The Sunday Mail
“King T’Challa, the way he carried himself, he was the embodiment of a King.”
The character played by Chadwick Boseman in Marvel’s 2018 film “Black Panther” has left a lasting impact on young black people. Boseman died on August 28 aged 43 after battling colon cancer for four years — prompting floods of tributes for Boseman the man, as well as the character he became synonymous with.
There are numerous reasons both are so loved.
“The fact that he was actually African — and had an African accent — was another reason for me to be proud of where I am from: to be black, to be African,” Andrew O’Day tells Radio 1 Newsbeat about King T’Challa.
‘We are so much more
than starving people’
The 28-year-old says T’Challa was “like a mirror” for young black people in the United Kingdom.
“You could see yourself in him. A lot of our parents were born in Africa, so there is a deeper connection to King T’Challa.”
As the film’s director Ryan Coogler put it, “the ancestors spoke through him”.
Aharoun-Jordan Adeniyan agrees and says T’Challa had “a sense of regality”.
“It is amazing to see an African portrayal of royalty. Not a scammer or something negative that you so often see. Seeing that reminded me and showcased to the world that we are so much more than starving people.”
“Black Panther” broke from the “stereotypes people like to show” about black people, Aharoun says.
“We are so much more than people see generally. The movie goes to show just how much representation matters and the power of positive representation.”
The film inspired Aharoun to “want to tell black stories”. Both he and Andrew say “Black Panther’s relatability made it stand out.
“‘Captain America’ and ‘Iron Man’ have always been my favourite Avengers, but there is a certain connection that you get with ‘Black Panther’ as a black Brit that you will not get with the others,” Andrew says. “We did not grow up with black superheroes.”
He enjoyed the film so much he paid to see it three times when it came out, while Aharoun says it was the best “cinema experience” he is ever had. He felt “in sync”.
“All the jokes landed, the references landed. I re-watched it yesterday to take him in again. And it holds up, it is so wonderful. It was made with love and you can feel that.”
The fictional nation of Wakanda, where the film is set, played a key part.
“They encompassed the whole of Africa so it did not really matter where you were from as a black person,” Andrew says.
“Whether you are Nigerian, South Africa, Kenyan, Ghanaian, you can see a piece of your culture in the film.”
‘A real-life black superhero’
Aharoun is an aspiring screenplay writer — but Boseman will influence more than just his art.
“I remember him visiting children who were terminal with cancer. It is haunting to think how much he was going through and still thinking about other people. That nature of serving others is something I will take on even more.”
He hopes Boseman’s example of being authentic — which he showed in “Black Panther” — inspires people to do the same.
“Especially in a world which wants them to minimise themselves. Learning about how he passed, and his fight with cancer, has made me realise that he really was a real-life black superhero.”
Danai Gurira’s tribute
Danai Gurira shared a moving tribute to her “Black Panther” co-star Boseman on social media Sunday, soon after the actor passed on. Gurira played Dora Milaje member Okoye, special guard to Boseman’s King T’Challa.
“How do you honour a king?” she began the post.
“I always marvelled at how special Chadwick was. Such a pure hearted, profoundly generous, regal, fun guy,” Gurira wrote on her Twitter account.
“My entire job as Okoye was to respect and protect a king. Honour his leadership. Chadwick made that job profoundly easy. He was the epitome of kindness, elegance, diligence and grace.”
Gurira called Boseman “a true class act” who was “so perfectly equipped to take on the responsibility of leading the franchise that changed everything for Black representation.”
Gurira finished the moving tribute by writing, “Lala Ngoxolo Kumkani,” which translates to “Sleep/rest in peace, King.” — bbc.com/marieclaire.com