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Preserved – Wakanda Forever

Updated: Oct 12, 2020

Like so many of you, I’m shocked and saddened by the untimely death actor

Chadwick Boseman August 28 th from colon cancer. I wrote this column back in

2018 when Black Panther came out and wanted to share it again as we reflect on

Boseman’s legacy. Perhaps the reason why his depiction of the internal struggle that he

displayed as T’Challa was so powerful was because of his own health struggles.

“Show them who you are!” were words shouted by Ramonda (Angela Bassett) to

T’Challa (Chadwick Boseman) early in the blockbuster movie Black Panther. By

themselves, these words appear to be strong words of encouragement that any mother

would say to her child if she saw that he or she were in a difficult situation. In the case

of T’Challa, he hears these words as he struggles in a physical fight meant to decide

whether he will become the next king of Wakanda. However, these words could also

be interpreted as a foreshadowing of one of the overall positive affirming messages of

the movie.

There were many other memorable moments in the movie (too many to name

here) but hearing those words to me hinted at one of the most important themes of the

movie: T’Challa’s journey of self-discovery. This fight that he was having with M’Baku

wasn’t just a fight with a seemingly more physically capable opponent; it seemed like

the fight could also symbolize T’Challa’s internal conflict with his purpose or destiny as

King. This makes his mother’s words all the more powerful because she reminds him

that he already knows who he is. Despite moments of weakness and doubt, T’Challa

knows exactly who he is. This scene embodies the truth of Psalms 139: 13-14 “For

you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb.   I praise

you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know

that full well.” His mother’s shouted words are the reminder of the truth of those

words for T’Challa.

Later in the movie, T’Challa’s sister Shuri also reminds him of his strength when

she explains to him one of the features of his Black Panther bodysuit. In this important

scene, she describes how the suit is designed to use the energy from the blows it may

receive to actually make it more powerful against future attacks. When I heard this

description, all I could think was how that futuristic technology was an amazing example

of the spiritual principle of being made stronger by adversity.

Psalm 18:32 tells us that “It is God who arms me with strength and keeps my

way secure.” Hebrews 11:34 also refers to weakness being turned to strength. Both

of these scriptures are full of truths that the Black Panther’s bodysuit illustrates: if you

are able to withstand the punches of discouragement, doubt and powerlessness,

eventually you can choose to be strengthened by even the most traumatic life

experiences. It could be that the strength comes from knowing that you were able to

survive the experience. In either case, future strength comes from surviving past

negative experiences. I think out of all of the lessons that this amazing movie offers,

this is the best one of all! Wakanda Forever!!!

Shewanda Riley is a Dallas, Texas based author of “Love Hangover: Moving From Pain to

Purpose After a Relationship Ends” and “Writing to the Beat of God’s Heart: A Book of

Prayers for Writers.” Email her at or follow her on

Twitter @shewanda.

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