Continuing the Wakanda Wishes series, we move to East Africa. I have travelled twice to Ethiopia and once to Nairobi, Kenya. I have dear friends who come from both countries, so I have always gone and stayed with friends, attended weddings, and other cultural events that are happening while I am there. Ethiopia and Kenya are both large countries, so while I’ve stayed in Ethiopia for a total of five weeks and Nairobi for one week, there is still so much that I have not seen.
Ethiopia, 2010 & 2015
When I first went to Ethiopia I stayed in the capital city of Addis Ababa, but on the second trip I was able to leave the city to go to other parts of the country such as Shashamane (where there is a large Jamaican/Caribbean community) and Debre Zeyit. The capital city of Ethiopia develops very fast, not unlike other African cities, and between 2010 and 2015 the changes in the city were immense. Large Christian Orthodox churches are juxtaposed with multistory buildings and the farther out you get from the capital you start to see houses made of stone, grass, wood, and clay. Ethiopia is a country with a very high elevation, with the highest mountain reaching about 14,872 feet. As such, the landscape, way of life and style of dress can vary greatly between the capital city, highlands, and rural areas. In Black Panther, we saw the varied landscape of Wakanda, from the capital city to the countryside, Ethiopia is a vast country where diversity abounds from the highlands to the valley with crater lakes to the capital city that is bustling and busy.
I spent a few days in Nairobi, the capital of Kenya, which has the worst traffic I’ve ever experience. It is a city that has great disparities. There are people living in the capital city who work for the UN and also there is Kibera, which is the largest slum in Kenya and the largest urban slum in Africa. Nairobi is filled with towering buildings and also the self-built houses of the slums. It is surrounded by savannah, which contains wildlife such as lions, zebra, giraffes, elephants, and buffalos to name a few. I went on a safari just outside of Nairobi and was able to see the majestic unbothered nature of some of these animals as we slowly drove past them taking pictures and occasionally stopping to let them cross.
Kenya is also known for the Maasai people who are not only recognized for amazing body beautification through jewelry and dress, but also by the adumu: a sort of jumping-dance. This meditative jumping-dance, seemed like the inspiration for the shoulder movement of the Wakandan people while they were watching the challenge scene between T’Challa and M’Baku. The blanket type drape that you see W’Kabi and his people wearing is also in part inspired by the Maasai garb (and blankets).