If the country Wakanda sounds familiar to you, that may be because it’s home of T’Challa, the king of the East African Nation, and the legendary Black Panther. Of course, it’s also fictional, as is T’Challa, and as are his stylish superpowers.
So, why, exactly, was a fictional Afro-futurist utopia populated by awesome superheroes listed on a US Free Trade Agreement? The unusual addition of the Marvel Comics-invented nation was detected Wednesday by Francis Tseng on the Department of Agriculture’s Agricultural Tariff Tracker. It has since been pulled down, but the real question is: Why was Wakanda even on there?
Sadly, Wakanda being in a free trade agreement with the US was not forever. After Tseng pointed out that the fictional nation was on the Department of Agriculture website, the agency removed it from the listing. Hilariously, the entry even included numerous imports from Wakanda, including unroasted coffee beans, essential oils, fresh produce and livestock.
Tseng posted on Twitter, a bit incredulous, asking, “Wakanda is listed as a U.S. free trade partner on the USDA website?” He also posted a screenshot of the fictional African nation appearing alongside real places like Peru and Columbia on the website.
Unfortunately, this isn’t the start of an awesome news story where it’s discovered that Wakanda is real and everyone wants to move there. The reality was much more mundane. It turns out the entry was only there for testing and debugging purposes for the USDA website. Since it’s a fictional place, it would be easy to program in whatever parameters they needed to test for.
“Over the past few weeks, the Foreign Agricultural Service staff who maintain the Tariff Tracker have been using test files to ensure that the system is running properly,” said Mike Illenberg, a spokesman for the USDA. “The Wakanda information should have been removed after testing and has now been taken down.”
Well, at least this little mix up led to one of the most humorous USDA import headlines in a long time. Wakanda forever.