Film

3 Alternative History Timelines That Are Way Better Than 'Confederate'

In light of the controversy around HBO's new show 'Confederate,' this contributor gives us better timelines that should be picked up instead.

DIASPORA—I am almost certain that HBO and its artistic partners, David Benioff and D.B. Weiss, creators of the hit series Game of Thrones did not predict the backlash that has accompanied the announcement of their new project, Confederate—a series, which according to the press release, “takes place in an alternative timeline where the southern states have successfully seceded from the Union, giving rise to a nation in which slavery remains legal and has evolved into a modern institution.”


While cities of the short-lived confederacy like New Orleans, Richmond, and Charlottesville have kept demolition crews busy unmounting monuments to an acrimonious past, the network that recently gave us Insecure and The Defiant Ones has been busy stewing fodder for the Richard Spencer and neo-confederate “it’s not racism, it’s tradition” crowd.

Confederate comes barely a year after the release of Ava DuVernay’s outrage inducing 13TH. Named for the 13th amendment of the U.S. Constitution, which freed enslaved Africans, DuVernay’s documentary was a scathing examination of the disproportion number of African-Americans incarcerated in the U.S. criminal justice system; a system which some argue is a modern rendition of antebellum sensibilities.

Artistic license notwithstanding, HBO’s decision to develop Confederate couldn’t be more untimely, especially when one considers that in the backdrop of this Strom Thurmond wet dream of a series is an administration that seems bent on undoing some of the progress made to address the country’s history of racial injustice.

If the appointment of a Klan-friendly gnome as the country’s top law-enforcement official does not compel Confederate creators to reconsider the ramifications of how their creative endeavor would be read by the different constituencies battling for the American narrative, perhaps the ensuing backlash might force them to reconsider.

While I understand that HBO is primarily answerable to its shareholders and probably doesn’t give a fuck whether or not this creative endeavor emboldens latter-day wizards of the David Duke School of Hate, or pisses off some dreadlocked writer subsisting on the margins of mainstream US discourse, I have taken it upon myself to concoct a few pitches for its competitors framed around alternative timelines.

THE FORT

What if none of the white people who sailed to the West African shore never lived to tell their story. In that alternative timeline, the Oyo, Asante, Mende, Fang, Bakongo and Duala ally to defend their territories against peddlers of human cargo. What if, rather than genuflect to the whims of these bible bearing hunters of men, the Oonis, Obas, Emirs, and Asantehene conspire to build a wall so formidable not even their biggest cannons could blast past it.

THE FORT could chronicle events leading up to the partition of rogue states like Holland, Portugal, Spain, England and France by an alliance of African powers and their strategic partners in the Indian subcontinent and Ottoman empire. In this reality, monotheism is a crime and bands of savants traverse the Sahara, and Mediterranean to spread the good news of ancestor worship. THE FORT promises to take audiences on an adventure that would imagine outcomes that would challenge their notions of history and human nature. Written Ben Okri, the British-Nigerian magical realist, this series will showcase the work of Laolu Senbanjo, the artist responsible for the body art in Beyoncé’s Lemonade.

AXIS

What if the Allied powers’ efforts against The Reich’s war machine as it blitzed its way through the Eastern and Western fronts had failed; would the swastika have flown over Red Square? Would Johann Wolfgang von Goethe been the global reference for artistic excellence?

AXIS could chronicle events leading to the “Hot War” that dispossessed colonial powers of their colonies, and re-envisioned a new world order were forced labor of non-AXIS members is a norm. Imagine a world in which Slovakia and Bulgaria are prominent members of the international community. AXIS could follow a group of cartographers from who traverse the globe redrawing boundaries disrupted by the Axis victory in World War 2.

AXIS could be co-written by Kenyan Caine Prize winner Binyavanga Wainana (One Day I Will Write About this Place) and Indian-born Booker Prize winner Arundhati Roy (The Ministry of Utmost Happiness). They could also serve as creative consultants to the director, Raoul Peck, whose grasp of historical narratives at the margins of Western civilization is unmatched.

SOUTHAMPTON

What if Nat Turner’s rebellion had succeeded to mobilize the majority of enslaved Africans in the Mid-Atlantic region to overturn the plantation order? Imagine an alternative timeline in which North America is a balkanized territory where formerly enslaved Africans, with the help of allies in the Republics of Santo Domingo and Jamaica, govern an area where the Scots, Irish, Welsh, Dutch and Southern European people are traded on town squares like beaver pelts.

SOUTHAMPTON could chronicle the events following the declaration of the new republic, which stretches from its northernmost end in Virginia to its southernmost edge in the Florida Keys. The series could be written by Nate Parker, while Spike Lee, known for his fearlessness and decades’ long experience telling difficult stories, could serve as director for what promises to be a fascinating project.

Any takers?

Kangsen Feka Wakai was born in Cameroon. His writings have appeared in Chimurenga’s The Chronic, Transition, Callaloo and Post No Ills Magazine. He lives in Washington, D.C. Follow him on Twitter @KfWakai.

popular

Former UN Secretary General and Nobel Peace Laureate, Kofi Annan, Has Died

The celebrated Ghanaian humanitarian and the first black African to serve as head of the UN, passed away on Saturday at the age of 80.

Kofi Annan, the seventh UN Secretary General and Nobel Peace Laureate, passed away on Saturday morning following a brief illness. "His wife Nane and their children Ama, Kojo and Nina were by his side during the last days," read a family statement. He was 80.

Annan was the first black African to serve as head of the United Nations, holding the prestigious position from 1997 to 2006. He was lauded for his global humanitarian work, eventually earning Annan and the UN a Nobel Peace Prize in 2001 for "their work for a better organized and more peaceful world."

Annan was head of the UN during the onslaught of the Iraq War, proving to be one of the most challenging global events to occur under his time as Secretary General and one of the most divisive of the early 21st century. "I think the worst moment of course was the Iraq war, which as an organization we couldn't stop—and I really did everything I can to try to see if we can stop it," he said in 2006.

Annan was also the founder of the Kofi Annan foundation and chairman of The Elders, an international humanitarian organization of global leaders founded by Nelson Mandela.

Keep reading... Show less
popular

Janet Jackson Returns With Afrobeats-Inspired Song & Video 'Made For Now' Featuring Daddy Yankee

The icon's latest is a nod to the sound, fashion and culture of the diaspora.

Ms. Jackson is back.

The iconic artist returns with her first single since the release of her 2015 album Unbreakable, and it's a timely nod to the "made for now" influence of afrobeats fashion, sound and culture.

On "Made For Now," which features Puerto Rican reggaeton titan Daddy Yankee, Janet Jackson does what she's done successfully so many times throughout her decades-long career: provide an infectious, party-worthy tune that's fun and undeniably easy to dance to. "If you're living for the moment, don't stop," Jackson sings atop production which fuses dancehall, reggaeton and afrobeats.

The New York-shot music video is just as lively, filled with eye-catching diasporic influences, from the wax-print ensembles and beads both Janet and her dancers wear to the choreographed afrobeats-tinged dance numbers, which see the dancers hitting the Shoki at one point in the video. The train of dancers travel throughout the streets of Brooklyn, taking over apartment buildings and rooftops with spirited moves.

Keep reading... Show less
Audio

You Need to Hear Juls' New Single 'Saa Ara'


New hip-hop and highlife grooves from the celebrated UK-based Ghanaian producer.

By merging the diverse influence of growing up in Accra and East London, Juls has managed to cultivate a hybrid afrobeats style that has set him apart from the rest.

For his latest single, "Saa Ara," he teams up with award-winning rapper Kwesi Arthur and gifted lyricist Akan.

The brilliant fusion of vintage highlife instrumentals and booming hip-hop beats, along with Kwesi Arthur's lively chorus and Akan's fiery delivery gives the song a very spiritual and classical feel.

Soothe your soul this weekend with these tasteful sounds from Juls.

Listen to "Saa Ara" by Juls featuring Kwesi Arthur and Akan below.

Keep reading... Show less

get okayafrica in your inbox

news.

popular.