Half naked people wearing crudely made clothes, hunting animals in the jungle with crudely fashioned tools. That used to be the media’s portrayal of Africa, and the whole of Africa was often talked about as if it were one large country filled with numerous tribes.
It’s 2016, and the media’s portrayal of Africa has stepped up to semi-naked people wearing old clothes (that were probably discarded decades ago by their original owners in other parts of the world), living in mud huts with their starving children, who are receiving aid from the Western World in order to survive. I’ve lived in Lagos, Nigeria, all my life and those images are as foreign to me as they are to anyone outside Africa.
Even when Stan Lee and Jack Kirby created the Black Panther and Wakanda to show that an African native was just as capable of being a superhero as a western character was, they just couldn’t visualize properly an African nation without the “native tribe” stereotype.
Wakanda is the most technologically advanced nation in the Marvel world, and I put no blame on the creators for the design and architecture of Wakanda in the early comics. They were working in the 1960s without social media and very limited sources of any images from Africa that didn’t fit these cartoon-cavemen stereotypes.
If I had to draw designs for, let’s say, a fictional South American country today, I’ll base it off whatever images i could find on the internet, seeing as I’ve never actually been there.
We’ve found some designs for futuristic African cities drawn up by people who actually live in Africa. I’ll start with my home city, Lagos. This is a project by Olalekan Jeyifous, in which he juxtaposed real life locations in Lagos with some imaginary shanty structures he designed. Check it out in the video below.
Remember that video we released comparing Lagos in Captain America 3 with Lagos in real life? We took that footage from the 24th floor of this building.
Next, we have this cyberpunk design for Kampala, the capital of Uganda, 200 years in the future. I’m really curious to hear what people who have actually been to Kampala think about this design.
Finally, there are the cities and planets in Yohance, a comic by one of our favourite publishers, Midas Monkee. Yohance is a sci-fi space opera set many years in the future, but everything in the comic from the armor, to the vehicles to the paintings on the wall are heavily inspired by real African sculptures, paintings and armour. You can read Yohance for free right now on iBooks, or for $10 on other digital comic platforms.