Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang paid tribute to actor Chadwick Boseman following his 12th minute goal that gave Arsenal an early lead in the Community Shield at Wembley Stadium. After the ball hit the back of the net, the team captain celebrated by assuming the Wakanda Forever pose made famous by Boseman in the film Black Panther. He also struck the pose after Arsenal had won the match. It was a touching gesture that came a day after the tragic news broke of Boseman’s passing from colon cancer.
Of course this wasn’t the first time that Aubameyang had paid tribute to the Marvel superhero that Boseman had portrayed. Back in March of 2019 the Gabonese striker pulled a Black Panther mask from a bag behind the goal after scoring against Rennes in a Europa League match at the Emirates. With the mask on, he crossed his arms in the “Wakanda Forever” salute.
In addition to being a fan of the movie, Aubameyang explained at the time that he felt the mask best represents him. He stated, “I needed a mask who represents me. It’s Black Panther and in Gabon we call the national team the Panther of Gabon, so it represents me, so yeah, that’s it.”
Image: Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang puts on a Black Panther Marvel superhero mask during his celebration for his second goal & Arsenal’s third of the night. [BT]— afcstuff (@afcstuff) March 14, 2019
❤️ @Aubameyang7 #afc pic.twitter.com/7XIfOukXxh
It’s very clear that the Black Panther character is near and dear to Aubameyang. Earlier today before the Community Shield he tweeted a “Rest in Peace” message with a personalized tribute photo.
Boseman’s Black Panther portrayal was groundbreaking in so many different ways. He put so much care into the character because he knew how important T’Challa would become. One of my favorite anecdotes is how Boseman picked T’Challa’s accent. He fought hard against the character having a European accent. For Boseman, Wakanda was a technologically advanced African nation that had never been conquered. Why would the future leader of Wakanda need to leave for his education? Boseman recognized that a non-African accent would reinforce the western, Euro-centric ideas of education and that didn’t square with T’Challa or Wakanda. Boseman won that fight.
Boseman knew the powerful effect having a mainstream Black superhero would have on the world, especially on Black children. Much has been written by writers much more educated and skilled on the matter than I — look up their work, it explains the phenomenon well. Beyond that, you can see the effect that the character had on Aubameyang and other athletes. They identify with the character. The Black Panther means something significant to them. Imagine how much of an effect it has had and will continue to have on Black children worldwide.
And Black Panther wasn’t Boseman’s only groundbreaking role. He played Jackie Robinson in 42, James Brown in Get on Up, and Thurgood Marshall in Marshall. He was a magnificent actor, and his passing has garnered tributes from celebrities around the world. Twitter confirmed that the tweet from his personal account announcing his passing was the most liked tweet of all-time.
May he rest in peace and power.