As I always do at least 3 times a year, I found myself watching the first entry in George Lucas’ original ‘Star Wars’ Saga…’A New Hope’.
I was reminded of one of the reasons I fell in love with ‘Star Wars’ when the scene of Zulu speaking Jawa Droid Merchant Scavengers who capture and eventually sell R2-D2 and C-3PO to a bored and frustrated Luke Skywalker came up.
It was this sale or more properly meeting, that began the Hero’s journey, and eventually set Luke Skywalker on his course to discover his destiny as a Jedi Knight.
R2-D2, C-3PO and their Jawa Captors
At the tme, I was simply happy that an African language had been spoken in such a major Sci-Fi epic…I took it as a testament of George Lucas’ imagination, carrying on the traditions of Sci-Fi shows like ‘Star Trek’ that emphasized the diversity of the Universe, and using Zulu in the context of ‘Star Wars’ to me remains a sincere attempt by George Lucas to reflect diversity in his Film within the confines of the era it was released.
Zulu Speaking Jawa Scavengers in Star Wars: A New Hope
Fast-forward to 2018 and the release of Black Panther, and now an African language in this case IsiXhosa has taken centre stage. It is no longer the speak of outer Space Bandits but rather the language of Royalty and a proud African Nation.
IsiXhosa in Black Panther
This shift in the use of African languages from peripheral to central characters is significant and stretches the boundaries of the Genre beyond the possibilities first recognised and implemented by George Lucas in the original ‘Star Wars’ Trilogy.
African languages are no longer used to depict the peripheral ‘Other’ in the Universe, and ultimately that sends a broader message of where African languages and African people belong in the World we are shaping today.
African Culture and the African Aesthetic are no longer ‘Fringe Culture’, instead they now form part of the ‘new cool’. That’s a big change, we should all amplify and embrace in our own individual way.
Don’t forget, our new Magazine ‘Disclosure’ launches in June and you can peep the preview here
Links & Credits
IsiXhosa in Black Panther: https://www.inverse.com/article/41684-black-panther-african-language-wakanda-xhosa