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What if Black Panther's Wakanda Were Real?

Black Panther (2018) - T'Challa / Black Panther (Chadwick Boseman), N'Jadaka / Erik "Killmonger" Stevens (Michael B. Jordan)
The following is a guest post by Eliza C. of TuskPhoto.

Last year Black Panther hit theatres. It was the first feature-film by Marvel to depict a black superhero lead-protagonist, grossing more than $1.3bn worldwide.

The unique setting of the movie, based on the comic book series, is of Wakanda – a futuristic super-metropolis with an isolationist policy, cloaked to remain hidden from the outside world.
And although Black Panther is fiction, the universe it exists in is very real in the pleasure centers of our brains. We can’t help but think of interesting "what-if" questions and their answers. Using infographics from Tusk Photo for reference, here are some questions that I can’t stop thinking about and, after some research, what I think are the answers:

Would something like Wakanda have existed without vibranium? 

Lupita Nyong’o, who played Nakia in the movie, said Wakanda “is Africa if it had never been colonized”. But despite Africa’s natural wealth and resources, the continent’s geography has always held it back. Egypt could have been a major naval power if it had more trees. For the rest of the continent: Africa’s smooth coast has no natural harbors, making it difficult to harbor ships. Africa’s rivers – apart from the Nile – are typically rough and not interconnected, making intra-tribal trading very difficult.

So it is unlikely Wakanda could have existed without vibranium, at least in the present day.

Where is Wakanda?

It is never confirmed where exactly Wakanda is located, only that it’s somewhere in sub-Saharan and Eastern Africa.

But by looking at patterns in Africa’s religiosity, we can confidently rule-out large territories of the continent. Given Wakanda’s isolationist policy, Arabic and later European conquerors were allowed to enter the continent unimpeded. They brought the faiths with them. Today most Africans are either part-Christian or Muslim.

And although millions of Africans still practice traditional faiths and worship indigenous gods, they tend to be in the places where the Arabs and Europeans were spread thin. If the Wakandans escaped detection by luck, then we can speculate Wakanda to be situated somewhere in modern-day Botswana, Zimbabwe, Zambia, or Tanzania. (And, maybe even in the easternmost-provinces of the Central African Republic.)

But given how Wakandans are the masters of hiding in plain sight, it’s possible the city could be right under the nose of a foreign power.

What if the Europeans had discovered Wakanda?

In the nineteenth century, pseudo-scientific racism met most African achievements with disbelief. When the medieval walls of Great Zimbabwe were discovered, the Europeans thought it was the handiwork of the ‘lost tribes of Israel’ and could not possibly have been built by native Zimbabweans. The discovery of Wakanda would, surely, have overturned everything the Europeans thought they knew about their world. In the short term, they would have revised the racist pseudo-science books, perhaps even placing Africans before themselves as the apex of human evolution.

What if the Wakandans had had the imperial mindset?

Given their vastly superior technology, it is not unreasonable to assume complete global domination wouldn’t have been out of reach. But then, of course, is the problem of overreach. It becomes a headache, having to worry about every corner of the world – all of which would be fighting for independence.

Vibranium’s ability to domesticate and enlarge livestock – such as the giant rhinos in the film (that cannot be domesticated in real life), would only have made it easier for rival imperial powers to fall before Wakanda’s advance.

How could Wakanda manage to evade detection?

Africa is gigantic. Enormous. Modern maps just don’t do it justice. The Sahara desert alone is bigger than the USA, and despite the continent being depicted as roughly the same size as Greenland, in reality, Africa is fourteen times bigger.

Even in remote areas of Tanzania or Botswana, there are thousands of miles that stretch further than the eye can see – areas where probably no one has walked for decades.

In other words, plenty of space for a mega-metropolis to remain undiscovered.

Do you think Wakanda could exist in real life? Let us know in the comments BELOW!
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