The Igbo of Nigeria wore masks like this one in competitions where contestants would test their strength and endurance against each other. It was also a point of pride as it symbolized an expression of courage.
This was not the only mask worn in the film. In the end, the two central figures each wore a mask of their own.
Here are the final chilling words of Bartolomé de las Casas, who was there in the 15th and 16th centuries at the dawn of European colonization:
I think that God shall have to pour out his fury and anger on Spain for these damnable, rotten, infamous deeds done so unjustly, so tyrannically, so barbarously to those people, against those people. For the whole of Spain has shared in the blood-soaked riches, some a little, some a lot, but all shared in goods that were ill-gotten, wickedly taken with violence and genocide- and all must pay unless Spain does a mighty penance.
The Lingering Effects of European Colonialism in Africa
As tragic as the history of colonial conquest is, its legacy of inequity is alive and well today. We literally live in the aftermath. The nations of United States, Britain, Portugal, Spain, France, the Netherlands, Denmark, and Sweden all participated in the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade. The nations of Europe all benefited from the past centuries of colonialism.
Many of the resources of Africa are now in the hands of multinational corporations which generate high profits but pay little tax (For example: the largest mining company in the world by revenue, Glencore International AG, which is based in Switzerland). Whatever benefits they might bring to the people of Africa, can scarcely be determined.
How European Industries Suppressed African Revolutions
There are sites all over sub-Saharan Africa where American (Canada included), European, and Asian countries established a foothold on the ground to acquire resources like oil, natural gas, gold, coltan, agricultural products, and diamonds.
In the colonial era, entire industries were part of that scramble for African property and profit. Businesses would market their product as advancing the cause of European imperialism with every purchase.
"As to their religion," says [Dutch physician and writer Olfert Dapper (1636-1689)], "it consists of a cult to the devil, to whom they sacrifice men and cattle; for, although they know full well that there is a God who has created heaven and earth, and still rules, they think it of no use to adore him, as he is not bad, but good; so they try rather to satisfy the devil with sacrifices, because he always treats them badly. They call God Orisa, and the white one (den ivitte Owiovisa) i.e., God's child. ... It was apparently in Dapper's time, as it is now, the fashion to speak of a non-Christian religion as that of the devil. The native explanation of why the devil is worshipped is, of course, the outcome of European teaching; before the advent of the latter such an explanation would probably never have occurred to a Bini.
According to the former their explanation for not adoring God was somewhat as follows.
"Our sovereign is really great; we see him seldom and hardly ever speak to him. If it happens that we are brought into his presence, we prostrate ourselves without daring to look at him, being obliged even to cover up our mouths with one hand. God is infinitely greater and also infinitely good, as he never does us any harm; there is, therefore, no need to worship him and besides, he thinks much less about us than does our king. But the same does not hold good with the devil, for as he is wicked, causes us as much evil as he can, and as all troubles come from him, we pray to him and worship him, and we give him victuals to appease him".
While according to Beauvais:
"The native believes in two beings; one a good one to whom he never prays because he has nothing but good to expect from him, and one an evildoer whom he invokes so as to avoid the evil which he may do him. The native cuts off his fellow creatures and sprinkles his fetishes with their blood in the hope of inducing his divinity to treat him well."
[There is] a certain wood (in which the devil is supposed to lurk) which is by them esteemed so sacred that they never permit a foreign negro or any of his wives to enter it. If any person accidentally happen on a path which leads to this wood, he is obliged to go on to the end of it, and must not return until he has been to the end; and they are firmly persuaded that if this law be violated...the land will be attacked by some severe plague.
Notwithstanding all which, I have frequently gone a-shooting in this wood; and to ridicule their credulity, designedly turned before I had gone half-way to the end of the path; by which means I not a little staggered the faith of some, who saw that my boldness was not attended with any evil consequences. But the roguish priests were immediately ready to hand with an exception, which was, that I, being a white man, their god, or rather devil, did not trouble his head about me, but if a negro should presume to do so, the danger would soon appear."
- H. Ling Roth, Great Benin; its customs, art and horrors (1903)
The Plundering of West Africa and its Kingdoms for Art, Labor, and Wealth
In West Africa during the time of colonialism not so long ago, people were slaughtered for standing against European interests and their possessions were outright stolen from them.
Klaue stated that vibranium was known to the people of Wakanda as "Isipho," meaning "the gift." If this was a "gift" to humanity, why was this gift to the world kept such a closely guarded secret from the world for so long? Could it be that Wakanda had already lost some of that precious mineral to the world at some point(s) in time?
Killmonger alludes to colonial era history when he says that the war hammer in the museum was "taken by British solders in Benin." This is real history. It was "submit or die" and the dead had no say in where those objects they made would be taken to show off as trophies of their surrender or annihilation.