Emirates News Agency – SIBF 2023 hosts Nobel laureate to discuss emergence of ‘Afrofuturism’ in global discourse

SHARJAH, 4th November, 2023 (WAM) — As part of the cultural programme curated by the 42nd edition of the Sharjah International Book Fair (SIBF), the spotlight was cast upon the esteemed Nigerian Nobel laureate, Wole Soyinka. In an engaging discussion, Wole Soyinka and the distinguished Sudanese poet, Alim Abbas, captivated the audience with their enlightening discussion titled ‘Exploring Afrofuturism: Reimagining Black Identity and Culture in Contemporary Literature’.

In a room filled with literary enthusiasts, the two authors explored how Africa should be portrayed in the rapidly growing world of literature. The session began with the moderator setting the stage, emphasising the emerging movement within contemporary African literature, which envisions a future that is firmly grounded in a reimagined and redefined sense of identity and culture.

This movement, known as Afrofuturism, is, in the words of Wole Soyinka, “encapsulating a visionary blend of science fiction, historical fiction, and magical realism, serving as a conduit for the exploration and reimagining of the black experience.” By weaving elements of technology, ancient traditions, and a deep-seated cultural pride, Afrofuturist writers carve out a unique space where the past, present, and future converge in exhilarating ways.

Through their literary prowess, new authors are crafting tales that challenge conventional notions of time and space while honouring the richness of African heritage. These academic pioneers infuse their works with a vibrant tapestry of mythologies, folklore, and cutting-edge technological innovations, constructing a narrative landscape that celebrates resilience and cultural dynamism.

Expanding on this concept Soyinka said, “Within the realm of Afrofuturism, the exploration of identity takes the helm, delving into the complexities of what it means to be black in a rapidly evolving world. Through their protagonists, these writers navigate themes of displacement, cultural erasure, and the quest for self-discovery, offering a lens through which readers can reflect on the multifaceted nature of the African experience.”

Alim Abbas, on the other hand, noted that the impact of Afrofuturism extends beyond the realms of literature and permeates various art forms. He further pointed out that the infusion of futuristic elements into traditional African aesthetics has sparked a global renaissance, fostering a sense of empowerment and cultural pride among individuals of African descent.

Abbas gave the audience his perspective of the emerging genre saying, “Afrofuturism stands as a testament to the power of storytelling as a vehicle for transformation and empowerment. By embracing the boundless potential of the imagination, Afrofuturist authors continue to redefine the narrative of black identity and culture, forging a path toward a future that is both technologically advanced and deeply rooted in the essence of African heritage.”

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