The Africa Policy Journal is partnering with Collateral Benefits to share some of the perspectives written by Africans from around the world during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic. Collateral Benefits is a platform that through a series of Perspective Papers aims to lift up the voices of African and Afro-descendant people from all walks of life, so that African and Afro-descendant intellect, wisdom and experiences can contribute to and shape the global conversations on the critical issues of our time.
APJ Editor-In-Chief Adaobi Ezeokoli spoke with Susana Edjang, Co-Founder and Co-Editor of Collateral Benefits, about the motive behind creating the project and how she hopes the perspectives impact those who read them, and the continent as a whole, during an #APJChat podcast. Listen below:
Susana Edjang is from Equatorial Guinea and Spain. She has worked in international development for over 15 years. She is a co-founding member of Afroinnova, an African diaspora innovation platform and member of the Advisory Board of the Collective for the Renewal of Africa (CORA), the African Women on Board (AWB) network as well as the Council of the UK’s Royal African Society. She is currently an Edward Mason Fellow and an MC/MPA Candidate at the Harvard Kennedy School of Government.
The Africa Policy Journal is delighted to publish Susana Edjang’s perspective as the first in the series, titled “The Future Will Not Find Us Unaware”
In this time of lockdowns, working and studying from home, trying to separate real experts from fake news, carving out daily time in the company of Afrofuturist musicians and African and Afro-descendant science fiction writers can be an act of hope. We can find ourselves immersed in futures more overwhelming than this present COVID-19 reality, where for instance, dreams of equality across racial, ethnic, gender and other lines have been compounded by artificial intelligence. This could perhaps make us think and become more engaged in future thinking, planning and work towards anticipating forthcoming problems. It could equip us to learn about and devise potential solutions, the processes that enable them and the technologies and science that, one day, could make them real.
In moments like this pandemic, we are confronted with the bleakness of our realities. The torture and death of people, in Africa and its Diaspora, as a result of police brutality and other institutional barriers, preventable diseases and hunger, or the radicalisation of the global COVID-19 response. However, through science fiction we can find ourselves alive, hopeful and represented in futures where African and Afro-descendant people play critical roles, have a stake, are part of the solution, and can focus on these roles because all intersectional barriers are being dealt with or have been lowered or broken up, and therefore we are no longer obliged to choose among all the isms that define us. We can just exist and focus on challenges beyond demonstrating our humanity and worthiness.
Suspension of disbelief through science fiction can nurture a genuine curiosity for and commitment to philosophy, the sciences, technology, history or storytelling; for subjects and forms that help explore human questions such as reality, life, free will and consciousness. Imagine an Africa in 2050 where all heads of state and government are 65-year old women with a nursing background. Imagine exploring the limitations, the opportunities, the whys and the hows of such a world, one hour a day at a time, or more.
#afrofuturism #imagination #futurenarratives #scifi
This perspective was originally published in Collateral Benefits Perspective Paper II: Voices of African Women.