After an exceptionally long break, I’m glad to announce that the AfroCyberPunk blog is finally back in session with a totally brand new and exciting mission! When I published my very first post on the AfroCyberPunk blog some four years ago, my intention was to add a new perspective to the existing discussion on African science fiction at the time, by highlighting the relevance of cyberpunk themes in the reality of everyday life in Africa. I had just started writing my own cyberpunk novel around then and was beginning to notice the parallels between the Gibson-esque high-tech dystopian setting and the Africa in which I lived; the uneven patchwork of technological advancement permeating the entire spectrum of society; the booming industry of cyber-crime and its assimilation of traditional African mythology; the rapidly expanding gap between obscene wealth and abject poverty, symbolized by jarring contrasts such as multi-million-dollar high-rise apartments towering above oceans of shantytowns.
This sort of imagery is what first inspired me to publish this blog, however, my main interest has always been to explore the underlying factors driving these rapid changes in Africa, and to imagine what effects they are likely to have in the near and distant future. And so I’ve decided to expand the focus of this blog beyond science fiction and cyberpunk exclusively to a much broader discussion of African futurism. This may include but isn’t limited to areas like arts, culture, technology, fashion, music, design and innovation, business and commmerce, etc. The goal is to incorporate and examine past and contemporary representations of Afrofuturism and use these as the basis for a critical dialogue about the future of Africa.
To quote the newly updated About page, “the AfroCyberPunk blog is dedicated to exploring the future of Africa in every way possible; by examining artistic expressions of Afrofuturism in science and speculative fiction across various forms of media, relevant news and current events about ongoing socioeconomic, political, and technological developments, as well as academic discourses on issues and trends concerning the future of this incredibly diverse continent. As Africa enters a new era of accelerated development, this blog aims to create a unique conceptual space in which to explore the various scenarios we are likely to encounter in the near and distant future, and to imagine how we might begin to address the enormous challenges and incredible opportunities that may soon become reality.”
I’m really excited to finally begin this new journey for the blog, which has actually been on my mind for about a year now. There were a number of reasons for the slump in activity over this period, but most of all I had to concentrate on successfully completing my applied project dissertation, which was an incredibly exhausting(!!!) but equally fulfilling experience which has resulted in the beginning of an exciting new venture into social entrepreneurship. I’ll go into more detail on this in later posts, as it’s quite relevant to the new focus on futurism. From now onwards, I should have enough time to concentrate my full attention on the blog and the completion of my (still-in-progress) novel, unless of course some horrendously improbable fate should happen to befall me, like an X-Files-style extra-terrestrial cattle rustling and abduction scenario, or a freak bedroom accident involving a time-traveling Boeing jet engine (and a creepy dude in a bunny suit), or worse – procrastination. But let’s look on the bright side, shall we?
It’s only right that I take this opportunity to thank everyone who has played a part in spreading the word about AfroCyberPunk and supporting my efforts over the years. The blog could not have survived this long without the championing efforts of Johnny Laird and Cheryl Morgan, the timely promotion on Lavie Tidhar’s World SF Blog, the encouragement I received from veteran African SF authors like Ivor Hartmann and Nnedi Okorafor, the much-appreciated recogition from Bruce Sterling and exposure from Warren Ellis, my participation in the BBC radio documentary on African SF thanks to the show’s producer, Deborah Basckin, my continued support in hosting from a kind philanthropist who wishes to remain unnamed, the positive and critical feedback from readers, and all those who have published my work and referenced my ideas in articles, papers, and presentations, and many others who I cannot mention now but will do my best to acknowledge in due time.
So what next, you ask? In my next post, we’ll immediately dive right into this Afrofuturism business with a review of a new novel called ‘Nigerians in Space,’ a mystery/thriller novel by Nigerian writer Deji Olukotun. Afterwards, we might discuss some of the very interesting and highly relevant projects which I’m currently involved in, with the aim of connecting the dots between technological innovation, social entrepreneurship and their long-term implications for the continent. And finally, we’ll scan the surrounding star-systems for gravitational readings, plot our trajectory into the navigator, and floor the throttle of the hyperspace drive as we blast off into the farthest reaches of space and time on this epic journey into the future of Africa.
Cover image obtained & modified from: http://www.sanguinesoul.com/2010/03/episode-51-daft-in-africa-ft-proof-and-freddy-anzures/