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Is Science Fiction Coming To Africa? Or Is It Already Here?

by Tambay A. Obenson
June 19, 2012 8:37 PM
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Initially it was very difficult for me to imagine a sci-fi story set in Africa... because all the sci-fi I'd been exposed to... had been western sci-fi... mainly centered around the future of the West. It was extremely difficult for me to imagine a future Africa. And when I tried, I even thought that some of the ideas I had were frankly patronizing.

Words from Ghanaian sci-fi writer Jonathan Dotse (who blogs at AfroCyberPunk) from the recent 25-minute BBC Radio documentary below that asks whether science fiction is coming to Africa or if it's already here.

And even though my initial reaction to the hyperbolic BBC doc title specifically was negative (Is Science Fiction Coming To Africa?), I appreciated and learned from the conversations that followed, as host Lauren Beukes (the South African author and winner of the Arthur C. Clarke Award for Science Fiction in 2011, for her novel Zoo City, which is being adapted for the screen) chats with filmmakers Neill Blomkamp (South Africa - director of District 9) and Wanuri Kahiu (Kenya - director of Pumzi), blogger/writer Jonathan Dotse (Ghana), author Nnedi Okorafor (Nigeria/USA - her novel Who Fears Death is being adapted for the screen via Kisha Cameron-Dingle's production shingle, with Wanuri Kahiu attached the direct) and others.

Topics covered center on how their particular experiences have influenced their work, as well as some consideration for the artistic and cultural movement deemed Afrofuturism.

It's a good listen, so give it an ear:

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  • Filmmaker | June 20, 2012 3:31 PMReply

    As a black American female filmmaker, I find this very encouraging news. The world is changing at high speed as the Eurocentric spin on and domination of a great many cultural and financial things appears to be collapsing from within. It will be good seeing people of color tell their own stories their own way finally. And especially by means of cinema. Africa has long been misrepresented by Hollywood. People who sent me this link today actually typed, "Africa has movie studios?" with it.

    That's the problem. I hope more films like this one help to correct that problem.

  • Destiny | June 20, 2012 3:48 PM

    LOL..."Africa has movie studios?" that had me leaning. Obviously they never heard of Nollywood, but no stress. How much can you expect them to know or care about what goes on in Africa. Most of what they know of the people or continent is what is shown on television or films. We shouldn't expect people outside of ourselves to really take a fascination in our own multi-dimensionality or our progress. Just work hard towards making a film that will blow minds.

  • starfishncoffee | June 20, 2012 10:50 AMReply

    I recently read Zoo City, which I quite liked (except for the last chapter where it kind of lost me, but it didn't ruin the whole experience). I'm really interested in exploring more African SciFi especially after hearing a special on the Guardian Books podcast. But especially from Black writers. While I appreciate Beukes and that her protagonist is a Black woman, I'd like a Black woman's voice.

    I still need to see Pumzi. I missed a screening of it.

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