Ken swore as the phone call he was trying to make got disconnected. He didn’t have enough airtime to make the call, was what the annoying voice from the operator said. He quickly bought some and redialed Brian’s number. He hadn’t seen him in forever and was hoping they could attend the Black Panther premiere together the following week. Ken was a huge comic book fan, and the only person who could match his love for them was Brian.

Brian picked up the phone after it rang so long Ken thought he might not answer.

“Ken!” he exclaimed. “What a pleasant surprise!”

“I’m glad to hear it’s a pleasant one,” Ken said. “It’s been way too long since we talked.”

“Yes it has. My apologies for that, I get forgetful sometimes and don’t keep up with people like I should. I’m working on it.”

“I think we all are Brian, no need to apologise. How are you?”

“I’m doing well, thanks for asking. I’ve been busy with this manuscript I’ve been trying to finish by the end of the month, so that had me lost in my own world. I’ve been spending a lot of days at my desk staring at my laptop.”

“Sounds like you could use a break and some fresh air.”

“I definitely could.”

“You’re in luck. I have two tickets to the new Black Panther this weekend. Are you interested?”

“I would be, but I’m not sure I like Black Panther all that much.”

“Really? Why? You used to be super into comics and stuff.”

“I still am, I’m just not sure about the whole Black Panther thing.”

“Why’s that?”

“I’m not sure if it’s an accurate representation of Africa. Sure it looks cool and all, but it isn’t very real.”

“Isn’t that sort of the point? I mean, it is a fictional country after all.”

“Yeah but it’s been made into this movement for black people and Africans, which is good, but I’m not sure I agree with it.”

“Brian, aren’t you a black African?”

“Yes indeed I am.”

“Then how could you not agree with it becoming a movement?”

“Because the representation of it isn’t real. And it’s not being done by Africans for Africans either. It’s a foreign depiction of what Africa could be. I don’t think I want to support that.”

“Does it matter who’s doing it though? If the depiction is positive, why does all that matter?”

“It matters because Africans need to own being African. They need to own their art and their culture. It’s nice that other people think it’s interesting enough to make art out of, but at the end of the day it’s still a foreign product.”

“That’s all good and all, but we also need our art and our culture to be recognized outside Africa,” Ken said. “Africans have been producing art for ages, but we’re only now getting worldwide recognition. I think films like Black Panther have something to do with that.”

“Maybe so, but that doesn’t take away from the fact that the film isn’t really ours.”

“I’m not saying that it does, nor am I saying that it doesn’t. But it gets the art and the people out there. It gets people into African art and culture. It lets people know that Africans, and black people in general, can make beautiful and high-quality art. It makes it less of a novelty and more normal, so that hopefully it happens more often in the future and so that art by Africans can get more recognition.”

“That’s all very nice, but now that the art getting a lot of recognition is being done largely by foreigners, won’t we then be at their mercy? Won’t they dictate what kind of art we produce?”

“Maybe, maybe not. They are at the end of the day looking for profits, so they’ll push for art that can make money and the more money it can make them, the better. That’s a downside for sure because good art may not get the support it deserves because it might not make money. But at least there will be more of an opportunity for art made by Africans to be made and for it to get more recognition.”

“You have a point, but I still don’t like that it isn’t ours, that it’s someone else’s idea of what Africa is or could be.”

“I get that. Hopefully someday soon we’ll be able to do it ourselves.”

“I hope so.”

“So will you come watch the movie with me?”

“I might as well, especially since you’re paying.”