New York Times bestselling author Ibi Zoboi takes Okoye to America in “Okoye to the People”
Before becoming a multifaceted warrior and confident leader of the Dora Milaje, Okoye was adjusting to her new life and struggling to find her place in Wakanda’s royal guard. Initially excited to receive an assignment for her very first assignment and trip outside of Wakanda, Okoye discovers that her status as Dora Milaje means nothing to New Yorkers.
When she meets teenagers barely younger than her grappling with the gentrification of their beloved Brooklyn neighborhood, her expectations for the world outside her quickly plummet. Getting to know the young people of Brownsville, Okoye uncovers the truth about a manipulative real estate mogul’s plans pulling all the strings, and the real scope of those secret plans.
Caught between fulfilling her duty to her country and listening to her own heart urge her to defend Brownsville, Okoye must determine what kind of Dora Milaje and woman she wants to be.
Marvel.com had the opportunity to speak with Ibi Zoboi about the upcoming Okoye to the people!
Marvel.com: What’s your Marvel origin story?
Ibi Zoboi: As a science fiction fan, I visited the forbidden planet of New York quite often. I have the first volumes of the Black Panther comics. But before that, it was Wesley Snipes as Blade.
Marvel.com: Marvel fans know Okoye as one of Wakanda’s greatest warriors in the Dora Milaje – loyal to her king and to Wakanda. What can you tell us about the young Okoye we meet in Okoye to the people?
Ibi Zoboi: Young Okoye is a warrior in the making. She still has lessons to learn about herself and her place in the world. She wants to prove to Ayo and King T’Chaka that she is worthy of her noble position, but she has a mind of her own. She observes things that are not quite right in Brownsville. Okoye is in a position of immense power to help these teenagers, but she is loyal to the Wakandan throne.
Ultimately, she must decide for what and for whom she fights outside the borders of Wakanda. Okoye has self-doubts, big questions about the world, and tries to figure out where Wakanda fits into all of this. The teenagers, barely younger than her, force her to manage to become a real Dora Milaje.
Marvel.com: What conflict will she encounter in your novel?
Ibi Zoboi: It’s a story of fish out of water and Okoye is forced to see the world with new eyes. What does it mean to be true to Wakanda and all that it represents when there is so much suffering in the world, especially in this neighborhood of Brooklyn? All the things that make Okoye a warrior are tested at Brownsville: her honesty, her sense of fairness. The teens of Brownsville demand more from her and she wants to help them, but at what cost. Brownsville needs protection, but so does Wakanda.
Marvel.com: What attracted you to the character of Okoye?
Ibi Zoboi: I am of Haitian origin and I have known the Amazonian warriors of Dahomey. I have also heard of Queen Nzinga, Yaa Asantewaa, Anacaona and Queen Nanny of the Maroons, warrior women who fought for their people. It was obvious to me to write about Okoye. She is fierce, but gentle; immensely loyal to his people and has a deep sense of pride.
Marvel.com: How did you bring your lived experience to this story (I saw you got recognized for your community programs for teenage girls in Brooklyn and Haiti and the story takes Okoye to Brooklyn)?
Ibi Zoboi: I wanted to bring a fictional superhero to some of the forgotten places I’ve lived in, places that could really use real life heroes. I also didn’t want to erase the people on the ground doing heroic work. In OKOYE TO THE PEOPLEwe meet a local politician and community organizer who is dominated by a more sinister personality and she needs help. There are teenagers who stand up for their community as well and this was inspired by the real-life teenagers I know, both in Haiti and in Brooklyn. I created a cultural exchange program in the form of a poetry collection where teenage girls from Haiti and Brooklyn discuss. I brought this experience to OKOYE TO THE PEOPLE. What would a teenage warrior from Wakanda have to say about the vocal and politically active teenagers of Brooklyn?
Marvel.com: What do you hope young readers take away from the story?
Ibi Zoboi: It’s a fun book just because we already know what Okoye will bring to the table. There is a villain and a hero, but there are villains and smaller heroes that we don’t always recognize who lead the ultimate battle of good and evil. While many of us don’t own a vibranium spear or can’t kick like Okoye, we can still incorporate Dora Milaje’s principles of bravery, loyalty, and honesty into everything we do. .
Okoye to the people hits shelves, wherever books are sold, on March 1, 2022!
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