Science fiction in Africa

Here's a 23-minute BBC World Service documentary about science fiction in Africa, hosted by Zoo City author Lauren Beukes, who speaks to various luminaries, writers and commentators, including District 9 creator Neill Blomkamp.

Beukes hears from film-makers Neill Blomkamp (South Africa - director of the international hit District 9), Wanuri Kahiu (Kenya), blogger Jonathan Dotse (Ghana), writer Nnedi Okorafor (Nigeria/USA) and others on how their particular experiences have influenced their work.

Science fiction often explores the interaction between people and technology. In Africa that theme plays out in surprising ways, from making an appointment with a traditional healer over email, to women in remote villages collecting water while chatting on their mobiles.

It’s this mix of magic and technology, challenge and innovation that shapes the science fiction coming out of the continent.

Leaving behind the traditional visions of a high-tech Tokyo, futuristic LA or dystopian New York, and challenging clichéd views of the entire African continent, this is a science fiction being told by the people who live there.

Is Science Fiction Coming to Africa? (via Afrocyberpunk)


  1. Freakin’ high time someone took an interest on non-Western cultures from a SF perspective…if anyone’s interested in that sort of things, Raphael Carter’s The Fortunate Fallis a must-read – it’s set in Russia, but Africa is hugely important to the plot and has underwent a cultural mutation that’s just amazing. Great book.

  2. “to women in remote villages collecting water while chatting on their mobiles.”

    What a mental image.

    1. That seems no stranger to me than the little kids I see running around talking and texting on their mobiles…

    2. Yeah, what’s so bizarre about this image? The penetration of cell phones into Africa is one of the best things to happen in a long time. Cell phones have helped people get fair prices for their produce, share political news, connect with family, and so on. I have several Nigerian colleagues who routinely exchange calls with family members who live outside the major cities. And its worth keeping in mind that its much easier to install and maintain cell phone infrastructure than it is to maintain wires….

      And I agree with bcsizemo; what’s actually weird is kids aged 8-14 running around with smart phones, or college students wasting tuition money and their own time by sitting in class texting.

  3. – I’m dutch –

    Well, she doesn’t appear too bright, but generally: she’s not a scientist and also propably just partly responsible for the priorities. Considering her performance I would rather have it she follows the priorities as given to her.

  4. I highly recommend Okrafor’s Who Fears Death? It’s a great read. I was sad that I couldn’t immediately read something else by her.

  5. It’s available on iTunes as a podcast as well. Find the World Service Documentary Archive.

    But thanks for the heads up, looks interesting.

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