Language & Customs
It was decided earlier on that Xhosa, one of the official languages of South
be the language of fictional Wakanda and subsequently the Xhosa culture would
itself as a touchstone to the Wakandan citizenry. A precedent had been set in
War," when celebrated South African actor John Kani, who portrayed King T'Chaka,
his native accent and Boseman, in turn, picked it up.
With an international cast, all hailing from different countries and regions
of the world,
dialect coach Beth McGuire was tasked with ensuring that there was continuity
them all. McGuire, a linguist who works with students at the Yale Repertory
previously had worked with Lupita Nyong'o for her performance in Danai Gurira's
"Eclipsed" and came to Coogler's attention.
As the director began to fully flesh out what Wakanda would be and how its
would fit into his narrative, he looked to McGuire to work in Xhosa and other
including Nigeria's Igbo for the remote Wakandan province of Jabari, and a
of Korean, and, of course, Afrikaans for Serkis' Klaue.
For Winston Duke, who plays M'Baku, the language training was fun. "I do more
Nigerian Igbo influence," he offers. "So it's not Igbo, but it's influenced by
the rest of the cast is doing South African Xhosa. So they're doing something
specific and rooted and grounded. M'Baku's mountain-strong people, who have been
sequestered in the hills in the mountains, have developed to some degree their
culture. We wanted something that had its own personality and had its own
we referenced Igbo, and that helped. The rhythm of that language influenced the
rhythm of my character."
Working in tandem with McGuire, South African actor Atandwa Kani (cast in the
young T'Chaka to his father John's elder T'Chaka) served as a cultural
his expertise of his homeland to the filmmakers. It would prove invaluable when
ventured out into Wakanda's streets and countryside but especially during
filming of the
epic Warrior Falls sequence that had dozens of Wakanda's citizens bearing
witness to T'Challa's ascension to the throne.
It's all in the details for Coogler, Feige and the cast, and Kani's
another layer of authenticity to the project. Kani clarified the cultural
movement, greetings, songs and chants. At one point, he had everyone on the film
singing songs as musicians played to
keep energy and spirits up during
complicated shoot days. These organic
moments often made their way into
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