonger proved that this is may not be the case. From thw way he spoke, growing up in America made him significantly different from those living in Wakanda, even though they all looked the same. His experience is very similar to those who have made the choice to leave where they were born to return home, but found out that the transition was not as easy as they would have thought.

This difficult transition was displayed in Ghana when some members of the African American community chose to move to there. A right to abode law was implemented in 2000 that would help them become full citizens of Ghana. This would allow them to move with ease within the country. The skills that they were coming with were thought to have potential to greatly benefit the country, but due to poor execution of the law gaining citizenship has not been an easy process than first hoped for. Another hindrance that those returning had to face is the cultural change because many blacks in the diaspora are expecting to return to an Africa that their ancestors left centuries ago during the Atlantic slave trade, thinking that everyone back home still lives the perceived rural lifestyle, practicing their ancient customs. African nations, like most nations across the globe have adapted to new technologies , and have become just as modern as nations in the West, so when some Africans abroad return home to see that life is similar to what they left in the West, it can be disheartening for some.

The Black Panther movie has been opening up some discussion on relations between Africans at home and Africans abroad, and what the interaction is like when the two groups cross paths. There clearly is a difference due to geography and many years of separation that have even brought forth a difference in culture, but both groups are just different sides of the same coin. Even though they are different there is a possibility of relating with each other when in the same vicinity due to the fact that they all originate from the same place.


Featured image : Black Panther (2018) | Lindsay Silveira : flickr

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Best of Africa.

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