Report - Roundtable "Lagos, Afrofuturist City?", June 29 at the new Alliance Française de Lagos
Venue : Alliance Française/Mike Adenuga Centre, 9 Osborne Road, Ikoyi, Lagos
Date : June 29th 2019, 4pm to 7pm
On Saturday June 29, from 4pm to 7pm, IFRA-Nigeria organised the last event of the series on "Cities of the future, future of African cities" with the support of the Fonds d'Alembert and in partnership with the Institut Français du Nigéria, the French Ambassy and the new Alliance Française de Lagos/Mike Adenuga Center. This last event was organised as a roundtable on "Lagos, Afrofuturist city?".
The event featured screening of short-movies on Afro and Africanfuturism and cities, followed by a rich panel discussion.
2018 welcomed the worldwide success of the movie Black Panther, featuring a fictional African country endowed with great natural resources and cutting-edge technologies and a capital city, Birnin Zana, promoting a model of smart city with strong African architectural identities. The movie motivated broad discussions about the representations of African cities in sci-fi cultural productions and more generally in the future. Futuristic visual, literary or artistic productions, whether utopian or dystopian, mostly showcase American cities or Asian ones; but African cities remain generally relatively overlooked. However, in the past years, under the “Afrofuturism” umbrella, a great number of African or Afro-descendant artists, film-makers, writers who envision and display African cities in the future have emerged.
Afrofuturism is a cultural and aesthetic diasporic movement which infused and spread out across literature, cinema, music, arts and fashion in the second half of the 20th century. Afrofuturism combines elements of sci-fi, historical fiction, speculative fiction, fantasy, afrocentrism and magical realism with non-western cosmologies. This movement questions the space for African societies in the past but also their potential future(s) by imagining their encounter with cultural and technological advances.
Lagos, as a bustling megapolis and the economic and cultural capital of Nigeria, is surely one of the major references for the creators and thinkers of Afrofuturism in terms of urban features and metropolitan life.
The main objective of the event was twofold: first, it gathered artists, academics and practitioners of the city to interrogate the influence of Lagos as a model of Afrofuturist or Africanfuturist city; second it questioned its artistic representations and perception from abroad, as well as the realisation of the futures thought by the Afrofuturist artists from and for Lagos.
Dr. Emilie Guitard introducing the series of events sponsored by the Fonds d'Alembert "Future of cities, cities in the future in Africa"
The roundtable was introduced by Dr. Emilie Guitard (Anthropologist and deputy director of IFRA-Nigeria) who provided a quick historical background and contextualisation of the Afrofuturist and African-futurism movements, pinpointed its main references and interrogated their relevance for Lagos.
The roundtable gathered Simon Gusah (Chief Resilience Officer, Lagos Megacity, at Lagos State Resilience Office), Ayodele Arigbabu (architect, writer, editor of Lagos 2060 and author of a Fistful of tales and Tobe Max Ezeogu, (Chief Operations Officer/ Creative Director at Comic Republic, Lagos) for a fruitful and animated discussion on the role and the representations of Lagos in the Afrofuturist movements. The debate was moderated by Stefen Ajadi (Founder and director of ACID and Lagos-based architecture design studio New Map).
The roundtable was held in the new auditorium of the Alliance Française de Lagos/Mike Adenuga Center and hosted about 120 people, including many participants of the Lagos Studies Conference which was held simultaneously at UniLag.
The event was followed by a cocktail at the Alliance Française to continue the discussions