Next week marks the release of a new documentary about King T’Challa, ruler of Wakanda. Here is what you should know about the mysterious African nation:
1. Wakanda, officially known as the Kingdom of Wakanda, is a small nation in northeast Africa. For centuries they remained in isolation from the world community. But since establishing diplomatic relations with the rest of the globe, they are now considered the most technologically advanced nation on the planet. The seat of government and the Royal Palace are located in the capital city of Birnin Zana.
2. The major languages spoken in Wakanda are Wakandan, Yoruba, and Hausa. Because of their advanced educational system, though, Wakandans also speak several African and European languages, including English, German, and Latin.
3. Wakanda is rich in natural resources, including coal, oil, uranium, and diamonds. However, despite having some of the largest oil deposits in the world, the country doesn’t even bother to extract it. Instead, they rely on alternative energy sources such as solar and hydrogen. To avoid the “Dutch disease,” the Wakandans have diversified their wealth by investing in emerging economies. Currently, they have national reserves equivalent to trillions of U.S. dollars.
4. The country’s most valuable natural resource and the source for many of their technological advances is Wankandan Vibranium. This type of Vibranium, found only in Wakanda, can absorb vibratory or kinetic energy, making it exceedingly difficult to destroy. Vibranium is sold for $10,000 per gram. Wakanda’s sacred mound is estimated to have about 10,000 metric tons of the material, making the country’s Vibranium resources alone worth approximately a quadrillion dollars.
5. Wakandans have historically been the most advanced nation on earth in science and technology. Their scientists visualized the atom a full century earlier than Western scientists, and they have developed computer systems that are nearly unhackable. They’ve also developed an advanced, Vibranium-based communications technology called Kimoyo Beads, which are worn like a bracelet. The beads can be used to track a person’s health, access online data and display it via hologram, and communicate with others wearing Kimoyo Beads.
6. Wakanda is an advanced military power with a formidable army, navy, and air guard. Over the years, Wakanda has been attacked by French, English, Belgian, and Islamic invaders, yet in its entire history the nation has never been captured by enemy forces. The Wakandans also have extensive intelligence resources that have been described as being “as good as the Mossad” and “certainly better than the C.I.A.”
7. The Wakandan religious system is based on cults tied to African gods known as the Ennead. The religious traditions include the Hyena Clan, Crocodile Cult, Lion Cult, the now outlawed White Gorilla Cult, and the Panther Cult. The Panther Cult is the state religion of Wakanda.
8. The king and royal family of Wakanda are protected by a group of female bodyguards known as the Dora Milaje (“adored ones”). Originally, the Dora Milaje were taken from every tribe and considered potential queens for an unmarried king. Today, they are highly trained security agents—a cross between U.S. Secret Service agents and the Navy SEALs.
9. Although the royal lineage is hereditary, to become king a person has to pass a series of tests that are so arduous that only candidates who have had special training from childhood can qualify. Yet despite being an absolute monarchy, the Wakandans have a meritocratic approach to royalty. Once a year, there’s a day when any Wakandan can challenge the king for the throne. Part of the test includes besting the king in single hand-to-hand combat.
10. The current king of Wakanda is T’Challa, son of T’Chaka. T’Challa is not only ruler of the kingdom but also head of the spiritually based warrior cult, known as the Panther Cult. T’Challa is often referred to by his hereditary title, the “Black Panther.” As one consultant for the NSA has explained, being the Black Panther is “sort of like being Pope, President, and Head of the Joint Chiefs of Staff all at once.” T’Challa frequently wears a habit that is both a religious vestment and a ceremonial garb of tribal rank.
Joe Carter is an adjunct professor of journalism at Patrick Henry College, an editor for several organizations, and the author of the NIV Lifehacks Bible.
Photo Credit: Promotional Poster for Marvel’s documentary Black Panther.