Arts + Culture

NextGen: Congolese Author Sandra Uwiringiyimana Writes to Keep the African Spirit Alive

The 22-year-old survivor of the Gatumba massacre shares her perspective of Afrofuturism with OkayAfrica in 'NextGen.'

DIASPORAOver the course of July we'll be publishing short profiles, essays and interviews on the theme of "Afrofutures." Together these stories will be a deep dive into the way African and diaspora thinkers, technologists and artists view a future for Africans in the world and outside of it. 


Take a look at our introduction to Afrofuturism here.

Throughout this month, we'll also highlight and celebrate young, leading talents who already put into practice what a future with black people look like through their work in our daily profile series, 'NextGen.'

To close out our series, meet Congolese author Sandra Uwiringiyimana.

Sandra Uwiringiyimana is a 22-year-old author, activist and speaker from the Democratic Republic o f the Congo. As co-founder of the Jimbere Fund, an organization that aims to revitalize distressed communities in the DRC, she helps people in need in vulnerable areas and fights against poverty. Uwiringiyimana's memoir, How Dare The Sun Rise (Harper Collins), sheds light on her experience of being a refugee and battling trauma.

Photo courtesy of Sandra Uwiringiyimana.

Since her family’s resettlement in the United States in 2007, Sandra has used her experience to fight against the social injustice that occurred at the Gatumba massacre and has become a voice for women and girls, refugees and immigrants who have been often overlooked and undervalued. In telling her story, Sandra has shared the world stage with Charlie Rose, Angelina Jolie, and Tina Brown and has spoken at the Women in the World Summit in 2016 while she was still in university. In addition, she has addressed the United Nations Security Council at the request of Ambassador Samantha Power to plead with world leaders to act on the pressing issue of children in armed conflict.

For Uwiringiyimana, Afrofuturism is a vital part of her spreading her message. She believes it means “living in a world that allows black children and youth to see themselves represented in every aspect of society."

Photo by Rick Wenner, courtesy of Sandra Uwiringiyimana.

She continues:

"It means little black girls growing up appreciating their bodies and features. Afrofuturism means not having to tone down my blackness in order to seem more approachable or trustworthy; it means seeing every kind of black person represented, valued and validated," she says.

Sandra is an example of being an African leader and educating those who may not fully understand the African experience. “I want to show young Africans that we are allowed to be multidimensional. I decided to write a memoir at 22 because I was tired of reading stories that didn't reflect my Africa. My greatest hope is that through my activism and work I can demonstrate how to shed light on the problems of many African countries without making it the only narrative that's picked up by the rest of the world. We have many stories to tell and not all of them begin and end with despair. We are artists, adventurers, leaders, and so much more. We are all valid and deserve adequate representation. We do not need western saviors, we need more young Africans to invest in Africa; not just financially but investing our time to learn our history, who we were before all the brainwashing. It is our duty to keep the true African spirit alive and it is ultimately the only way to save ourselves."

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Photo of Nnedi Okorafor by Neilson Barnard/Getty Images.

Nnedi Okorafor's Highly-Anticipated Memoir, 'Broken Places & Outer Spaces,' Is Here

This is the first work of non-fiction to come from the prolific science fiction writer.

Nnedi Okorafor, acclaimed Nigerian-American science fiction, fantasy and magical realism writer, has released her first work of non-fiction, Brittle Paper reports.

Broken Places & Outer Spaces: Finding Creativity in the Unexpected is her memoir chronicling the journey from being a star athlete to facing paralysis—to her eventual creative awakening. Published by TED Books, a Simon & Schuster imprint, the prolific author gives us a powerful example and guide of how our perceived limitations can have the potential to become our greatest strengths.

"I've been writing this on and off since it all happened," she explains in a thread on Twitter. "The original manuscript is over 300 pages. I *needed* to record every detail while they were fresh, so there are parts of this book that I wrote while I still wasn't quite able to walk."

Here's a snippet of the synopsis from the publisher below:

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Celebrated Kenyan Author, Dr. Margaret Ogola, Honored With Google Doodle

The author of the seminal novel "The River and the Source" is remembered on what would have been her 61st birthday.

Kenyan author, activist, and doctor Margaret Ogola is the latest African icon to be commemorated with a Google Doodle.

Google Africa unveiled the design, which features a painted portrait of the author admits a purple sunset, on Wednesday, June 12 to mark what would have been the novelist's 61st birthday.

The doodle appears on the Google homepage in Kenya. Google In Africa shared the image on their Twitter, asking followers to share their favorite quotes from her seminal novel The River and the Source.

Born in Asembo, Kenya in 1958, Dr. Ogola released her first novel, The River and the Source, in 1995. The internationally renowned book told the stories of four generations of Kenyan women as they country experienced rapid social, political and economic change.

The book won both the Jomo Kenyatta Prize for Literature and the Commonwealth Writers' Prize for Best First Book in Africa in the year of its release. It also became part of Kenyan school curriculum.

The award-winning novelist was also a practicing pediatrician who worked closely with orphans affected by HIV and AIDS as the medical director of the Cottolengo Hospice in Nairobi. She received the Families Award for Humanitarian Service from the World Congress of Families for her services.

"Local doodles provide a way for Google to connect with Kenyans about what matters to them and to help celebrate the important moments," said Dorothy Ooko, head of communications and public affairs, SSA. "We celebrated Wangari Maathai and today we're celebrating a literary figure, Dr. Margaret Ogola."

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14 Cultural Events You Can't Miss this December in South Africa

OkayAfrica's guide to must-see events during South Africa's festive season.

South Africans will tell you that December is not just a month, it's an entire lifestyle. From beginning to end, it's about being immersed in a ton of activity with friends and family as well as any new folk you meet along the way. Whether you're looking to turn up to some good music or watch some provocative theater, our guide to just 14 cultural events happening in South Africa this December, has something for everyone.

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Photo by Lana Haroun

From #FeesMustFall to #BlueforSudan: OkayAfrica's Guide to a Decade of African Hashtag Activism

The 2010s saw protest movements across the continent embrace social media in their quest to make change.

The Internet and its persistent, attention-seeking child, Social Media has changed the way we live, think and interact on a daily basis. But as this decade comes to a close, we want to highlight the ways in which people have merged digital technology, social media and ingenuity to fight for change using one of the world's newest and most potent devices—the hashtag.

What used to simply be the "pound sign," the beginning of a tic-tac-toe game or what you'd have to enter when interacting with an automated telephone service, the hashtag has become a vital aspect of the digital sphere operating with both form and function. What began in 2007 as a metadata tag used to categorize and group content on social media, the term 'hashtag' has now grown to refer to memes (#GeraraHere), movements (#AmINext), events (#InsertFriendsWeddingHere) and is often used in everyday conversation ("That situation was hashtag awkward").

The power of the hashtag in the mobility of people and ideas truly came to light during the #ArabSpring, which began one year into the new decade. As Tunisia kicked off a revolution against oppressive regimes that spread throughout North Africa and the Middle East, Twitter, Instagram and Facebook played a crucial role in the development and progress of the movements. The hashtag, however, helped for activists, journalists and supporters of causes. It not only helped to source information quickly, but it also acted as a way to create a motto, a war cry, that could spread farther and faster than protestors own voices and faster than a broadcasted news cycle. As The Guardian wrote in 2016, "At times during 2011, the term Arab Spring became interchangeable with 'Twitter uprising' or 'Facebook revolution,' as global media tried to make sense of what was going on."

From there, the hashtag grew to be omnipresent in modern society. It has given us global news, as well as strong comedic relief and continues to play a crucial role in our lives. As the decade comes to a close, here are some of the most impactful hashtags from Africans and for Africans that used the medium well.

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