RIP Chadwick Boseman: November 29, 1976 – August 28, 2020

By Nina Steele 

RIP Chadwick BosemanI woke up to the news of Chadwick Boseman’s death and was completely floored. Like millions of people, I watched Black Panther and loved his performance in it. His death has come as a complete shock. Very few people, except those closest to him had known that he had been silently battling colon cancer since 2016. That he carried on making movies while also going through “countless surgeries and chemotherapy” was brave, to say the least.

My first reaction on hearing of his death was, please God, not him! Then again, who am I to tell God what to do. I felt and still feel the kind of pain you feel for someone you deeply care about. Maybe it is because of the times we are currently living through. His death has added another layer to the pain I was already feeling owing to the social unrest and political turmoil currently unfolding in the US.

The official statement from his family reads: “It is with immeasurable grief that we confirm the passing of Chadwick Boseman. Chadwick was diagnosed with stage III colon cancer in 2016 and battled with it these last 4 years as it progressed to stage IV. A true fighter, Chadwick persevered through it all, and brought you many of the films you have come to love so much. From Marshall to Da 5 Bloods, August Wilson’s Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom and several more, all were filmed during and between countless surgeries and chemotherapy. It was the honor of his career to bring King T’Challa to life in Black Panther. He died in his home, with his wife and family by his side. The family thanks you for your love and prayers, and asks that you continue to respect their privacy during this difficult time”.

Predictably, social media was awash with comments about his death, with people keen to emphasise the fact that he died at such a young age. He was 43. As is always the case when people die young, one of the other topics of discussion was the reminder that tomorrow is promised to no one, and how we should all strive to live our best lives.

Among the many condolence messages that poured in on social media, one caught my eye. It reads: “I didn’t know you personally but I feel tremendous aching loss. Thank you sir. You will forever be a hero in our home. Such talent, such bravery, such grace”. I felt and still feel that “tremendous aching loss” too.

Pictures of him, months prior to his death, show him having lost a great deal of weight. Because he kept his illness private, most people assumed that it was something to do with his next role, since actors are known for putting on or losing weight for specific roles. Knowing now what was really going on, is deeply sad.

My heart aches, looking at recent pictures of him smiling. So much dignity and courage. At a time when there is so much division in the US, I hope that his death is a reminder that we are all, regardless of colour, headed for the same ultimate fate.

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