5 African science fiction and fantasy novels to get you acquainted with Afrofuturism

Science Fiction
Osbourne Macharia’s art piece for the London Premiere of “Black Panther” in 2018

Fantasy and science fiction books, music, art, film are an immersion into a completely different world and experience with a divergent set of rules and societal norms; arguably, the embodiment of escapism, which explains why the genre is so popular in pop culture.

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Over the years, however, there has been a rise in the popularity of Afrofuturism – a movement in literature, music and art that infuses futuristic and Sci-fi themes with elements of African/Black culture and history. 

This movement is not limited to the diaspora, many African creatives have embraced this wave and are reimagining Africa through the lens of Science Fiction and fantasy. Osbourne Macharia’s photography for Black Panther is an apt example of Afrofuturism.

We’ve compiled a list of 5 African Sci-Fi and fantasy novels and short stories to get you acquainted with the movement.

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“What the dead man said” by Chinelo Onwualu (Nigeria)

Short story

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science fiction

This science fiction short story is set in Biafra in the 22nd century. It tells the story of climate change, migration and family secrets. We follow the protagonist who comes back to Biafra to witness her father’s burial rites. The story is set in a dystopian future where climate change has ravaged the land and the world at large.

Read that story here.

Jiwe by Kiko Enjani (Kenya)

Ebook

science fiction

This mythical fantasy novel follows the lives of deities, in this world, they can be naive but are extremely dangerous when underestimated. 

A fascinating story about deities, the ignorance of a village and the main characters’ struggle to be loved, understood and survive.

Where: Rugano Books Price: KSh. 200

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Zoo City by Lauren Beules (South Africa)

Novel 

science fiction

The story follows the protagonist Zinzi December, a journalist “animalled” for her crimes. In this fantasy noir, people found guilty of crimes are given animals to protect; if the animal dies, so do they. The sloth that she has been assigned to protect, gifts her the ability to find missing things. A gift that soon plunges her even deeper into the workings of the city’s underbelly.

Where: Textbook Centre Price: KSh. 1,207 (Ebook)

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Kintu by Jennifer Nansubuga Makumbi (Uganda)

Novel

science fiction

Set in 1750, this fantasy novel reimagines the history of Uganda through a curse placed on the Kintu clan. We follow the ancestors of Kintu Kidda as they try to break the curse while trying to carry on their traditions in the modern world.

Where: Prestige Bookshop Price: KSh. 1,390

The Legacy of Orisha by Tomi Adeyemi (Nigeria)

science fiction

A novel series featuring “Children of Blood and Bone” and “Children of Virtue and Vengeance”

It’s an African fantasy novel series full of dark magic and culture inspired by Africa and a New York bestseller. A story about lost magic and souls and one girl’s fight to bring it all back.

Where: Prestige Bookshop Price: 1,150 for each book

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