Globalization has erased the boundaries between countries in cultural and media spheres. Globalization genuinely represents the situation where information networks and developed communication systems unite the earth and create space for political and economic activity. Still, the 21st century has also opened some parts of the world from the point of their national identity. Countries’ cultures and traditions reveal different new aspects of their lives and influence the world community. Being considered a traditional tribe country characterized by a low quality of life, Africa has become one of those countries whose gentilitial lifestyle and traditions are used as plots for film story lines and sources of zeal in songs and texts. It is no more the country that is associated with slavery, poverty, and genocides. It is also home to inspiration and motivation for the world’s bestselling music records and Oscar-winning movies. African example shows that not only the economy can build up the nation’s character and improve its layout. This essay presents two spheres of modern media culture that have helped Africa take credit from other countries. Traditional music and film industry are those realms that are making the nation well-known at present times.
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Black Panther as the Turning Point in Understanding African Nature
First, it Is necessary to point out that the field of film-making has rocketed in its development and growth in the last few years. The appearance of new digital media effects has upended the quality of the picture. Countries’ landscapes, traditions, and ways of living become plots for stories, opening themes, and decorations. Africa is not an exception. Speaking about this country, it is worth mentioning that it has magnificent views, nature is infusive, and the way people live creates an environment for film plots to appear. For example, Black Panther, released in 2018, tells the story of T’Challa, who fights for the place as King of Wakanda. This film pulls back the reality of how local black communities live. Black Panther shows how Africa’s social context impacts the nation’s identity and expresses the appliance of ethical and cultural determinants in life. Wakanda, for instance, and the way the leaders are chosen there represents real-life elections in tribes and how these tribes fight for superiority. It is not a matter of simple choice for them as it happens to be in the rest of the countries. It is an age-old tradition that is the basis for the existence of such tribes. All the dwellers are full of pride for their community, ready to do their best in order not to spoil its name. Even though Africa’s traditional environment does not bode for great technological development and a high level of education of habitants, the viewer can begrudge the power of the spirit of the country’s occupants (Bashonga, 5). This fact intelligibly shows that traditions are scrupulously observed in the Wakanda community, making it possible to speak about Africa’s national identity.
It is also noteworthy that emotional attachments and identification of these communities are shown perfectly to let the viewer understand the sensual background of how it happens in reality. Some of the African tribes’ languages and ways of interacting are a mystery for an ordinary person, clearly visible in the film. Black Panther is about how Africa’s ethnicity, history, culture, and language help to build up its nationhood in complexity with ideology. Moreover, it is important to point out that the Black Panther’s main hero is also black. Traditionally all Marvel superheroes are white because they represent America’s typical icons, for example, Captain America or Iron Man. T’Challa’s blackness is a proud fact to admit because it indirectly represents the victory of black people in the fight for their rights. Some people say that it doesn’t make sense as it is an ordinary thing as the environment predisposes it. Still, it is a life-changing point for African people who are finally recognized in the community from the position of not only slavery and poor living, but also as a strong nation with its solid cultural boundaries (Bashonga, 7). Besides, the film—making staff is worth mentioning. It is remarkable that black people occupied the majority of leading positions in the film crew. It is not a random choice of high-rated professionals. This group of people has a better understanding of what native African culture looks like and can present it in its best view. Finally, it is necessary to say that after Black Panther’s world fame, Wakanda is not considered an ordinary African country anymore. It is the place of power that accumulates history, culture, and ethnicity in the way the viewer realizes who a native African person is. Wakanda region shows the emphasizing role of ancestor’s spirit and reveals the true identity of its habitants.
Traditional African Music: from Ancient to Modern Times
Music is another milestone that has shaped Africa’s identity and nature. Since ancient times, music and dancing have played a vital role in people’s ability to interact and hold ceremonies and events with the help of different remarkable sounds. In Africa, music has always been an activity that gathered people together. Music has always highlighted African traditions, history, and values represented in melodies and dances. Throughout history, African songs played different roles as there were different melodies for work, local events, wars, and celebrations. When tribe members heard the song, they could easily understand the situation and adapt to it. For example, solo melodies or hand-clapping rhythms could notify people about the upcoming event, whether it is elections of the leader or a war. What is more, African music is nature-directed. There have always existed special rituals of pleasing the weather god with the help of special melodies and dances. Different types of musical instruments used in Africa vary within countries; still, they have a standardized form of expressing the melody. In Botswana, for instance, music is passed from generation to generation and plays an essential role in the Batswana community. Sub-Saharan music traditions include using a great variety of musical instruments, from drums to “thumb pianos” (Charry, 145). It is also a remarkable fact that traditional African music is spread only orally. It is impossible to find written versions of tribe songs as it is a key point in saving African music traditions and pointing out its national identity.
Modern African music motives still have a goal to express the life of people with the medium of sound. Melodies still have a feature of the unicity of intonation and structure, so they are nearly impossible to translate for Western experts. African music is well-known and loved in the world, but what is more important is that it influenced American melodies as well. African music played a major role in shaping modern blues and jazz. These styles come from African rhythms and sound, although they have considerable differences. African music is energetic and joyful, whereas blues has a slower tempo and brings more aesthetic pleasure than a desire to dance. For example, the American folk musician Paul Simon even hired an African band to help him record one of his albums. A lot of Sub-Saharan melodies and sounds were taken as the soundtrack basis for different Hollywood movies and cartoons such as Black Panther or The Lion King. This aspect does not only show the influence of modern African music on the world industry. It proves the fact that ancient traditions are carefully kept throughout the history of the region, and ethnic boundaries are not lost.
To crown it all, it is necessary to say that the spheres mentioned work out a small percentage of all the African culture’s influence and richness. Africa is no longer associated with poverty but with the breadth of cultural, historical, and ethnic boundaries. The exact effect of African music on Western tendencies still requires research to find out more conjunctions between these two musical cultures. The impact of Africa and its lifestyle on the film industry is difficult to measure. Black Panther has become a breakthrough in understanding the community’s lifestyle and changed the way people thought of this region. More and more films and cartoons with the African focus continue to appear on the market, which creates space for analysis. All these tendencies prove the idea that the world community has begun to pay more attention to Africa’s culture thanks to its music and film industry.
Bashonga Raha, “Home, Belonging and Africanity in the Film Black Panther”, The Oxford Handbook of Global South Youth Studies, 2020, pp. 1-12. Web.
Charry, Eric, Hip Hop Africa: New African Music in a Globalizing World. Indiana University Press, 2012.