The Visitor’s Guide to Cookouts in Wakanda

Illustration for article titled The Visitor’s Guide to Cookouts in Wakanda
Graphic: Michael Harriot (The Root; photos via iStock and Marvel)

Hello, and welcome to Wakanda!

After noticing an increase in tourist visa applications and bookings at the newly renovated Downtown M’Arriott Garden Inn, the staff at the Wakanda Bureau of Tourism would like to offer some advice to first-time visitors to our great empire.


Our temperate climate and the success of the documentary Black Panther have made us the No. 1 destination for black Americans during the spring and summer vacation seasons, surpassing the Dominican Republic, Miami Beach and your cousins who live up north. Because of this surge, we wanted to inform newcomers about Wakanda’s most sacred tradition: the cookout.

There is nothing greater than a cookout in Wakanda.

It is the equivalent of taking a hot bubble bath in heaven under an open window with a cheap box fan blowing (and no, it does not lower the temperature of the water because it’s heaven, dummy!) while being serenaded by a Marvin Gaye-Billie Holiday duet, and just as the second verse ends, your grandmother sends in a tray containing freshly made oxtails and a cup of grape Kool-Aid with the perfect amount of ice (melted a little bit), and as you take a sip, out of nowhere, Tupac interrupts Billie Holiday with a guest verse.

That’s what a cookout in Wakanda is like.

Unlike in America, all food-related gatherings of more than four people who are not in the same family are deemed “cookouts.” This includes fish fries, wedding receptions, family reunions and even post-funeral celebrations. It matters not whether the event takes place inside or outside; it is still a cookout. Even if we celebrated your holiday dedicated to genocide and giblet gravy, in Wakanda, it would still be called a “Thanksgiving cookout.”

While you may be familiar with American-style barbecues, there are certain rituals and customs written into the Wakandan Constitution that must be adhered to at all times. Here are some of the things you need to remember about cookouts in Wakanda.


We have been informed of the African-American practice of inviting colonizers to cookouts whenever wypipo show a glint of humanity. Although we try to refrain from judging other cultures, it would be remiss of us not to offer this bit of advice:

This is why you can’t have nice things.

One of the reasons for the unprecedented wealth and peace in Wakanda is that we treat our borders like we treat our cookouts. Our gatherings are for family, friends, acquaintances and all notwypipo (an ancient Wakandan word that means ... you know what it means). Years ago, we noticed that when other countries started inviting outsiders to cookouts, people in the Wypipo Tribe would step on people’s toes during line dances and encouraged attendees to accompany them on luxury cruises to this place called “the New World.”


I wonder whatever happened to those guys?

Anyway, we don’t do this in Wakanda. According to the ancient legend passed down from the ancestors, an uninvited guest showed up at a cookout in the time before time. After having one too many cups of a premium beverage, the guest got a little too belligerent. An impromptu challenge ceremony broke out, knocking over the entire pot of fish grease, and the guest was forever banished from all Wakandan cookout-related activities.


Their descendants are now called the Jabari Tribe.

Don’t forget to bring something.

Showing up empty-handed is specifically forbidden. Cookouts are community events, and you must bring something, even if it is store-bought. (Everyone in Wakanda is black, so even store-bought macaroni is still good.) Please preseason all meat with Lawry’s Seasoned Salt (the only salt sold in Wakanda).


Everyone here can afford it because all citizens of Wakanda receive a monthly WIC voucher to subsidize the important things (Women, Infants and Cookouts). If you dare show up without a contribution, not only will you be escorted from the premises, but you will be expelled from the country.

We’re thinking of building a wall.

You eat what we cook.

Because America is not a cookout-based society, you may have some anxiety about our foods. Because we are colonizer-free, you don’t have to ask who made the dish before you eat it. All potato salad in Wakanda is made from our national potato-salad recipe that is taught in the Wakanda public school system. In fact, our standardized testing revolves around science, math, history, language and cultural arts including macaroniology, barbecue studies and potato saladomics.


Guests interested in premium beverages can enjoy our selection of fine Brown Liquor. If you think the previous sentence contains a typo, it does not. Brown Liquor is the official brand of the Wakandan Empire. It is made from the finest purple-hearted flowers, fermented in the truck of a 1988 Buick Regal and aged in an abandoned vibranium cave until it reaches an alcohol content of 492 percent—slightly less than Wray & Nephew Overproof Rum.

You do not have to worry about special diets while visiting our nation. Diabetes and hypertension don’t exist here. Our Wakandacare system has stamped out most disease and even fixed Zuri’s bad eye. (Which might be why his ribs are so good. Either that or he just looks like everyone’s uncle who wears short sets with sandals and calls himself “the grill whisperer.”)


For those who don’t eat beef or pork, we have a great selection of fresh fried fish, and our beverages include water, Kool-Aid and name-brand sodas.

In Wakanda, NuGrape is a name brand.

For guests who require a vegan diet, we suggest you attend a Jabari barbecue.

You’re going to need some lotion and mosquito repellent.

And please don’t think Skin So Soft will protect you from being bitten. Wakandan mosquitoes will laugh at that bullshit. You need the special brand of mosquito repellent called Real Motherfucking Deep Woods Off.


Eighty-seven percent of tourist deaths are caused by malaria-related illnesses contracted during a visit to Wakanda. (The other 13 percent are people who smoke too much Wakanda weed and try to ride one of our armed rhinos. Don’t do that.)

If you notice, people from Wakanda are very moisturized. That’s because ashiness is a misdemeanor offense in our country. Because of this, you may notice that our lotion seems to be different. It is a proprietary blend of jojoba oil, eucalyptus and white tears that has a higher viscosity than even Jergens or Eucerin.


There are many who believe that we have war dogs stationed around the word as spies, but we are a peaceful people. Those secret agents are positioned around the globe to collect and send white tears back to their home country to keep our skin glowing. Our elbows, the backs of our heels, and that little piece of meat between the thumb and forefingers are still ash-free even after we’ve stood over a grill cooking zebra ribs all day.

White tears make our melanin pop.

A brief word about our cookout games.

Our cookouts are known for the fun games and activities.

Because the American education system does not match up to Wakanda’s concentration on STEM subjects, we would suggest that you just watch our table games. Our children begin studying trigonometry in Wakandegarten (equivalent to your kindergarten), and our fourth-grade statistics-and-probability program makes it very difficult to compete in dominoes on a Wakandan level.


As with dominoes, spades in Wakanda is a highly competitive sport. At only 19 years old, Shuri has analytic skills that made her the 15-time champion of the World Series of Spades Tournament (broadcast on ESPN 38).

If you decide to play, you should be aware that the little joker is the card with a full-color photograph of T’Challa on it. The big joker is the black-and-white card with the word “guarantee” on it and a picture of Donald Trump. While this may seem oxymoronic, ever since he made the “shithole countries” comment, we have considered Trump to be the country’s biggest joke.


Although there is no crime in our country, our prison system is mostly filled with Americans who attended a cookout, played spades and reneged. In Wakanda, a reneging violation is subject to 10 years in prison and a 27 vibranium fine. Again, we take it seriously.

We suggest that you play something suited to your sensibilities, like Uno, checkers or Hungry Hungry Hippo.



Accepting an invitation to a cookout in Wakanda comes with the implicit agreement that you will follow our rules, some of which may be unfamiliar:

  • The men fix the women a plate: While we try not to conform to gender roles, the only sexist rule in Wakanda is that the Dora Milaje always get the big piece of chicken.
  • Do not pour out liquor for the people who are not here: Brown Liquor is too expensive. Our ancestors exist on a spiritual plane that is defined by a 24-hour-a-day, seven-day-a-week, perpetual cookout. Plus, they ain’t here!
  • Leave T’Challa alone: Aside from his part-time job with the Avengers, the kingly duties in Wakanda are basically limited to attending cookouts. Please do not bother him by asking if he will take a selfie or if you can try on the Black Panther suit. The suit is custom-made to his body specifications, and it costs a lot to dry-clean.
  • Only one to-go plate: Don’t be greedy. Also, if you are going to fix yourself a plate, bring your own vibranium foil.
  • Watch your kids: As we previously mentioned, Wakanda is a community-based society that exists with the understanding that it takes a village to raise a child. We don’t believe in corporal punishment, but we will spank your badass kids. ... Wait, that’s what corporal punishment means? OK. Scratch that. We believe in corporal punishment. Also, your kids should know that there are a lot of switches in Wakanda.
  • Music: All cookouts in Wakanda are required to play one Maze Featuring Frankie Beverly song, one Earth, Wind & Fire song, one gospel song and one song that makes the elders ask why all the new music sounds the same. Everyone must do at least one dance while attending a cookout, and if you don’t at least know the Electric Slide, your passport will be revoked.
  • Leaving time: There is no set endpoint for a cookout in Wakanda, but once only 10 people are left, your presence is understood as an acknowledgment that you will help clean up. Some of us have to work in the vibranium mines tomorrow. We can’t hang out all night.

We recommend that you carry this handy guide with you when you visit our great land. Cookouts are a year-round thing in Wakanda, so after you take your required rhythm-and-seasoning standardized admissions tests and show your black card, and our customs officials search your luggage for contraband and your iPod for Taylor Swift songs, we welcome you with open arms!

Wakanda forever!

World-renowned wypipologist. Getter and doer of "it." Never reneged, never will. Last real negus alive.



What did I just read?

(Also, friendly reminder to visit, enjoy, and appreciate an actual African country, instead of weirdly fantasizing about bbq/dominos/BlackAmericanized Wakanda.)