With Black Panther breaking box office records right and left, people are becoming aware of the term Afrofuturism that applies to speculative/science fiction literature, movies, music, art, that is rooted in African/African-American traditions. One of the names that came up with “who to read in Afrofuturism” articles was Nnedi Okorafor, especially since she is currently writing the Black Panther “Long Live the King” series.
I have loved Okorafor’s writing since I first read “Who Fears Death” a few years ago and have read everything (okay, almost everything) since. While “Who Fears Death” is an adult novel, Okorafor has also written a number of YA & middle grade novels, as well as children’s books. Many of her books are award winning; she’s won a Nebula, Hugo, World Fantasy Award, the Wole Soyinka Prize for Literature, and been long-listed for such prizes as the Andrew Norton Award, the Arthur C. Clarke Award, among others. Needless to say her writing is steep is a beautiful mixture of science fiction, fantasy and African culture. Okorafor is Nigerian American and many of her novels reflect Nigerian customs and beliefs. Her writing is lush, and beautiful and full of deeper meanings that while steeped in the fantastic make us look at our reality, our decisions and how we can affect change in our world.
I’ve also taught one of Okorafor’s books, Zahrah the Windseeker and my students loved it. They enjoyed branching out into a culture different than their own and getting swept away in such a fantastical story. They even loved the cover so much so that students whom I didn’t teach wanted to buy the book (in fact some did and read it on their own). I intend to teach more of Okorafor’s writing in the near future (i.e. most likely next year) so my students can experience Afrofuturism and find themselves as characters who can have amazing adventures.
But don’t just take my word for it; here is an except of Nnedi Okorafor’s TEDTalk reading a excerpt from her current novella series “Binti” (which is amazing BTW) and talking about Afrofuturism.
You can follow this amazing author on twitter (@Nnedi) or on her website (http://nnedi.com/). Either way, run to your local book store or library and buy one of Nnedi Okorafor’s books if you haven’t yet!