A leadership lesson from the movie Black Panther
Yep, I am just watching Black Panther. Not that I loathe movies but a lot of things prioritized highly has been on my mind for the most part of this year. Plus, I wasn’t with my city crew when they went to watch it. So I finally had my opportunity today. First, the hype around the release of the movie is overrated for me. And when the movie first got out and I saw young Africans particularly in other countries get so pumped up made it piss me off even more. Someone (of African descent) mentioned that his kid was crying after watching the movie and I’m like, ‘WHAT?!’ The movie speaks more of Hollywood than of Africa. I’m very familiar with the African continent, so don’t challenge me. And honestly, I don’t like to go there (into such discussions).
Black Panther is an awesome movie no doubt. At first, I had issues on why they had to make a movie like that. But later I thought, ‘well, every other zone has their own superhero kind of movie, so why not Africa’. The annoying part of it is just that Hollywood had to define Africa to the world. Anyway, that’s not my problem. I won’t plot out the flaws of the movie. I don’t like to ruin another person’s art. But I will breakdown a key flaw in the leadership quality of the main character T’Challa. This flaw made the story the way it is. I’ll just take it that T’Challa was young and naive. He could have handled the Killmonger situation differently. The reason I’m writing this is just in case I am the only one who saw it (which I hope I wasn’t). It is a leadership lesson that must be kept at heart.
When T’Challa learnt about the identity of Killmonger, he was not wrong to be angry at his father. But that isn’t going to solve the problem. Maybe he had too little time to process his decisions. He made decisions too hasty. In times when matters are close to the edge, leaders must not make hasty decision no matter how dire the situation is. In the light of every new development, take time to soak the reality in. Never respond in haste.
When Killmonger challenged T’Challa for the throne, T’Challa knew that he had no choice otherwise he would show cowardice. However, he was not in the right mental frame of mind for battle. At that point of the challenge, I already knew Killmonger had the advantage and would win any duel at that stage. If T’Challa had won, it would have been a rigged story. Accepting the challenge was not T’Challa’s choice, he was played into it. And he could have done something for himself (i.e. made a choice) but he didn’t. What could he have done? Simple! Accept the challenge but decree it will happen in 45 days. If asked why? He should state that he is not in the right frame of mind to fight and that Wakanda needs time to digest this new information that stares them in the face. Also, he ought to tell Killmonger that it takes more than just a warrior to be king. That though he might think he knows much, there is so much more to know. He needs time to be connected to the people he intends to rule. The council will agree to that and Killmonger has no choice but to agree. The time would have made a heaven of a difference.
Of course, Killmonger will be mentally tortured for the 45 days. His will to fight will suffer a significant blow with each passing day. He should be under guard at all times and every evening, T’Challa should take him out into the city personally to make him learn the history of the community he intends to rule. Gradually, T’Challa learns more about his foe and breaks his will to fight through anger (and loss). And secretly trains without superhuman strength to face his foe. With every day Killmonger grows weaker in mental strength, T’Challa grows stronger. After bonding with the community in Wakanda, Killmonger may find his place and call off the duel. If not, on the 45th day, T’Challa will be prepared to decapitate by any means necessary while Killmonger will be staring at a loving brother.
Of course, with the new scenario, T’Challa would win. But that will ruin the action, right? I thought so too. This is a lesson in leadership; never take up a foe that has a mental advantage over you. Breathe, let the reality soak, before you commit to a decision. It will save you from a civil war. I’m glad watching the movie wasn’t in vain.
P.S. I am very familiar with the African continent and I find the “Wakandan” accent (in the movie) funny. Never heard anyone who talks like that except in movies. (They tried though, I know how difficult it must be for some of those characters to speak freely in that accent).