Bashenga is chieftain to the Wakandans and the first Black Panther-mantle wearer.
The First Black Panther
Following a meteor crashing into Wakanda and leaving behind a rare ore called Vibranium, Bashenga closes the mound that it lands on and forms the Cult of the Panther to protect this valuable metal. The Wakandans learn to employ that metal into their spearheads while it transforms others into monsters. Within that cult, Bashenga bears the title of Black Panther and serves as its chieftain.
As part of becoming the Black Panther, Bashenga imbibes the heart-shaped herb found at Mount Kanda, which grants him low-level superhuman abilities, and a mystical connection to Bast, AKA the Panther God.
Bashenga ingests the heart-shaped herb and doing so enhances his senses and physical attributes to near-superhuman levels. He’s able to lift up to 750 pounds and his eyesight and night vision are exceptional. He can use sight and smell to track a trail in the jungle for up to twelve hours. Bashenga often wields a spear, which becomes known as Staff of Bashenga, and those who possess it are typically marked as the chieftain of Wakanda. Bashenga is also a capable armed combatant.
Line of Succession
The Wakandans are a secretive people, and therefore Bashenga as Black Panther served to protect and control Wakanda’s borders from outsiders. Since then, Wakanda’s borders have been carefully controlled and Bashenga helped establish what would become a long line of Black Panthers.