No, British Airways—Wakanda is not a real African country

What? Wakanda?
What? Wakanda?
Image: Richard Shotwell/Invision/AP
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There is no such place as Wakanda in Africa, or anywhere else in the real world for that matter.

This explanation seems unnecessary in the age of Google maps and internet searches in general, and yet actress Lupita Nyong’o was confusingly described as being a citizen of this mythical kingdom.

British Airways’ in-flight magazine High Life published a photo collage of celebrities they believe will make 2018’s best-dressed list and the Oscar winner was among them. While relatively less famous models and rappers were accurately described right down to their hometowns, Nyong’o was listed as hailing from just Wakanda.

Perhaps the lack of any other geographic markers should have tipped the caption writers off about Wakanda’s location in the imagination of Marvel’s creators. The kingdom is the home of Marvel’s African superhero the Black Panther. In the series, it’s an isolationist country that would be located near Lake Turkana, somewhere near Uganda, Kenya, South Sudan and Ethiopia—if it were real.

Nyong’o is a real African, who is set to star in the film adaptation of the Black Panther. Born in Mexico City while her Kenyan parents worked in Mexico, Nyong’o is Kenyan and currently lives in the United States.

The planned Black Panther film has generated much hype, including a trailer that gave a sneak peak into the futuristic tech-driven, pan-African kingdom Wakanda would be, if it were real. The magazine, which has a potential readership of 3.4 million passengers, gave no explanation for why it confused fantasy with real geography. The editor did not respond to questions from Quartz.

Africa’s international image already has to compete with decades of ignorance and negative stereotypes, now the continent has to contend with a comic book fantasy.