For years, I’ve been a science-fiction enthusiast, I’ve watched a lot of films adapted from books of that genre. Having done research on how they’re made and what it takes for them to be a success, I’ve often asked myself, “Why aren’t there visually stunning films in our country adapted from the astonishing myths and legends we’re gifted to have?” As a filmmaker, in my mind the answer to this question has always been simply, ‘Budget’, but after this particular event, another question arose, “Je, vitabu hivi unavyovizungumzia, umevisoma?”
Moderated by Soila Kenya alongside writers; Keith Kinambuga and Mutendei Nabutete, African Myths and Legends in Literature and Media event at Alliance Francaise Multimedia Library Nairobi was a profound start for me to better understand Kenyan literature and the World’s approach to it.
With a stack of copies placed upfront, Mutendei Nabutete and Keith Kinambuga took to stage to promote their books, SHADOW WALKERS (Comic) and THE REBIRTH OF SYOKIMAU (Novel) respectively.
The Rebirth of Syokimau
During the day, Adana Milili is a compulsive kleptomaniac with a penchant for the finer things in life. At night, she is tortured by terrors that are slowly turning into reality and driving her insane. As she feeds her urge to steal at an archeological auction, she stumbles upon an ancient artefact from Kenya’s most well known anti-gravity hill, Kituluni. She has seen it in her night terrors. Tracking its origin leads her down a troubled family tree of fortune telling from the Kamba tribe and puts her on a collision course with her loved ones. She becomes a valuable asset to an influential scientific group that wants to break the mystic code of time and gravity. Will she ever understand her worth and heritage?
Shadow Walkers is a fantasy adventure story mixing African history and mythology where the Azuni collective (an umbrella pantheon of African gods, drawn from mythological and historical figures) seek to reunite and work around their grievances to combat an unexpected old enemy. Through the story the mythology and backstory of these legends and African Kingdoms and their influence around the globe is explored.
Afrofuturism vs Africanfuturism, Western Sanitization of African stories in media and Cultural Dissolve were some of the topics discussed which arose from questions and insights from the audience who had a broad understanding of Kenyan Literature.
Afrofuturism vs Africanfuturism
Afrofuturism is a cultural aesthetic that combines science-fiction, history and fantasy to explore the African-American experience and aims to connect those from the black diaspora with their forgotten African ancestry.
Coined by the Nigerian American writer, Nnedi Okorafor, Africanfuturism is a cultural aesthetic and philosophy of science that centers on the fusion of African culture, history, mythology, point of view, with technology based in Africa and not limiting to the diaspora.
Western Sanitization of African Stories
Best depicted in Hollywood’s approach to African stories in films, sanitization of African stories to best suite their agendas and please their audiences has been a topic of discussion for a long time and wasn’t any different in the event with audiences really diving in to the topic emphasizing on the significance of local residents to read the source materials more so as to change the scenario.
One of the audience members, also a writer, took us all back to our Primary School days when speaking in native tongue was and still is highly unaccepted. To top it all, today’s children don’t speak in native tongue at homes as compared to years back, this resulting to them not paying much attention to local literature and media.
Walking down the Alliance Francaise staircase, only one thing ran in my mind, “I need to read more local literature,” and with a Shadow Walkers copy and poster in hand, it sealed the commitment.
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