One of the most brilliant characters coming out of the Blackpanther movie, Michael B Jordan who is also identified as Mr Killmonger has received a lot of well-deserved attention for both his acting and cultural significance of his role.
While we identify with Mr Killmonger, his voice alone cannot define African and African-American relations. In trying to understand contexts without regard for events in African and African-American relational past.
When Dr King, Dubois, Malcolm X, Maya Angelou and other leading African-american leaders, activists and scholars visited and spent some time in Africa in the 60’s, they were well received. Some of their visits, and in Maya Angelou’s case, stay, became the basis on which some African countries initiated policies to enhance the visit and in the long term, return of African-Americans to the continent.
Many African-American leaders and even aunties and uncles I’ve interacted with have a good understanding of the strategies of colonial masters, so I think a lot of the conversations began with empathy, support, and even strategizing towards liberation. Think of the support Nkrumah received during the Ghanaian fight for independence, an event that happened without much bloodshed, and that happened more as an intellectual back and forth.
Think also of Dubois’ contribution to the shaping of the African Union, then the (Organisation of African unity), Pan-Africanism all the way through him moving back to Ghana, staying there in his own home in Accra, till his eventual death there.
I think our leaders in the past listened to each other, and worked together towards liberation more than we realize it. I like Mr Killmonger, and I feel he represents a voice in the African-American sphere, but I think we can’t overlook the real partnerships that have existed in the past between Africans and African-Americans to achieve liberation.
If anything, now is the time to work towards re-connecting, re-discussing, re-uniting, and fighting for our common liberation. Killmonger represents a section of the feelings and thoughts that cannot be overlooked in the diaspora and even at home on the continent, but his voice alone shouldn’t be interpreted as the defining voice of African/African-American relations.
As strongly as his voice might sound for a younger generation of African-Americans, we need to understand that Africans and African-Americans have succeeded in working together in the past, and must continue to work to figure out a way to do that as well in the future, because the circumstances of black people around the world was not created in a vacuum.
Written by Ishmael Osekre.