Instagram is currently my favourite social media site, as it allows you to venture out of your bubble of friends, family, coworkers, and acquaintances you regret adding to your Facebook friends list. As an individual who spends a good chunk of my precious time procrastinating (or what I like to call ‘conscious cunctation’) by creeping folks’ pages I came across a phenomenon known as Afrofuturism. Clearly many have been in the know for a while, but it is a relatively new phenomenon to me, and I’m sure for many others out there.
The term was coined by writer Mark Dery in his essay titled “Black to the Future” which essentially used to describe the world of tomorrow today through an afrocentric lens, visualized through art, music, theater and academics. With such diversity in the diasporan universe, it’s clear that the definition of Afrofuturism is bound to differ from person to person, and that’s the beauty of it!
Noted artists that I did that I now know are afrofrofuturists include writer Octavia Butler, funkadelic George Clinton, and Janelle Monae. The Electric Lady’s android alter-ego, Cindi Mayweather, is prominently featured in her work.
The much buzzed-about short film Afronauts by Ghanian filmmaker Frances Bodomo was part of the official selection of the 2014 Sundance Film Festival. The 15 minute film centers around an abandoned space project in Zambia in the 1960s. Stunning albino supermodel Diandra Forrest plays the titular character.
Another Ghanian making waves in the eclectic world of Afrofuturism is Esie Mensah, an award-winning dancer/choreographer based in Canada.
I had the pleasure of attending a free showing of Zayo at the Harobourfront Centre in Toronto. Zayo– which means ‘future’ in Zulu- is a heart-thumping spectacle seamlessly blending styles of artistic expression of the African diaspora. Everything from Maya Angelou’s poetry, Nigeria’s Godfather of Afrobeats Fela Kuti, Ivory Coast’s Meiway, and even the infectious Afro House beats of Mafikizolo. After one hour the audience was left wanting more. Zayo will be playing again on March 10th; you can find me at the front row, I’ll save you a spot.