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Africanfuturism is a cultural aesthetic and philosophy of science that centers on the fusion of African culture, history, mythology, point of view, with technology based in Africa and not limiting to the diaspora. [1] [2] It was coined by Nigerian American writer Nnedi Okorafor in 2019 in a blog post as a single word. Nnedi Okorafor defines Africanfuturism as a sub-category of science fiction that is "directly rooted in African culture, history, mythology and point-of-view..and...does not privilege or center the West," is centered with optimistic "visions in the future," and is written (and centered on) "people of African descent" while rooted in the African continent. As such its center is African, often does extend upon the continent of Africa, and includes the Black diaspora, including fantasy that is set in the future, making a narrative "more science fiction than fantasy" and typically has mystical elements. [3] It is different from Afrofuturism, which focuses mainly on the African diaspora, particularly the United States. Works of Africanfuturism include science fiction, fantasy, alternate history, horror and magic realism.


Writers of Africanfuturism include Nnedi Okorafor, Tochi Onyebuchi, Oghenechovwe Donald Ekpeki, Tade Thompson, Namwali Serpell, Sofia Samatar, Wole Talabi, Suyi Davies Okungbowa and Dandy Jackson Chukwudi. [4] [5]


Early beginnings

Works of Africanfuturism have long existed and have been assigned to Afrofuturism. Themes of Africanfuturism can be traced back to Buchi Emecheta's 1983 novel The Rape Of Shavi and Ben Okri's 1991 novel The Famished Road . [6]

21st century

Nnedi Okorafor, author credited for coining the word "Africanfuturism" Nnedi Okorafor.jpg
Nnedi Okorafor, author credited for coining the word "Africanfuturism"

In 2019 and 2020, African writers began to reject the term Afrofuturism because of the differences between both genres with Africanfuturism focusing more on African point of view, culture, themes and history as opposed to Afrofuturism which covers African diaspora history, culture and themes. [7] The speculative fiction magazine Omenana and the Nommo Awards presented by The African Speculative Fiction Society launched in 2017 helped to widen the content of the genre. [8]

In August 2020, Hope Wabuke, a writer and assistant professor at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln of English and Creative Writing, noted that Afrofuturism, coined by Mark Dery, a White critic, in 1993, treats African-American themes and concerns in the "context of twentieth-century technoculture," which was later expanded by Alondra Nelson, arguing that Dery's conception of Blackness began in 1619 and "is marked solely by the ensuing 400 years of violation by whiteness" that he portrayed as "potentially irreparable." [6] Critical of this definition, saying it lacks the qualities of the "Black American diasporic imagination" and ability to conceive of "Blackness outside of the Black American diaspora" or independent from Whiteness, she noted that "Africanfuturism" is different because it is, according to Nnedi Okorafor, more deeply rooted in "African culture, history, mythology and point-of-view as it then branches into the Black diaspora, and it does not privilege or center the West," while explaining Africanjujuism as a subcategory of fantasy. Wabuke further explains how Africanfuturism is more specific and rids itself of the "othering of the white gaze and the de facto colonial Western mindset," free from what she calls the "white Western gaze" and saying this is the main difference "between Afrofuturism and Africanfuturism." She adds that, in her view, Africanfuturism has a different outlook and perspective than "mainstream Western and American science fiction and fantasy" and even Afrofuturism which is "married to the white Western gaze." Wabuke goes on to explain Africanfuturist and Africanjujuist themes in Okorafor's Who Fears Death and Zahrah the Windseeker , Akwaeke Emezi's Pet , and Buchi Emecheta's The Rape of Shavi . [6]

In February 2021, Aigner Loren Wilson of explained the difficulty of finding books in the subgenre because many institutions "treat Africanfuturism and Afrofuturism like the same thing" even though the distinction between them is plain. She said that Africanfuturism is "centered in and about Africa and their people" while Afrofuturism is a sci-fi subcategory which is about "Black people within the diaspora," often including stories of those outside Africa, including in "colonized Western societies.". [9] Another reviewer called Okorafor's Lagoon , which "recounts the story of the arrival of aliens in Nigeria," as an Africanfuturist work which requires a reader who is "actively engaged in co-creating the alternative future that the novel is constructing," meaning that the reader becomes part of the "creative conversation." [10]

Literature and comics

Africanfuturism literature features speculative fiction which narrates events centered on Africa from an African point of view rather than a Western point of view. Works of Africanfuturism literature are still wrongly categorized as Afrofuturism.[ citation needed ]

Works of Nigerian American writer Nnedi Okorafor are often in the Africanfuturism genre with her works like Who Fears Death , Lagoon , Remote Control , The Book of Phoenix and Noor . She won a Hugo and Nebula award for her novella Binti , the first from the Binti trilogy which features a native Himba girl from Namibia in space. [11] Tade Thompson won a Arthur C. Clarke award for his Africanfuturist novel Rosewater about an alien dome in Nigeria [12] and Zambian writer Namwali Serpell's The Old Drift won the same award.

In 2020, Africanfuturism: An Anthology edited by Wole Talabi was published by Brittle Paper and as of the end of 2022 is currently still offered for free on its website in celebration of the 10th anniversary of this publisher which has been called "the village square of African literature". [13] [14] Gary K. Wolfe reviewed this anthology in February 2021. [15] He credits Nnedi Okorafor for coining "Africanfuturism," noting its describes "more Africa-centered SF," although saying he is not sure whether her term "Africanjujuism," a parallel term for fantasy, will catch on. While saying that both are useful, he says that he does not like how they have to "do with the root, not the prefix," with "futurism" only describing a bit of science fiction and fantasy. He still calls the book a "solid anthology," saying it challenges the idea of viewing African science fiction as monolithic. Stories in the book include "Egoli" by T. L. Huchu, "Yat Madit" by Dilman Dila, "Behind Our Irises" by Tlotlo Tsamaase, "Fort Kwame" by Derek Lubangakene, "Rainmaker" by Mazi Nwonwu, "Fruit of the Calabash" by Rafeeat Aliyu, "Lekki Lekki" by Mame Bougouma Diene, and "Sunrise" by Nnedi Okorafor. [15]

When outlined a list of stories and books from the genre as of 2021, Tor also highlighted Africanfuturism: An Anthology (edited by Wole Talabi) along with the individual works of Namwali Serpell's The Old Drift , Nnedi Okorafor's Lagoon , Nicky Drayden's The Prey of Gods , Oghenechovwe Donald Ekpeki's Ife-Iyoku, the Tale of Imadeyunuagbon , and Tochi Onyebuchi's War Girls. [9]

In comics, as of the end of 2022, so far a few Africanfuturism comics exist. Comic Republic Global Network, a Lagos-based publisher, is prominent in creating Africanfuturist superheroes like Guardian Prime . [16] [17] Laguardia , a comic book by Nnedi Okorafor, is associated with Africanfuturism. [18]

In films

Africanfuturism movies are often scarce; [19] films like Black Panther have been criticized by some viewers, who say that their depiction of Africa "differs little from the colonial view". [1] In recent times, Africanfuturist movies include Hello, Rain, Pumzi , and Ratnik . Several Africanfuturism novels have been optioned for live adaptation, including Binti and Who Fears Death . [1] [19] In 2020, Walt Disney Studios and Pan African company Kugali announced that they would be co-producing an africanfuturist animated science fiction series, Iwájú , inspired by the city of Lagos. [20] [21]

Related Research Articles

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Afrofuturism</span> Cultural aesthetic and philosophy

Afrofuturism is a cultural aesthetic, and philosophy of science and history that explores the intersection of the African diaspora culture with science and technology. It addresses themes and concerns of the African diaspora through technoculture and speculative fiction, encompassing a range of media and artists with a shared interest in envisioning black futures that stem from Afro-diasporic experiences. While Afrofuturism is most commonly associated with science fiction, it can also encompass other speculative genres such as fantasy, alternate history, and magic realism. The term was coined by Mark Dery, an American Cultural critic in 1993 and explored in the late 1990s through conversations led by Alondra Nelson.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Nnedi Okorafor</span> Nigerian-American writer of science fiction and fantasy

Nnedimma Nkemdili "Nnedi" Okorafor(listen) is a Nigerian-American writer of science fiction and fantasy for both children and adults. She is best known for her Binti Series and her novels Who Fears Death, Zahrah the Windseeker, Akata Witch, Akata Warrior, Lagoon and Remote Control. She has also written for comics and film.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Black science fiction</span> Science fiction involving black people

Black science fiction or black speculative fiction is an umbrella term that covers a variety of activities within the science fiction, fantasy, and horror genres where people of the African diaspora take part or are depicted. Some of its defining characteristics include a critique of the social structures leading to black oppression paired with an investment in social change. Black science fiction is "fed by technology but not led by it." This means that black science fiction often explores with human engagement with technology instead of technology as an innate good.

Dark Matter is an anthology series of science fiction, fantasy, and horror stories and essays produced by people of African descent. The editor of the series is Sheree Thomas. The first book in the series, Dark Matter: A Century of Speculative Fiction from the African Diaspora (2000), won the 2001 World Fantasy Award for Best Anthology. The second book in the Dark Matter series, Dark Matter: Reading the Bones (2004), won the World Fantasy Award for Best Anthology in 2005. A forthcoming third book in the series is tentatively named Dark Matter: Africa Rising.

Speculative fiction is defined as science fiction, fantasy, and horror. Within those categories exists many other subcategories, for example cyberpunk, magical realism, and psychological horror. is an online science fiction and fantasy magazine published by Tor Books, a division of Macmillan Publishers. The magazine publishes articles, reviews, original short fiction, re-reads and commentary on speculative fiction.

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<i>Binti</i> (novella) 2015 science fiction novella by Nnedi Okorafor

Binti is an Africanfuturist science fiction horror novella written by Nnedi Okorafor. The novella was published in 2015 by Binti is the first novella in Okorafor's Binti novella series.

<i>Lagoon</i> (novel) 2014 africanfuturist novel by Nnedi Okorafor

Lagoon is an Africanfuturist novel by Nnedi Okorafor. It has drawn much scholarly attention since its publication, some of which was written before Okorafor's important clarification that her work is "Africanfuturist" rather than "Afrofuturist." In 2014 it was chosen as an honor list title for the James Tiptree Jr. Award.

<i>Remote Control</i> (novella) Novella by Nnedi Okorafor

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Ife-Iyoku, the Tale of Imadeyunuagbon is a fantasy novella by Nigerian speculative fiction writer Oghenechovwe Donald Ekpeki. It was first published Selene Quarterly in August 2019, and republished in Dominion: An Anthology of Speculative Fiction From Africa and the African Diaspora anthology which was published by Aurelia Leo in 2020. The novella received critical reviews.

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Africanfuturism: An Anthology is an Africanfuturism anthology edited by Nigerian author Wole Talabi. It contains eight works of short fiction an introduction written by Wole Talabi. It was published by Brittle Paper in October 2020.

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