On the Black Panther

Why Do We Still Have Problems with Our Identity and History?

A short essay on aspects of the movie: Black Panther that is causing so much noise among ‘Christians’, especially those from Africa and African descent.

If you have seen the movie Black Panther and are concerned or perhaps embarrassed about the ritual practises in some of the scenes, I need you to know and understand that they are not primarily an African construct, but rather, a global phenomenon.

The Romans, Greeks and other known civilisations practised Ancestral and Hero Worship. In fact theologians argue that Jesus became God when the faith was embraced by Hellenist Jews (Greeks of Jewish ancestry).

Other than ancestral worship which is a slightly different concept, for one to be recognised as a Hero, one must have displayed uncommon bravery; or led a life of high moral virtues or wisdom; or died in an unusual manner. As well as the Virgin Birth, miracles and Resurrection, all three criteria seats well with the life of Jesus. One could in fact argue that the incident on the Mount of Configuration was Hero Worship, demonstrated in the fact that both characters (Moses and Elijah) had died, and the disciples sought to build an abode at the location.

Scholars argue that these elements in the telling of Jesus’ story by his followers led Jewish authorities to excommunicate ‘Christians’ from Synagogues not long after the death of Jesus, leading to the branching away of ‘Christianity’ from Judaism. Clearly, Jesus was a Jew who practised Judaism and had no intention of setting up a new faith, let alone Christianity.

The Elders took a stand against ancestral and Hero Worship after The Exile in their bid to unite the commonwealth under one God, and one covenant. Hence they incorporated stories like the Witch of Endor (1 Sam. 28:3–25), and other references in Deuteronomy as deterrent against such practises.

The messianic concept is one which has evolved over time in Judaism, taking different shapes or forms, crystallising with the idea of the messiah being Jesus, and Jesus being God by the disciples; hence the Jews still have major problems with Christianity. The Catholic Church still practices Hero Worship, as such we have Mary and the Saints as mediators between humankind and God. In fact the idea of partaking in the body and blood of Jesus is as ‘pagan’ as it gets. Yet we do this every other Sunday with joy because of our belief and perception.

I say this not necessarily to promote ancestral or Hero worship, but to encourage us to constantly educate ourselves. To emancipate the minds of Africans. For us to know that for too long our culture and traditions has been tarnished through successive campaigns such as slavery, colonialism, neo-colonialism and other imperialist ideologies. To a point where anything African is met with disdain, mediocrity, darkness and embarrassment.

Our consciousness and identity is a core part of our psyche. So, if our history brings us shame or embarrassment, then I’m afraid we will never harness or truly maximise our true potentials.

Even descendants of those who ravished and raped the continent still walk today with a sense of identity and pride. Some show remorse, others can not be bothered.

But how come we still have problems with our identity and history?


The Words of Our Elders: C S Lewis (1898–1963)

The man who is contented to be only himself, and therefore less a self, is in prison. My own eyes are not enough for me, I will see through those of others. Reality, even seen through the eyes of many, is not enough. I will see what others have invented …. in reading great literature I become a thousand men and yet remain myself. Like the night sky in the Greek poem, I see with a myriad eyes, but it is still I who see. Here, as in worship, in love, in moral action, and in knowing, I transcend myself; and am never more myself than when I do.

~ C S Lewis

The words of our elders, are words of wisdom.