I bet you didn’t know that a language native to Nigeria was featured in the blockbuster movie Black Panther.
Nsibidi, a pre-15th Century language that uses symbols to communicate, rather than sounds or words, is primarily used by the Ekpe secret society found across Cross River among the Ekoi, Efik, and some nearby Igbo speaking areas in South-south and South-East Nigeria. The language has been in existence for more than seven centuries (700 years)
The traditional symbols of Nsibidi appear inscribed on the large columns in the Throne room, where T’Challa/Black Panther (Chadwick Boseman) sits. The ancient symbols were also updated by the movie’s production designer, Hannah Beachler, and used in other parts of the movie. The entire linguistic project took six whole months! Wow! In her words, “It was a process of trying to pay homage to lost languages, but also infusing the idea of Afrofuturism of reclaiming languages lost.”
So, the next time you see the movie and see those aesthetic looking symbols, remember that they are not just art, but a Nigerian language, perhaps much older than anyone you know.
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