BY Stephen Nartey, 3:30pm December 12, 2022,

Ethiopian-American designer shares the meaning of each of his 5 chairs featured in Black Panther 2

The Wakanda Forever set, featuring the ‘Boraatii’ and ‘Ashanti’ stools by Jomo Tariku (Image credit: Courtesy Marvel Studios)

You may have noticed five distinct chairs of African origin in the last scenes of the $250 million Black Panther: Wakanda Forever movie, and wondered what they mean and their significance.

At face value, Ethiopian-American designer Jomo Tariku, who is behind the symbolic chairs, said his idea was to export the work of Black designers to a diverse audience and promote the African heritage. Tariku’s artistic work is a result of the inspiration he draws from his early childhood days in Ethiopia, as reported by Dezeen.

These five chairs which were showcased in Wakanda Forever are Nyala, Mukecha, Boraatii, Ashanti and Dogon. The Nyala was featured at the end of the living room of Wakanda Forever. Tariku drew inspiration from the Nyala mountain antelope from the Bale Mountains in East Africa. The horns and legs of the antelope provided the stimulation for the carving of the armrests and legs of the chair.

He said he connects with nature and that is where he picks most of his designs. He said another area where he draws inspiration is from books and research he conducts. He added that when the inspiration hits him from observing the things he loves, he quickly pencils silhouettes down for later carvings of the artistic work. The result, according to him, is the Nyala chair in the high-impact movie.

The Mukecha also appeared in the wrapping scene of Wakanda Forever in the same setting as Nyala. The Mukecha is a wooden chair consisting of orange rings, referencing the neck rings on the bronze busts from the kingdom of Benin. “We have barely touched our own resources to do design work as Africans,” he told Dezeen. “We have a lot to contribute to the library of design by using our culture so within the limited time I have in proceeding with my career, I want to highlight the works of obviously myself and other African designers.”

The Boraatii, according to Tariku, was one of the three significant works the Wakanda Forever team wanted badly on sets including Ashanti and Dogon. They wanted the work in its authentic form with no embellishments.

The Boraatii is quite novel and has no links to any ancient design. The Boraatii has a triangular base that was inspired by a headrest of Ethiopian origin. He said these are works that he invested a lot of man-hours in carving. He explained that when he has major work, he solicits support from other builders to carry it through, but, it was different with the Wakanda Forever project. 

Tariku said with the Ashanti stool, he picked the art impressions from the West African nation of Ghana. He said he has a certain affinity for Ashanti stools and it is one of his prized works of art. He said his difficulty is how to produce an Ashanti stool that has a touch of originality but does differ a bit from the traditional ones.  

He said one distinct feature about how he names his works is closely linked with where he either got the inspiration or the country it is associated with. The Ashanti stool, for example, is connected to the Ashanti traditional area in Ghana hence the name, he said.

The designer said the Dogon is what sums up the African heritage he sought to portray. He assembled the five chairs in the final scene of Wakanda Forever. He added a touch of a historical relic to give the scene a variety of African culture with coffee pots called Ebena and basket tables from Ethiopia.

Last Edited by:Mildred Europa Taylor Updated: December 12, 2022


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