News Brief

"For Africans, Homegrown Science Fiction Can Be a Will to Power:" Watch Nnedi Okorafor's Powerful TED Talk

The celebrated writer talks about the power of African Science fiction in a recently released Ted Talk.

"What if?" Is the simple, yet innately powerful question behind celebrated Nigerian-American author, Nnedi Okorafor's unforgettable talk from this summer at TEDGlobal in Tanzania.

In a talk entitled "Sci-Fi Stories that Imagine a Future for Africa," published earlier today on TED.com, the celebrated Nigerian-American writer, opens with an excerpt from her Biniti trilogy, in which she describes the lead character going off to attend university in another galaxy. Her reading carries her into a thoughtful reflection on the significance of African science fiction, and its potency as a political tool. "Science fiction is one of the greatest and most effective forms of political writing. It's all about the question, "What if?" says Okorafor.


The writer also touches on the term "Afrofuturism," which for her, is really "another kind of science fiction." She explains the difference between Afrofuturism and science fiction by using a straightforward octopus analogy.

Like humans, octopuses are some of the most intelligent creatures on earth. However, octopus intelligence evolved from a different evolutionary line, separate from that of human beings, so the foundation is different. The same can be said about the foundations of various forms of science fiction.

From there we learn that her passion for writing science-fiction developed during family trips to Lagos as a young adult, as a means of feeding her curiosity about things that most Nigerians found ordinary.

So I'm Nigerian-American. I was born to two Nigerian immigrant parents and raised in the United States, one of the birthplaces of classic science fiction. However, it was my Nigerian heritage that led me to write science fiction. Specifically I cite those family trips to Nigeria in the late '90s. I'd been taking trips back to Nigeria with my family since I was very young. These early trips inspired me. Hence the first story that I ever even wrote took place in Nigeria.

She ends her talk by reintroducing Udide the spider, a wise storyteller and the embodiment of the deep roots and untapped sociopolitical power of African science fiction. "For Africans, homegrown science fiction can be a will to power," says the writer.

Watch Nnedi Okorafor's full TED Talk below. For more on the prolific writer, revisit our in-depth interview with her from earlier this year, where she discussed mentorship and her upcoming HBO series.

Photo by Meztli Yoalli Rodríguez

Dying Lagoons Reveal Mexico’s Environmental Racism

In the heart of a traditionally Black and Indigenous use area in Southwest Mexico, decades of environmental destruction now threatens the existence of these communities.

On an early morning in September 2017, in a little fishing village in the Pacific coast of Oaxaca, called Zapotalito, thousands of dead fish floated on the surface of the Chacahua-Pastoría lagoons. A 7.1-magnitude earthquake, which rattled Mexico City on September 19, was felt as far down as Zapotalito, and the very next morning, its Black, Indigenous and poor Mestizo residents, who depend on the area's handful of lagoons for food and commerce, woke up to an awful smell and that terrible scene of floating fish.

Keep reading... Show less

get okayafrica in your inbox

popular.

Watch Focalistic & Vigro Deep’s New Music Video For ‘Ke Star’

The 'Lockdown Level 1 anthem' has come to life through fire visuals.