Road to Wakanda
My journey to Wakanda began two years ago when I received a call from fellow author Glenn Paris. He told me there was going to be a Black Panther anthology and asked me if I was interested. I was definitely intrigued, but I said yes with some doubt. Being an indie author, I often hear about such projects but rarely get the opportunity to participate.
Months passed and I eventually concluded that either the project wasn't going to happen or I had not been selected to participate. Then I received and email from Jesse Holland, the editor for the anthology. He told me he'd read some of my work and was excited to have me participate in the anthology. When he shared the names of other authors I became excited as well. Almost half of them I knew personally, and I had great respect for all. There was one person that sealed the deal for me; Nikki Giovanni. To share pages with her was a goal I never thought I had. No matter what happened afterwards, I could always say that I shared pages with Nikki Giovanni!
Jesse explained the parameters of the anthology. All stories were to be based in the Marvel comic book universe, not the movie universe. That stumped me; I'm not a big comic book reader, and the majority of my knowledge of Black Panther came from the movie. So I did my research, googling and talking to my comic book collecting friends. As I was reading the Wikipedia article on Black Panther one name jumped out; Bashenga. He was the first Black Panther. His story was shared by T'Challa to Abner Little in Black Panther Vol. 1, number 7. Now here was something I could sink my teeth into. Telling a story from the Black Panther past would allow me to incorporate a little Sword and Soul into the Panther canon.
When you look at the fictional location of Wakanda, the richness for storytelling is obvious. Situated in the midst of such great empires such as Kemet, Kush, Nubia, Makuria, Abyssinia, and Axum teases the imagination with how these varied cultures would have influenced and been influenced by the mysterious yet powerful Wakandans. Then there's the encounters that may have occurred with various invaders, such as the Omani Arabs, Ottoman Turks, British and Italians. All this sparks endless ideas.
But what called to me most was a story of origin and lineage. The Monsters of Mena Ngai is the story of Bashenga fighting to secure his claim not only to the mysterious mountain of vibranium granted to him by the deity Bast, but also the leadership of his people. I was inspired by the Sayfawa Dynasty of Kanem-Bornu, one of the longest ruling dynasties not only in Africa, but the world. The rulers of this dynasty were recorded in the Diwan, an oral history that lists each ruler and their major accomplishments. I imagine Wakanda as a literate society, possessing its own handwriting influenced by that of Kemet, Kush or Abyssinia script. Imagine walking into its oldest libraries and seeing shelves of papyrus scrolls containing records of Wakanda's earliest days.
The Monsters of Mena Ngai could serve as the beginning of an amazing tale of the rulers of Wakanda, but that wasn't my charge for this anthology. My road to Wakanda was fascinating, and I'm exited about being a part of this anthology. I hope when you read my story you'll be entertained and your imagination sparked.
Order you book today from anywhere books are sold. Wakanda forever!