African science fiction? I think this lady has a point.

This is my 50th post here! Let the celebrations commence! 😉

I’m not going to do anything really special, but I just wanted to share this article I came across a few days ago, called “African writers should turn to science fiction” by one Liz Ng’ang’a. I think she makes some good points, starting with this question:

I wonder why science fiction has not taken root among African writers. During the early part of the 20th century, Africa was a popular setting for foreign science fiction writers.

That got me thinking: I can’t name a single African science fiction writer. All the sf writers I can think of are European or American, with perhaps a few Australians or Kiwis in the mix. As Ng’ang’a says, I can think of enough examples of sf writers using Africa as a setting, but none of these writers seem to be from Africa. Rather curious, isn’t it? She then points out that some of the genre’s characteristics should be attractive to African writers:

….. since science-fiction narratives are usually about alienation, abduction and transportation, they provide a powerful understanding of the displacing of African people.

Excellent point. It seems to me that science fiction — at least “soft” science fiction — would be a useful tool for African writers to explore and comment on social issues relating to that continent. And Ng’ang’a does tell us about a few such writers (that none of us, I’m sure, has ever heard of). She calls for more Africans to use the possibilities of sf to examine their part of the world and portray it in a more positive light, because…..

This view is encouragingly contrary to foreign science fiction works, which used Africa as a setting to show the bleak future that the world might come to.

Well, the world is an ever-changing place. Who knows, maybe more writers will heed this call, and fifty or a hundred years from now Africa might produce some future Grand Masters. It would certainly be a good thing for more of the world to partake in the wonder that is science fiction.


5 responses to “African science fiction? I think this lady has a point.

  1. Pingback: Matt’s Bookosphere 8/9/08 « Enter the Octopus

  2. I have one book by an African writer in my pile by a guy named A.E. Antenga. Its about a bunch of soldiers who are sentenced to “Hell,” a miserable planet somewhere, for sewing insurrection on Earth.

    There is also an anthology out there called “Dark Matters,” from the early oughts. All the authors there are of African descent, and IIRC some of them were native born Africans.

    There are also a few American writers of African descent. Butler, Delaney, Flynn, Nalo Hopkinson, and a few others.

  3. I’m not sure whether this counts as genuinely African, but “The Ear, the Eye, and the Arm” by Nancy Farmer is an interesting scifi-ish book. It’s set in Africa and based in part on African mythology. The author, as I understand from Wikipedia, is American but lived in Zimbabwe for a time. And of course there’s Octavia Butler (one of the few successful African American woman writers).

  4. I’m late to this conversation but I just wanted to let you know that I’m a published African fantasy and SF writer, too. My fantasy/sf novel Zahrah the Windseeker won the Wole Soyinka Prize last year, my sf story, Spider the Artist, (set in the Niger Delta) was published in the Seeds of Change anthology, my second novel The Shadow Speaker was published by Disney, etc.

    Check out:

    A few of us are indeed out there.


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