The worldwide “Black Panther” phenomenon has charged people across the globe to redefine their beliefs on “Mama” Africa, including its cultural beauty, historical impact and overall legacy.
Spearheading a movement centered around the reunification of the continent and the need for integration among people of African descent, the African Union DC Mission launched on Monday, March 5 its “Africa Talks” town hall series, featuring Arikana Chihombori-Quao, African Union Ambassador to the U.S., international recording artist Akon and author Jesse J. Holland, who wrote an accompanying novel for the blockbuster “Black Panther” film.
“I’ve seen this movie three times and I still get chills whenever I just see the trailer,” Holland said. “That is how powerful the movie and the story of the Black Panther is right now. From the people we see onscreen to the background of Africa, it’s primal in us, it sends chills down our spines. I am so glad that Marvel chose me to tell this story, so that when people leave the theater, they can go back and read about Wakanda.
“But even more important, if you were able to see the film during opening weekend, you could see the pride on the faces of the people watching a story that was written about them and that is something that we rarely see as African Americans,” he said. “We are always a part of someone else’s story and not our own and that’s what ‘Black Panther’ is doing for us. This movie has done more for the image of Africa than we have seen in years and has proven our [Black Americans] yearning to be closer to ‘Mama Africa.’”
Akon shared some of his own personal experiences as both an African and African American, highlighting the strength in working together.
“In order to be strong, it takes more than one,” Akon said. “Africa is a hundred times bigger than the United States, but it is divided. … And then you wonder why the strengths of the continent are not parallel. When you talk about unity it clearly shows you that [unity] is what will create the strength moving forward. In helping Africa, we are then also helping others, because Africa is the motherland of the world.
“I was privileged enough to have two African parents growing up, but I was raised in the United States … so I was blessed to come from two cultures and I understand the need to bridge that [African Diaspora] gap,” he said. “The only way to make a change is if we all work together. We have everything it takes to create a great future for our children, but we have to be prepared mentally.”
Closing out the discussion, Chihombori-Quao encouraged people to really begin to participate in the African Union.
“We are putting together so many programs within the AU including beginning to register people within the African Diaspora Investment Fund,” Chihombori-Quao said. “A a diaspora, you must own a piece of your Africa. We will come together and create jobs within ourselves. We as a Black people are very wealthy and we don’t need aid from others anymore.”