Although Black Panther was a pillar of Marvel Comics for decades, it wasn’t until the Chadwick Boseman-led MCU movie hit the screens that the Black Panther actually became a household name around the world. And while Marvel is preparing another Black Panther movie for us, we have decided to introduce you to his home country – Wakanda! Is Wakanda a real place in Africa or is it based on some real country on the continent?
The Kingdom of Wakanda is a fictional country in East Africa present in the Marvel universe of the Marvel Comics publishing house. Created by writer Stan Lee and artist Jack Kirby, this country first appeared in Fantastic Four #52 in July 1966. Located in sub-Saharan Africa, west of Ethiopia and north of Kenya, this small kingdom is particularly known for having a natural deposit of vibranium as well as for its ruler, the Black Panther.
The rest of this article is going to tell you everything you need to know about Wakanda. We are going to tell you about its location, its origins, and the real-life inspirations that helped make it what it is. We’re also going to give you some additional information about the country and its structure so you’re going to get a very thorough and comprehensive guide.
Is Wakanda a real place in Africa? Which countries is it based on?
Some materials put Wakanda north of Tanzania and precisely in Rwanda, while others – such as the Marvel Atlas #2 – place it at the northern end of Lake Turkana, between South Sudan, Uganda, Kenya, and Ethiopia (and surrounded by fictional countries like Azania, Canaan, and Narobia). Film director Ryan Coogler explained that the southern African Kingdom of Lesotho inspired his portrayal of Wakanda in the 2018 film Black Panther.
In the more recent stories by writer Ta-Nehisi Coates, Wakanda is located on Lake Victoria near the other fictional nations of Mohannda, Canaan, Azania, and Niganda. This puts these nations primarily in the eastern half of the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
Birnin Zana, which some consider a smart city, is located in Wakanda. In Birnin Zana, pedestrians walk along streets filled with shops, which are off-limits to cars except for the occasional shuttle (bus type). The whole thing is very similar to the Woonerf concept, an approach to public space design that began in the Netherlands in the 1970s.
Maglev trains can be seen whizzing above and around the city. Wakandan buildings incorporate traditional African elements (such as thatched roofs and hanging gardens) on some of the tallest buildings. All of this actually confirms two things – one, that Wakanda is a purely fictional country, and two, that it was inspired by several different African countries and traditions, based on the source and the story.
How and when was Wakanda founded?
Prior to the emergence of the Wakandan nation, the country’s mythology speaks of the mystical beings known as the “Originators”, expelled from the region by the Orishas, Wakanda’s pantheon consisting of the gods Thoth, Ptah, Mujaji, Kokou and Bast the panther goddess. Wakanda’s royal line begins with Bashenga, believed to be the country’s third prince and the first Black Panther, 10,000 years before T’Challa.
In the distant history of the kingdom, a huge meteorite crashed into the future Wakanda and caused the occurrence of a unique substance, which would later become vibranium. Wakandans will gradually learn to use this metal to forge their weapons. But vibranium will also turn out to have strong mutagenic properties that will turn some men into monsters.
Captain America’s shield (modern era) is made partly of vibranium from Wakanda. Surrounded by mountains, Wakanda’s borders have been carefully guarded over the past two centuries, and any attempt at invasion has been repelled. Until recent years, the country was so isolated that most people on Earth were unaware of its existence.
When reports of the presence of vibranium in Wakanda began to spread during World War II, King T’Chaka made a deal with Captain America (Steve Rogers), providing him with a sample of vibranium—which would soon be used. after by American metallurgist Myron MacLain to form the Captain’s round shield.
A few years later, T’Chaka makes the fatal mistake of allying himself with the Dutch criminal Ulysses Klaw. The latter assassinates him and enslaves the Wakandans. As Klaw plunders the country’s vibranium resources, young Prince T’Challa rounds up Wakandan warriors and drives him out of the kingdom.
As an adult, T’Challa becomes the new Black Panther and opens his country to the outside world, despite opposition from some Wakandans. The Wakanda parliament is made up of eighteen different tribes. T’Challa, to maintain national peace, has long maintained the tradition of “Dora Milaje”, choosing women from each tribe as potential concubines. He will eventually marry a “stranger”, Ororo Munroe (aka Tornado of the X-Men) who then becomes the queen of Wakanda, which will cause tension in the country.
Does Wakanda function like a real country?
The Kingdom of Wakanda is a member of the African Union (formerly the Organization of African Unity), the Pan-African Congress on the Treatment of Superhumans, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) and the United Nations World Health Organization (WHO). It is also allied with South Africa, Attilan, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Dakénie, France, and the Wild Land.
The country has strongly supported its allies in a technological way, in particular the superhero teams the Fantastic Four, the Avengers, the X-Men or even the S.H.I.E.L.D. Even if Wakanda has never been “officially” at war, the country has difficult relations with, in particular, Atlantis, Azania, Canaan, Canada, the United States, Genosha, Ghudaza, Kenya, Latveria, the Lemuria of the Deviants, Mohannda, Narobia, Niganda or even Rudyardia. Abroad, Wakanda’s intentions are often misunderstood by other nations.
In other aspects, Wakanda surely has one of the strongest armies in the world, measures having been taken to hide its true military power, to avoid aggressive reactions from other nations. The country has specialized forces such as the Panther Guard (or the “Panther Pack”), the “Hatut Zeraze” (or “War Dogs”) unit which formed the country’s “officially” disbanded secret police, or even the “Dora Milaje”, the king’s personal guard.
Many countries and organizations have always had ideas to conquer Wakanda, for its main resource: vibranium. The criminal Ulysses Klaw has thus mounted multiple invasion attempts, as have the AIM, the Nazis, the alchemist Diablo (Esteban De Ablo), Moïse Magnum, the Master of Evolution, or even the Roxxon Oil Company.
Wakanda’s military strength is on full display during the Skrulls’ invasion of Earth. Forewarned of alien infiltration, King T’Challa hatches a battle plan which he quickly puts into action when the Skrull Commander, K’vvr, leads his fleet against Wakanda. T’Challa and Tornado are then at the head of the Wakandan army on the battlefield.
They manage to sneak aboard K’vvr’s ship and kill him and his top lieutenants as the Wakandans destroy the other Skrulls. T’Challa then sends away the alien ships filled with Skrull corpses, as a warning to anyone who would once again conquer Wakanda. After an interview with Namor, T’Challa is seriously injured by Doctor Doom.
His sister Shuri then takes up the mantle of the Black Panther to save Wakanda from the Morlun threat, while Storm and Ramonda (T’Challa’s mother-in-law) take care of T’Challa’s care. With the help of the God-Panther, Morlun is finally defeated and T’Challa is saved. Doctor Doom then takes advantage of these events that weaken Wakanda and mounts a coup.
T’Challa and Shuri call on all of their allies (Namor, the X-Men and the Fantastic Four) to repel the assaults of the ruler of Latveria. At the cost of a huge sacrifice (T’Challa makes the vibranium completely inactive), Wakanda regains its independence and T’Challa returns to the throne.
What languages are spoken in Wakanda?
In the comics, Wakanda has three official languages: Wakandan, Yoruba, and Hausa. In the Marvel Cinematic Universe, characters from Wakanda are depicted speaking the Xhosa language of South East Africa. The Jabari tribe is depicted speaking a dialect similar to Nigeria’s Igbo.
What are Wakanda’s cults based on?
Wakanda contains a number of religious cults from various places in Africa. The Pantheon of Wakanda is known as the Orishas; orisha is a Yoruba word meaning “spirit” or “divinity”. It includes deities such as Bast, the Panther Goddess, Thoth, god of the moon and wisdom, and Ptah; the Shaper are Egyptian deities, who left ancient Egypt in the time of the pharaohs.
Kokou is an Orisha warrior from Benin, while Mujaji is a rain goddess from the Lovedu people of South Africa. Other deities are worshiped in Wakanda, such as Sekhmet and Sobek, as well as other Helipolitan deities, and the gorilla gods Ghekre and Ngi, worshiped by the Jabari tribe.