Humanism made to the measure of the world: the case of Africanfuturism

Ogwu, Emmanuel Omoghene
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This study examines the contribution of Africanfuturism in imagining a vision of the human in ways that challenge seventeenth-century European enlightenment ideas of the “specifically human”. I argue that Africanfuturism’s insistence on a humanity in constant creation can be traced to a posthuman sensibility and an attention to planetary entanglements. Since the rise of black internationalism in the works of W.E.B. Du Bois, Aimé Césaire, Frantz Fanon and Sylvia Wynter, there has been a series of efforts and strategies not only to refute the European enlightenment ideas of the human but also to offer emancipatory modalities for the future of black humanity. While Afrofuturism contributes to this tradition, its African-American-centric framing relegates the aesthetic and thematic presence of Africa to the margins. As I demonstrate, Africanfuturism, as conceived by Nnedi Okorafor and demonstrated in her novels, Binti and Lagoon, is concerned with the question of planetary habitability in a way that does not privilege or prioritize the human over non-human forms of existence. The result is a planetary entanglement and relationality characterized by different forms of vulnerability, journeying and transfiguration in a manner that produces a relation of care and a reconfiguration of space, sexuality and belonging—for fellow human subjects and non-human subjects. Such a relationality is especially useful in societies characterized by the necropolitical as it offers an alternate black political configuration.
A Research Report submitted in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the degree of Master of Arts to the Faculty of Humanities, University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, 2022