Afrofuturism is a term that emerged in the mid 1990’s coined by cultural critic Mark Dery who affixed the term to the growing artistic movement and critiques that followed narratives of people of African descent in sci-fi futuristic treaties. At its center it is the language of alienation, covering themes that explore issues of identity and marginalization and giving thought to what it means to be black through space, time and the present. Ingrid Lafleur, an art curator and Afrofuturist generally defines Afro futurism as a way of imaging possible futures through a black cultural lens.
While the term was originally used to refer specifically to the African-American experience, the term recently appeared in South Africa’s creative culture. Spoek Mathambo, South African DJ and founder of township tech electronica and Okmalumkoolkat whose sound is described as a fusion of hip hop, techno, digital maskandi and new wave, have been described as deeply Afrofuturistic. Manthe Ribane, an all-round creative engine, the Dear Ribane sibling collective and Yannick Ilunga,
the South African musician who records under the name Petite Noir who falls part of rock and electronic music circles, and other local musicians like ‘computer girl’ Zaki Ibrahim and Moonchild have also been described as belonging to realm of Afrofuturism. Afrofuturism is an exploration and mythology of liberation, simultaneously both location and a journey, and many young local artists are taking afrofuturism as a starting point to make sense of their own experiences.
Zimbabwean-born artist Gerald Machona now based in Cape Town, uses Afrofutirism as a way to debate about xhenophobia. His work moves towards Afrofuturist literature and visual aesthetic.
Afrofuturism is said to be more apparent during some moments in time more than others; as a trend, it ebbs and flows. Tegan Bristow, lecture at Wits School of Arts, believes that at it’s core, it’s a way to change perception of what it means to be black, and by extension what it means to be African. Afrofuturism as a transversal tendency through popular culture is acting to destabilize what people thought black identity was and what pop culture and pop identity were.
Afrofuturism is a constant evolution, allowing Africans to tell their own stories and find a sense of belonging in the movement and empower themselves.