It’s no exaggeration to say that Black Panther has taken the world by storm. In the week of the film’s debut, fans across the world flocked to screenings, eager to see a true representation of Africa and Africans. But Marvel’s latest superhero movie is not only important because it shows Africa as Africans know it – advanced, capable, strong – Black Panther also treats the continent’s art and cultures with respect and awe.
Set in the fictional and technologically advanced African city-state of Wakanda, Black Panther follows T’Challa, the hero, as he returns to his isolated homeland to succeed to the throne on the death of his father, the King of Wakanda. What follows is an exciting, at times moving and always gripping adventure, as mesmerising for its heartfelt acting and absorbing storyline as it is for its striking set designs, costumes and make-up.
During production, designers took inspiration from Africa’s architecture, textiles, fashion and weapons – both ancient and modern – to create Wakanda’s “Afrofuturism” – a mixing of traditional African elements with modern and futuristic features. Award-winning photographer Osborne Macharia is an artist who specialises and is renowned for Afrofuturism. As such, he was commissioned by Marvel to create an exclusive art piece to complement the Black Panther film.
Known for composite photographs that employ elements of history, science fiction and digital editing, the Kenyan photographer created a project called Ilgelunot, which means “the Chosen Ones” in the Maasai language. Ilgelunot tells the story of three elders of Maasai origin who were Black Panther’s most trusted advisors.
According to one of Osborne’s Facebook posts, it’s “A proud moment to be part of the most important Afrofuturistic movie in my generation.”
Previously, the artist has produced eye-catchingly unique photographs of persons with albinism, hip-hop grandfathers and the Kipipiri women, four warriors who helped end British rule in Kenya and who would undoubtedly find a place in T’Challa’s Wakanda.