Heyy guys! I hope you’re doing well and excited to chat with me on this hot topic. I watched Black is King last month and thoroughly enjoyed it. As descibed on Disneyplus.com, ‘The visual album for Beyonce reimagines the lessons of Lion King for today’s young kings and queens in search of their own crowns.’ It is the visual for Lion King: The Gift Album released in 2019.
It is an amazing work of art and watching it was the first time I have seen an American artist portray ancient and modern African religions and cultures on a global scale. The visuals, cinematography, outfits, hairstyles, African locations, choreography, featured artists were all ON POINT. What didn’t Beyonce give us in this? Songs like Bigger and Brown Skin Girl made me shed tears as they are empowering to marginalised people around the world. Especially young brown skin girls, who have grown up without love for the colour of their skin.
So you can imagine my surprise when the morning after I watched it, the narrative around this beautiful visual had been lost. Instead, it had shifted to discussions around Spirituality amongst Christians (mostly Nigerians) on my timeline. I started seeing posts like ‘Beyonce is a witch’, ‘Black is King is demonic’… and I was confused. This is the same film I watched and acknowledged that Beyonce did showcase elements of ancient Yoruba religion (like in the visual for Bigger), but no harm was done.
I grew up watching Nigerian movies that showed people practicing their religions without participating or condemning their practices. So, the burning question on my mind is: how is Black is King different from any other movie we’ve watched? If we are used to seeing other religions practiced by others in everyday life and films, why does it become problematic when Beyonce shows it?
There was no mention in Black is King that the religion is ‘The right way’ or that anyone should even practice it. The film was simply portraying one of many religions practiced in Africa. It was no threat to Christianity and even if it were, the people who would be led astray are those who have been interested in exploring that religion before. It becomes a heart issue not a Beyonce one. I highly doubt anyone who is strong in their beliefs watched Black is King and suddenly had a change of heart.
Dear Christians, what if instead of condemning Beyonce and this film, we focus our energy on the gospel without attacking others? As I mentioned earlier, I have seen ‘Christians’ call her a Witch and say Black is King is demonic, which is highly insulting and condescending since she has never confessed to been one. She has never admitted to practicing any of the religions shown. Instead, we should focus on educating our brothers and sisters, especially in the diaspora on the differences between Culture and Religion in Africa.
This brings me to the topic of Colonization. Citizens of colonized countries in Africa have been conditoned to think that religions practiced by African ancestors are evil because our Colonizers said so. When in reality, there are good and bad parts to all religions because humans naturally corupt spirituality. If you didn’t know, African religions are not always violent and about sacrificing children, they are also about paying homage to a higher power, just like other religions. Our forefathers were not all demon pawns/savages, they were also kind and spiritual beings. Please keep this in mind before you criticize or insult them.
This is my detailed opinion on this topic (it is not fact and I know you have yours too). I am very willing to read conflicting opinions you might have. So, let us have transparent and respectful conversations in the comment section. I love you all!