The 2018 Marvel movie Black Panther featured an advanced yet isolated African kingdom called Wakanda which is the birthplace of the titular superhero character, T’Challa, who is its King. Wakanda is powered by vibranium, one of those rare yet powerful imaginary elements favored by comic writers. Vibranium is both a blessing and a curse: blessing, because Wakanda owes its prosperity to it, and curse, because everyone else in the world wants it.
In the movie the country’s capitol lies in a green, jungled valley, a place of skyscrapers, eco-friendly tiered parks, abundant vegetation, and waterfalls. Exactly where it is, in Africa, is a harder to figure out. The original conception of Wakanda in the comics showed it as being in West Africa, on the coast, as pictured in the top illustration — the rough vicinity of Equatorial Guinea. But later depictions show it in East Africa, in the Ethopian highlands. Wherever it is, it’s a stunning vision of an Africa that never experienced colonialism or slavery.
The name Wakanda itself sounds African, calling to mind words like Watusi and Wanangwa. But Black Panther creator Jack Kirby may also have derived it from Native American mythology, a twist on the word Wah-kon-tah, meaning all that is right and good. The Lakota word for “Great Spirit” — Wakan Tanka — is similar.
In the comics Wakanda had a number of neighbors: Niganda, Ghudaza, Zwartheid, Rudyarda, Mohannda, Narobia. Is it possible there are more?
Imaginary African Nations