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Post-Apocalyptic Africa

Are We Ready For African Sci- Fi?

By Lakeesha J. Harris
On March 11, 2011


While introducing Dr. Nnedi Okorafor, Professor of English at NEIU – Dr. Chielozona Eze, described a fierce, and award winning, women writer who grew to love everything in her environment; "…as a girl she wanted to be an Entomologist…her characters are intrinsically connected to talking insects and, of course, the earth". While presenting her book Who Fears Death, at the screening of the movie Pumzi, Dr. Okorafor confirms that the love of her beloved Africa and her connection to her Nigerian roots has informed her writing thus far. "When I started reading sci-fi I didn't see the Africa that I knew portrayed."
Dr. Okorafor's writing speculates and fantasizes on the Africa of the future "blending the old with the new" as she is quite often fascinated with the way her people of Africa do this. "Women would go to the store to get water, because in many places in Africa there is still no running water, but then I would see them with a cell phone in their hands."
Senior student, Bolanle Emmanuel-Egobi asked if Dr. Okorafor planned to adapt any books to film. She responded that she is working with producers in Nollywood – Nigeria's Hollywood equivalent – to adapt her work. For Dr. Okorafor, however, writing science fiction from a Nigerian perspective hasn't been an easy task, as science fiction seems to only exist from the vantage point of the western world. This is the very reason that films such as Pumzi and writer's like Okorafor are essential. "Science fiction is a revolutionary genre encompassing visions of the future. If we have no Africans out there writing it, this means that African's can't envision our future," said Okorafor.
Fellow panelists included: Dr. Jeanine Nthrigeza, Dr. Shannon Gore, and Dr. Marshall Thompson. The audience participated in a lively discussion with the group about the topic of science fiction, the politics of Africa, and imagining Africa's future. Many left the screening more informed about the genre itself.

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