The Hollywood action movie Black Panther captured the imagination of audiences around the globe. In several African countries, it quickly became the highest grossing film of all time. The tale is set in Wakanda, a technologically advanced African kingdom that avoided the shackles of colonialism and slavery by isolating itself behind a guise of poverty and deprivation. Although what it presents as “African”, in terms of narrative and images, is far from uncontested, the film catapulted Afrofuturism – a discipline or aesthetic that enlists science fiction and technology to imagine black identities and futures unconstrained by past and present circumstances – from the avant-garde circles of artists and intellectuals into the mainstream.
The current public debate on African migration to Europe is largely fuelled by visions of boats crossing the Mediterranean Sea, filled with desperate people in search of a better life. The narrative positions Africa as a “continent on the move” whose people are surging into Europe on a seemingly endless tide. Although media images of desperate African refugees fleeing to Europe do portray the daily reality and the often-tragic consequences of the treacherous crossing, the framing conceals more than it reveals.