How 400-year old Nigerian language inspired Wakanda language - News and More

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Monday 26 February 2018

How 400-year old Nigerian language inspired Wakanda language

400-year old Nigerian language known as Nsibidi has been revealed as the inspiration for one of the two languages in ground breaking Marvel fiction, Black Panther.
The movie's production designer, Hannah Beachler recently made this known in a report by Indie Wire.

Nsibidi from Calabar area of Nigeria and isiXhosa, the South African language spoken throughout the movie are the two African languages employed in the movie.

Beachler noted that Nsibidi is a distinct written language as well, which has a graphic expression quite separate from other languages.

“It was a secretive language, based on pictography, so it was about how you put the symbols together and the image you create,” said Beachler.

Beachler further said: “The language needed to evolve from the older hieroglyphs into a more modern version. We used it in a pictography way but the numerical system stayed the same.”

sits, there are traditional Nsibidi symbols inscribed on a large column behind him. However, smaller columns contain the more modern version of the language denoting the various names of the tribes.

On how she came about Nsibidi for the movie

Bleacher said: “Ryan Coogler wanted a newer script that felt African but was really advanced.

“I started looking at different cave drawings, we looked at LA graffiti artist Retna and were inspired by his being able to create these characters that were fresh, and started playing and playing. I did three or four passes and so did a couple of the illustrators. We mixed them, bringing our own aesthetic to it and made an entire alphabet.

“It was a process of trying to pay homage to lost languages but also infusing the idea of Afrofuturism of reclaiming languages lost.”

According to Wikipedia, history is yet to give the exact origin of the word nsibidi but a theory traces the word to the Ekoid languages, where it means "cruel letters", reflecting the harsh laws of the secret societies that hold nsibidi knowledge. In Calabar, nsibidi is mostly associated with men's leopard societies such as Ekpe.

It was further written that the origin of nsibidi is most commonly attributed to the Ejagham people of the northern Cross River region, mostly because colonial administrators found the largest and most diverse nsibidi among them.

Nsibidi has a wide vocabulary of signs usually imprinted on calabashes, brass ware, textiles, wood sculptures, masquerade costumes, buildings and on human skin. Nsibidi has been described as a "fluid system" of communication consisting of hundreds of abstract and pictographic signs while in the colonial era, P.A. Talbot described the written language as "a kind of primitive secret writing" purely meant for cult members.   (Pulse NG)

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