Did the ancient Bini Kingdom inspire the fictional Wakanda?

Bisi Alimi related a connection between the Bini Empire and Wakanda. Is it possible that we're missing something?

Before its releae, Black Panther wa heralded as a manifesto of black and african identity as the first Marvel feature film to be set in Africa. It also features the first African superhero, T'Challa who takes the role of the Black Panther.

Since its release, the most attentive viewers have highlighted references to African culture and history, such as the Dora Milaje, the female guards of the King, inspired by the Amazons of Benin.

Among these many allusions, gay rights activist and commentator, Bisi Alimi has put a very interesting case forward.

He believes that the Kingdom of Wakanda, which T'Challa rules over and most of the movie is set in, shares similarities with the famed ancient Bini Kingdom.

Two great African kingdoms

In a lenghtily-captioned post on his Instagram account, the vocal commentator related the greatness of Bini to the imposing and technologically advanced Wakanda.

He wrote, "The image you can see above is the Benin Empire in mid-western Nigeria. It was one of the many powerful advanced kingdoms that dotted the western region of the country that is now known as Nigeria.""Another of such advanced kingdom is the Oyo empire. I am sure that we all know the concept of an empire and a kingdom will not be called an empire unless it is powerful, advanced in technology, has a system of government that is well respected and an economic policy."

undefined"Why am I writing about Benin Empire this morning?", he asked. "Well, it is the fact that we have been told "Wakanda" is imaginary. We were told that it only exists in the world of our imagination but when I saw this picture I realised it is not so."The Bini Empire was one of the greatest in African history. It's capital was Edo, the area which is now known as Beniin City in Edo State.

At its height, it was one of the oldest and most highly developed states in the coastal hinterland of West Africa, dating perhaps to the eleventh century CE, until it was annexed by the British Empire in 1897.

Despite the popular perceptions of African civilisations at the time, Bini was well advanced in trade, government and structure.

Like Erediauwa, Like T'Challa

It is here that some of the similarities with Wakanda may lie. The Empire was ruled by the Oba, a position which was handed down by inheritance.

The Oba enjoyed a reputation close to T'Challa's. He was the spiritual and political head of the Empire and when trouble beckoned, the people looked to him to save them.

Much like Wakanda, the Bini Empire, especially the capital, was a structural phenomenon. While Wakanda had cities lying along cliff edges, Benin was surrounded by a great wall that has been described as the largest man-made wall in human history.

The city itself was a labyrinth of streets that was a testament to the planning and order that we now associate with the world's most advanced cities.

Is this enough to say the Kingdom of Wakanda was inspired by Benin? Perhaps, not. Across Africa, many ancient civilsation left their footprints in the sand and the annals of history.

The Black Panther movie did well to draw inspiration from these many sources and incorporate them into one seamless story. It is more likely that Wakanda was created in this form, as an amalgam of influences drawn from different cities and empires.

Regardless, the sentiment shared by many who have seen the movie remains valid. Wakanda is a black story.

In a world where the media has more power than any other single force (save, nuclear bombs and religion), it is important that we celebrate these victories, where the African identity is portrayed with pizzazz, verve, strength and depth.

Wakanda Forever!

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