John Kani convinced Marvel to make isiXhosa the language of Black Panther’s Wakanda

18 January 2018
As the anticipation for Black Panther reaches fever pitch, fans are scrambling for whatever tidbits they can find. The latest bit comes thanks to the legendary, John Kani. The actor plays King T'Chaka, the ruler of a fictional world called Wakanda.
 
"In the movie I'm the original Black Panther and I'm tasked with nominating my successor," he told Move Mag. "I reunite with my son after not seeing him after some time."
 
If you never thought you would ever hear a local language in a Hollywood blockbuster, think again. "The director and I were challenged with coming up with ideal thing to say to my son, played by my son in real life, Atandwa, in-line with the plot of the film," Kani remembers. "It had to be in the native language of 'Wakanda'. I chose to say something isiXhosa in which the director and everyone on set loved; we need that, the director said."
 
That one move had Marvel Studios adopting isiXhosa as the official language of Wakanda. This isn't the first time Kani was looked to for language direction in a film. "Even when I filmed Civil War, I was the language expert and my American counterparts would say; give me something with a click, they were referring to isiXhosa. My son and I filmed in Atlanta together, I left and he stayed to continue filming. He took over as the language consultant."
 
This isn't John Kani's only major film role. He's also working on the real-life adaptation of the movie The Lion King, currently in pre-production. He voices Rafiki in the film which features vocal work by  Beyoncé Knowles, Chiwetel Ejiofor and Alfre Woodard, among others.
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