The People of Wauconda, Illinois, Would Like You to Stop Asking If They Have Black Panther's Vibranium

Image: Marvel
Image: Marvel

The afrofuturistic wonderland from Black Panther is not a real, physical place, but Wauconda, a small village just about an hour outside of Chicago, Illinois, is. And like the fictional Wakandans, the actual Waucondans would really like it if you stopped bothering them about vibranium.


In the days since Black Panther hit theaters, people living in Wauconda have been receiving calls and e-mails from people with questions about Wakanda and whether the city was planning on changing anything about itself to celebrate the movie. Speaking to The Hollywood Reporter Wauconda’s mayor described a number of calls her office has received with people shouting “Wakanda forever!” or asking if the town of less than 20,000 is hiding Wakanda’s valuable metal:

“At first, I was like, is there a full moon out? Someone called and asked how we pronounced the village name and when I told him, he began yelling, ‘Wakanda forever!’ which I am guessing is from the film.”

It’s interesting to note that Wauconda’s name comes from a word that translates to “god” in the language of the Kaw and Osage Nations. In Osage, the word is typically written as “Wah.Kon.Tah” though it’s pronounced identically to Wakanda.

When asked recently by Indian Country Today whether Marvel’s borrowing “Wakanda” for the name of its fictional African country was appropriative or offensive, Osage tribe member and language student Kilan Jacobs said that personally, it didn’t bother him because of the respect the movie has for the name:

“It was a sacred home place to them. Beyond that, I have no way of knowing if in some real African language this is an actual place name or word they have as well. But overall I felt no disrespect or misdoing. The movie was great and uplifting.”

Charles Pulliam-Moore is an NYC-based culture critic whose work centers on fandom, pop culture, politics, race, and sexuality. He still thinks Cyclops made a few valid points.


Dr Emilio Lizardo

DAMMIT! I’ve been making this joke around here for a year or two now since I live just south of Wauconda and drive through it on my way to work* every day and I get no credit whatsoever.

Wauconda is quite different demographically from Wakanda - 90% white and less than 1% African American. We had no trouble buying whatever seats we wanted at the closest IMAX theater a couple of days before seeing the movie last weekend and the theater was crowded for the 12:30AM Sunday show, but by no means completely full.

*I work in Crystal Lake, by the way, where there are no sleepover camps or supernatural mass murderers.