Wakanda may be fake, but Wakandan is a real language. In scenes in Captain America: Civil War where actors playing Wakandans speak to each other, they’re speaking Xhosa, one of South Africa’s official languages.

Veteran actor John Kani had many local fans surprised after they recognised him in the newly released movie, Captain America: Civil War.

Kani plays the part of King T’Chaka in the film and although his part was very brief, it is pivotal because it is where audiences get introduced to the Black Panther.

Marvel president Kevin Feige has previously explained the importance of Black Panther, who is played by Chadwick Boseman in the movie, saying that when audiences meet T’Challa he is on the cusp of taking over the reins of Black Panther from his father, T’Chaka.

T’Chaka is the current ruler of Wakanda and South Africans were excited when they not only recognised John Kani in the role but also picked up on the fact that he spoke some Xhosa during his scenes.

While T’Challa (Chadwick Boseman) speaks English to the other English-speaking characters in the film, the choice was made that scenes between T’Challa and his father, T’Chaka (John Kani), should be in Wakandan; it is, after all, an island nation with a strong resistance to outsiders. They’d obviously speak in their own language.

On the choice of Xhosa, director Joe Russo told Entertainment Weekly, “John Kani, the actor who plays T’Challa’s father in the movie, speaks the language and taught it to Chadwick.”

Xhosa is spoken by 7.6 million people, and one of its characteristics is the use of clicks as part of the language. Here’s a pre-Daily Show Trevor Noah explaining it:

So when you hear Wakandan in the film, know it’s not a made-up language in the vein of Klingon or Dothraki. It’s a real one.

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Brent Lindeque
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Brent Lindeque is the founder and man in charge at Good Things Guy.

Recognised as one of the Mail and Guardian’s Top 200 Young South African’s as well as a Primedia LeadSA Hero, Brent is a change maker, thought leader, radio host, foodie, vlogger, writer and all round good guy.

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