Black Panther: Wakanda Forever is a beautiful, heartbreaking exploration of grief. As the characters onscreen grieve for T’Challa, who has died of an unnamed illness, the audience is given space to grieve for Chadwick Boseman, who died in 2020 of colon cancer. Part of what makes the film so moving is that we’re given tender, intimate looks at each individual character’s grief, and how they carry it.
Spy, warrior, and polyglot Nakia (Lupita Nyong’o) is one of the characters closest to T’Challa, having been his longtime friend and lover. It’s surprising, then, that we don’t see her onscreen until almost halfway through the film. Why is Nakia in Haiti instead of Wakanda? Why doesn’t she come home for T’Challa’s funeral? Here are the multilayered reasons why she creates a new life for herself far from home.
Massive spoilers ahead!
After Namor abducts Shuri, Queen Ramonda goes to Haiti to ask Nakia for help. Once Nakia gets involved in the rescue effort, we find out that she moved to Haiti shortly after Thanos’s snap, which takes place six years before Wakanda Forever. Nakia explains that T’Challa was “everything” to her, leading us to believe that she needed some space to work through her grief.
However, there’s another reason Nakia went to Haiti.
Nakia’s son, Toussaint
At the end of the movie, Shuri travels to Haiti to perform the Wakandan mourning ceremony that Queen Ramonda encouraged her to do after T’Challa’s death. Sitting on the beach, Shuri reminisces about T’Challa (with her memories rendered through moving footage of Chadwick Boseman in the first Black Panther), and in the mid-credit scene, Nakia comes out to join her. Nakia isn’t alone, though. She’s brought her son, Toussaint.
It turns out that shortly before the Snap, T’Challa and Nakia conceived a child together. Although he goes by Toussaint in Haiti—an homage to the Haitian revolutionary Toussaint Louverture—his Wakandan name is T’Challa, like his father. Nakia explains to Shuri that she and T’Challa wanted their son to grow up away from the pressure of the throne, and Nakia asks Shuri to keep their secret. When T’Challa comes of age, he’ll have the option of claiming the throne—although he’ll presumably have to challenge M’Baku for it.
Nakia has made a life for herself in Haiti, and with a child to raise, it seems likely that she’ll stay there for the foreseeable future. She even tells Shuri that Shuri is welcome to stay with her if she wants. Even if Nakia is living far from Wakanda, though, T’Challa’s legacy lives on in his child.
(featured image: Marvel Entertainment)
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