A thank you thread to Chadwick Boseman

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Chadwick Boseman.
Chadwick Boseman.
Photo: Gareth Cattermole/Getty Images for Disney

What a year it has been. Waking up to the news of Chadwick Boseman's passing almost gave me a panic attack. Here was an African American man who embodied a type of masculinity that is seldom depicted on screen.

This "thread" is my attempt to express the heartache of this loss:

1. Chadwick Boseman has passed away, and all I can think about is how his legacy really lies in how well he portrayed a young African King who was grappling with power and responsibility, but was also gentle and kind.

2. And even though the Black Panther movie and its heroics were fictional, I am glad that young men and women in Africa and across its diaspora were exposed to images of a Gentle yet Powerful Man. Thank you, Chadwick Boseman!

3. For me, T'challa's on-screen relationship with Shuri, portrayed well by Letitia Wright, was a revolutionary experience. He played an African King who was not afraid to be laughed at by his younger sister. His first reaction to things was not to anger.

4. Emotionally, the young African King allowed himself to grapple with life's most pressing question: how do you treat your neighbour? Because that says a lot about who you are as a person. Chadwick Boseman walked amongst us with a kind and gentle face.

5. I first took notice of Chadwick in the 2014 movie, Draft Day. Even though Kevin Costner was the lead, it was already evident that Chadwick had a peculiar gentleness to his approach to manhood. He made a full meal out of that small role.

6. As we, Africans, and our African American cousins across the Atlantic, continue to locate one another in this modern wave of Pan-Africanism, let us acknowledge the great foundation that has already been laid out by Chadwick Boseman. All of his movies have made an impeccable impression on the minds of the leaders of tomorrow. Thank you, Chadwick Boseman.

7. In isiXhosa, when there has been a loss in the community, they say to one another, lala ngenxeba (rest on your wound). Boseman carried his cancer condition without complaining. In every photoshoot and in all of the screen time he had, Chadwick always radiated unknown joy. He gave what was left of himself to the work of Love.

8. African Youth and the world at large were exposed to a different emotion towards an African man, via the screen, that they might not have had access to in our multifaceted home environments. Chadwick Boseman embodied what is best of us. And we are better for it.

9. It is still hard to believe that Chadwick is gone. Life is short like that. In the middle of so much craziness in the world, then this happens. But death must not be proud, even though it takes our best. For those whom death thinks it overthrows, die not. We will remember Chadwick and the gift that he was. Our duty now as a society is to eradicate the conditions that lead someone to that extent of privacy.

10. But now his watch has ended. And we bid farewell to a fellow traveller on his pilgrimage. "The Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away; may the name of the Lord be praised".

Lala Ngoxolo (rest peacefully), Chadwick Boseman.

Nkateko Mabasa is a Johannesburg based writer with an upcoming book to be published by Jacana Media in February 2021. 

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