Home Comics & Toys How Captain America: Civil War used Xhosa to create a language for the Black Panther

How Captain America: Civil War used Xhosa to create a language for the Black Panther

2 min read

Black Panther (2)

I think we can all agree that Captain America: Civil War is a kickass movie. Balanced action, a huge cast of heroes engaging in a massive battle royale and a story that manages to be both epic and personal. A really, really fantastic film. One of the highlights of Civil War has been the introduction of a new Spider-Man, played by Tom Holland. But for me, it’s seeing the Black Panther in action that really sells the movie.

The prince of Wakanda has his own story-arc, setting up Chadwick Boseman’s T’Challa before his own solo movie. And as a South African, watching him speak Wakandan and realising that I didn’t need subtitles to understand him, was magical. That’s because the language of Wakanda, is largely Xhosa. I guess you could say that it just clicked in as a natural fit. “The language we used for Wakandan is called Xhosa,” Civil War co-director Joe Russo said to EW.

Black Panther (1)

John Kani, the actor who plays T’Challa’s father in the movie, speaks the language and taught it to Chadwick. It’s spoken by 7.6 million people in South Africa.

And that’s massively important. We’ve got our own terrible history, of abuse, violence and Apartheid. A history that will still take many, many years to properly heal. And then you’ve got Wakanda, a fictional nation which is the polar opposite of what South Africa has been through. In the comics, Wakanda is not only home to the Black Panther, but is the most technologically advanced country on the planet.

It’s a nation that has never been conquered, having easily fought off the likes of the Dutch, British and American forces over centuries. Countries with shady governments who would stop at nothing to destabilise Wakanda and claim the Vibranium ore that is found only on that land. It’s one of the reasons why Wakanda was for many years an isolationist country, before it began reaching out and attempting to better the world, giving it a future that lies in the stars.

Black Panther

I think Black Panther is going to be a hugely important movie for not just us, but for our entire continent. To see a hero who echoes the best of Africa, a warrior-king in Vibranium threads who in a way embodies the lessons taught by Nelson Mandela on compassion and action, is very inspiring. And makes me want to pump my fist up and shout RSA! RSA! RSA!

The Black Panther movie is currently scheduled for a February 2018 release date, alongside Doctor Strange, Guardians of the Galaxy Volume 2, Thor: Ragnarok and others in the third phase that stretches into 2020.

Last Updated: May 6, 2016


  1. That’s Awesome!! Not only because it is a representation of a country with great potential, but also a language that rings home, even with the current climate in this country, nothing unites people more than being recognised as a nation that worked through it’s lowest times and came out on the other side better than it did before…I’m hopeful that things can be fixed…

    Speaking of local, Dan Patlansky’s CD launched today…I have no words to describe how awesome it is!! Holy Crap!


  2. Sageville

    May 6, 2016 at 10:12

    Love this stuff!


  3. Francois Knoetze

    May 6, 2016 at 10:12

    I knew it!!! Bloody picked it up once the locals in the cinema started commenting


    • Hammersteyn_hates_Raid0

      May 6, 2016 at 10:16



  4. Strawman Jim

    May 6, 2016 at 10:29

    Fun fact, Ethiopia was never colonised; therefore Wakanda is Ethiopia!

    Jah Rastafari! I and I Orange yellow but yuh nah know if it sweet!!



    • Strawman Jim

      May 6, 2016 at 10:40

      @AfricanTime – Well, they were occupied by Mussolini’s Italy briefly, but no, they were never colonised.


      • AfricanTime

        May 6, 2016 at 10:41

        no you are technically corrrect.


  5. DragonSpirit009

    May 6, 2016 at 10:30

    I seriously have to make a plan to watch this movie! I hope it will still show for a few days longer!


    • Strawman Jim

      May 6, 2016 at 10:31

      Same here, probably won’t be this weekend, have to go to open day tomorrow and Sunday is mother’s day…


  6. Strawman Jim

    May 6, 2016 at 10:36

    Wait… Darryn can speak isixhosa? 😮 Damn playa… your powerlevel is greater than mine 🙁


    • The D

      May 6, 2016 at 13:02

      Here’s the funny thing: I can understand it just fine, but I’ve only got a working knowledge of how to speak it. Weird, I know.


  7. Strawman Jim

    May 6, 2016 at 10:44

    Reminds me of that time that Sharlto Copley threw some choice Afrikaans words at the audience (in Elysium) and the cinema exploded with cheers…


  8. RinceThis

    May 6, 2016 at 10:47

    So much win here! Nice one D.


  9. oVg whippersnapper

    May 6, 2016 at 12:19

    Come to think of it, we get to kill lots of Afrikaans mercenaries in videogames. I noticed the accent in Uncharted 4, Far Cry 2, MGSV…


    • HvR

      May 6, 2016 at 12:28

      Soldier of Fortune


    • Fireprufe15

      May 7, 2016 at 10:08

      Also Titanfall.


  10. Brandon van Reenen

    May 7, 2016 at 08:17

    We had John Kani on Afternoon Express and it was such a delight getting to work with him.


  11. Stan Philip Samuel

    May 7, 2016 at 12:46

    They picked the wrong language unfortunately. This is just my opinion. Xhosa is only spoken in South Africa. Wakanda has been geographically placed in Equatorial Africa near Kenya, Uganda and Ethiopia (as seen in Iron Man 2). Maybe Swahili would have been a more appropriate selection. Some South African and African audiences were confused at the lack of appreciation of our language spread. I guess they took the easy route and used it because John Kani knew the language, still does not make it right though. Oh well, it’s a fictional world right?


    • Michelle

      May 7, 2016 at 17:54

      someone is obvisously feeling salty…hmmm…Ag Shame you poor thing. Excuse us while some of us enjoy the movie


      • Stan Philip Samuel

        May 7, 2016 at 17:57

        Haha no no… I loved loved the movie. Like wow!! Can’t wait for the next MCU blockbuster! Just thought I’d discuss something about the topic of the article…


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