Saturday, May 5, 2018

An African-born Wakanda? Time for Africa's science fiction content creators to come up with their own stories, telling it their way, says Ghana's science fiction writer Jonathan Dotse at MultiChoice's 5th Digital Dialogue Conference.

Have you seen Marvel's recent Black Panther screen adaptation and how African audiences embraced it? It's time for Africa's science fiction content creators to come up with their own science fiction stories, telling it their way instead of relying on just one perspective like that from the Western world.

Jonathan Dotse, an Afrofuturist from Ghana and a science fiction writer, was one of the speakers at the 5th edition of the Digital Dialogue Conference that took place in Dubai in the United Arab Emirate (UAE) this week, organised by MultiChoice.

MultiChoice didn't invite any South African journalists or media to the conference facilitated by the satellite pay-TV operator, and there was no advance media advisory or notification.

The Digital Dialogue Conference is centred around gaining a better understanding of the future direction of the video entertainment industry across Africa as a whole.

According to a summary of his speech provided by MultiChoice in response to a media enquiry, Jonathan Dotse said that together with the success of Black Panther, Afrofuturism is experiencing a resurgence, with a thirst for new perspectives on African stories that can grab the attention of wider audiences.

"Back in 2009, I attempted to write science fiction, however, I was trying to write it from an African perspective but found it difficult to find a believable foundation to build my content," Jonathan Dotse said.

"My ideas were based on a Western perspective so I began to think more about Africa and science fiction in a constructive and realistic way while creating awareness for the lack of Afrocentric narratives in the genre."

Jonathan Dotse said that the African-American diaspora has played a critical role in the recent resurgence of Afrofuturism, referencing various creative works lie the Woyaya album by Ghanaian Afro-pop band Osibisa, the American fiction writer Octavia Butler, the American jazz composer Sun Ra, the American musician Janelle Monae, as well as films like Les Saignantes by Jean-Pierre Bekolo, Pumzi by Wanuri Kahui from Kenya, Robots of Brixton by Kibwe Tavares, Kajola by Niyi Akinmolayan in Nigeria and South Africa's District 9 by Neill Blomkamp.

"Expressions of Afrofuturism are present in all facets of African and African-Diaspora creativity," said Jonathan Dotse. "The African-Diaspora has played a significant role in advancing defining Afrofuturism while various independent movements spurred much of the creative energy".

According to Jonathan Dotse, Afrofuturism has lead to a reawakening of self-identity among African youth, and said that Afrofuturism also helps to grow young people's interest in science and technology - and increases the accessibility to the tools of digital media creation and distribution.

Jonathan Dotse said that the "future prospects" of Afrofuturism includes a reconnection of traditional African culture with modern concepts of development, and reconstructing the missing pieces of Africa's lost history in technology to drive young people in "futurist" thinking.