This poem is in response to a challenge by fellow Northampton poet Justin Thyme and it’s inspired by the land of Wakanda in Africa.
Wakanda is a fictional country in the MCU and the setting of Black Panther, a superhero film that has lots to say about postcolonialism.
This is a long one, so buckle up…
If you turn on any western news programme today, you’ll see stories of a poor Africa. A continent of poverty, disease and famine but it isn’t so. There’s rich Black folk there, living it large and I’m not talking about the men in Nigeria in their big houses.
Let’s go to the land of Wakanda where there were no terrible big boats, there were no white men taking slaves and telling Blacks how to behave.
But there were tribes tripping on each other, fighting one another for the crown of the greatest kingdom on earth, the land of Wakanda.
At the same time, the Black folks in the Americas who were free were mating with local tribes like the Amerindians and the Cherokee.
But Wakanda is true Africa, free from the whip, colonial quips, also the legacy of European slave ships. Do you understand?
And as a result, Wakanda is a land of every shade. From light skin to dark skin, no room for colourism to carry on with its colour chart sin bin.
Not like in Europe and America, in this day and age who put light skin on a pedestal and treat dark-skinned women like the cargo that came through Liverpool.
Wakanda got no time for diaspora rules; British, American, Dutch, French. It doesn’t matter. Black is black, Killmonger is on the right track.
He knew that the African was the first on the scene and him being from across the water did not mean he was any worse or better than his brethren.
Through the migration of his father, his culture started to change and rearrange like the slaves who had to adapt to the West Indies and England.
So really, if we’re going to go all the way back, and I mean it. Then Adam and Eve may well have been black which kind of means that everyone on Earth is an African. Everybody is Wakandan. Even Mr Coloniser and the Christian slavers. Imagine that!
So if everyone is an African something, even the Indians and their caste system. They’re African Indians and so on. And the origin of humanity is with the African.
And if one drop of Black blood makes you Black like people say, than everyone’s Wakandan anyway.
Yet, I’m not colour-blind. I’ve got White friends. I’ve got Asian friends but I bet if they gander through their family tree far enough. Perhaps they might find an ancestor that looks like King T’Challa in handcuffs.
However, I’m not trying to change your identity. You all already been born and raised in different nations, some thanks to the devastation of diaspora and colonisation.
I was born British but I tick Other. I’m Black. Born in England. West Indian grandparents on both sides, look wider and I’d have been an African. Dare I say Wakandan, had Africa been allowed to realise itself?
And not been made to sit on the colonisers’ shelf. At ten years old, I was called nigger. In America they say that too. They say Negro as well but those slurs for slurs’ sake have vanished (kind of) and Negro is just how you say black in Spanish.
I’m not a nigger, I’m a man. And it seems we’re back in a time when even Black people can’t get along because we’ve been brainwashed into thinking that our skin colour is wrong.
And then Black Panther came showing us to be good. Where we fought each other but there was democracy among the peoples of Wakanda where we walked with purpose and Black was beautiful.
And I’ve even been criticised for celebrating my colour. How about 800 years of White history? That Euro-centric UK curriculum. #JustSaying.
Who even comes up with this stuff anyway?
Was it just a few guys feeling insecure so they decided to create all this racial rhetoric? So they thought African-American and Black Briton sounded a bit more exotic.
Labels make people feel euphoric. Kind of like how Lenny Henry was the only Black man allowed on British television in the 80s. There can only be one! And there’s BAFTA! (Black Britons eff off to America).
And as a result, a lot of Black British artists ended up broke. And that is why we needed Black Panther, as Wakanda represented us all, not just America as is the norm for the mainstream.
People who look like me doing things that are often attributed to Mr Coloniser. Sounds about white and I know there are some people here who recently moved from Grenada and Ghana and Gambia – and Ireland and Holland and America – and Brazil and Benin and India.
But not the peoples whose family lived in the country for generations (I’m only the second of mine) but the people who are from various locations. We’re from everywhere. If you follow the epic wingspan of genealogy, you’ll find your very own Cheddar Man.
Your heritage and history is in the country you’re in, not just your melanin. But it’s also out there in the world. And I’m ready to leave England, but it’s also my home. It’s a leader in oppression and suffering and grieving.
But they must be doing something right, because there’s so many coming and so few leaving. And if you go to Africa in search of your essence, you’ll find breadcrumbs, traces and no pure races.
I love being Black but I’ve never been to Africa. I know Britain better than the country of my ancestors. I’ve never seen Bunce Island or Elmina or Freetown.
What if colonisation didn’t happen? What if there was no slavery? That’s my Africa. Untainted and pure, able to realise itself. Wakanda Forever.
We’ve all just changed so much; many thanks to diaspora and migration it’s no mystery, because we all share a little Black History.