AFRICAN FUTURES FESTIVALI certainly hope this will be videotaped (at least sections of the festival that can be recorded) for those of us who can’t attend, to watch and participate in; it’s right up my alley! At worst, I’m sure a summary of the festival will be published on this blog soon after it ends.

What might various African futures look like? How do artists and academics imagine this future? And what forms and narratives of science fiction are currently being developed in Africa?

From October 28 to 31, 2015, the Goethe-Institut’s African Futures festival will address these and other questions with a wide range of events
throughout Johannesburg, as well as at partner festivals in Lagos and Nairobi.

More than 50 international guests have been invited to African Futures, including Nnedi Okorafor (Nigeria), Jean-Pierre Bekolo (Cameroon), Spoek Mathambo (SA), Faustin Linyekula (DRC) and Achille Mbembe (Cameroon/SA). They will be exploring visions of the future, following potential narratives and artistic expression in literature, fine arts, performance, music, film and various digital formats. Concurrent interdisciplinary festivals will be taking place in Lagos and Nairobi.

The festival in Johannesburg will kick off on October 28 with a conversation between award-winning writers Nnedi Okorafor (Nigeria/USA), Lauren Beukes (South Africa), Leif Randt (Germany) and Binyavanga Wainaina (Kenya). A futuristic concert at Alexander Theatre in Braamfontein marks another highlight of the program: German-Ghanaian-Portuguese collective Gato Preto will play alongside Nigerian musician Keziah Jones, with Spoek Mathambo presenting a brand new set of music in collaboration with yet to be announced Mozambican musicians.

“Much thought-provoking work has been produced when artists engage with ideas around ‘future’”, says Lien Heidenreich-Seleme, Head of Cultural Programmes at the Goethe-Institut South Africa. “We are excited to see our festival guests build bridges between the arts, technology and critical discourse, and reflect on how contemporary realities in Africa potentially provide answers to questions yet to come.”

Besides exhibitions, a film series and a virtual reality workshop, the program will also feature a live video conference connecting Johannesburg with São Paulo and New York – two cities whose cultural production is strongly shaped by African influences.

During the run up to the festival, writers Lindokuhle Nkosi (Cape Town) and Percy Zvomuya (Harare/Johannesburg) will explore some of the many facets of African Futures on the Tumblr, including Black Feminism, Indigenous Knowledge Systems and Knowledge Production in Africa. The Tumblr also features the festival programme, curatorial board and participants of the festival.

African Futures is a project of the Goethe-Institut South Africa, funded by the Goethe-Institut and the TURN Fund of the German Federal Cultural Foundation.