On Circulations and the African Imagination of a Borderless World, October 2018
What is the African imagination of a borderless world? What are our ideas on territoriality, borders and movement? How to move beyond so-called progressive discourse on “freedom of movement” and “no borders” against the backdrop of deeply Western individualist thinking, something that ultimately keeps up and even reinforces the neoliberal market logic and the nation state (that, as we know, is more and more becoming the security service of a market place, than provider of any social securities of their populations). Much of this discourse is in the pursuit of individual freedoms – broadly framed as “human rights”.
Chinurenga Chronic: Circulations and the African Imagination of a Borderless World highlights ideas of circulation that include the notion of justice and collective freedoms. Conceptions of community that do not enforce transparency but rather make room for what Glissant called “opacity”. The African world has produced plenty of these, from non-universal universalisms, relational ontologies, refusing that which has been refused to you, and “keeping it moving”.
The edition opens with Achille Mbembe’s challenge to western conceptions of sovereignty, nationalism, citizenship, security and freedom. Like Mbembe, Max Jorge Hinderer Cruz provokes us to think about bodies and circulation without deferring to the dominant binary of western discourse on the so-called “refugee crisis”.
The Chronic up this challenge by charting the physical and intellectual movements making up the African archive. Among these is the genealogy of pan Africanism as a spiritual community and utopian political project, from Nkrumah’s dream of a United States of Africa to cultural festivals using culture as a tool for liberation and the individuals whose body-paths have performed and carried these struggles – including Miriam Makeba through her “Guinea years”, and Ayi Kwei Armah’s trajectory from Ghana via Tanzania to Senegal in a relentless quest to open new epistemic pathways “that could ensure the birth of the beautiful ones”.
To keep moving is a strategy of survival and a way of being together, but breaking apart is also an option. In the Congo, “dislocation” is how rumba historians describe the incessant splinterings that are part of the evolution of every major band and artistic innovation. We look at the case of Wenge Musica, a band that emerged at the end of the Mobutu regime.
African imaginations of borderlessness are not bound by approach or geography. The Afro-Asian movement’s relocations from India to Cuba via Egypt in the 1970s are a case in point, so is Édouard Glissant‘s imagination of the Batouto people as an invisible world-community that spread into all corners of the globe starting from the ficticious African town of Onkolo more than 500 BC.
Yambo Ouologuem‘s correspondence with his publisher Le Seuil, from the first time his manuscripts landed on his editor’s desk in 1963 to his death in 2017, is the testimony of an African writers’ attempts to move in-and-out of pre-programmed channels for the circulation of “African literature”.
Prose stylist and critic, Taban Lo Liyong takes up Ouologuem’s struggle and laments the loss of African literary forms and urges us to counter the clatter (and clutter) of western domination by truly singing, celebrating and invigorating ancestral repertoires. While Clapperton Chakanetsa Mavhunga mobilises the traditions in which he was born and raised in Zimbabwe, to ask what if the protagonist in mobility was not human or technology, but nature?
Fred Moten and Saidiya Hartman explore the Black Outdoors, the outside of the outside, as a pathway to another understanding of community as well as the possibility of harnessing fugitivity as a creative empowering strategy.
Taking a lead from Moten and Hartman, the issue also maps those who have refused what has been refused to them, from the maroon communities that gave rise to the Haitian revolution to the Movement of Jah People led by Garvey, Ossie and many more. Driving the point home, the Conquering Lion H.I.M. Haile Selassie, King of kings, Lord of lords appears in full regalia on the front page (artwork by Neville Garrick – who made album covers for Marley, Spear and many other prophets).
Wu Ming, an Italian collective of writers and activists who refuse individual authorship in favour of collective creation, map Italy’s defeat in Ethiopia through historic sites in the migrant city of Palermo. Still in Palermo, a speculative trilogy examines the “walking corpse” of Leoluca Orlando, the sitting mayor of Palermo, fearless critic of Italy’s anti-immigration policies and architect of the borderless city of welcome to come. In reply, a collective of Palermo’s newest citizens create a fotonovela about displacement, longing, love across borders, violence, sexual tension and finally revenge.
The Invention of Zimbabwe, April, 2018
14 November 2017. News breaks of a coup d’état underway in Zimbabwe. Tanks, armoured vehicles and military personnel are seen patrolling the capital, Harare. The images send shock waves through social media, traditional broadcast news networks and diplomatic channels. After nearly four decades at the helm, President Robert Gabriel Mugabe, Commander-in-Chief, is set to be deposed by his own army, the Zimbabwean Defence Force. Before the month is over, Emmerson Dambudzo Mnangagwa, is ushered in as the country’s third president.
The events last November form the backdrop of the latest issue of Chimurenga’s pan-African gazette, the Chronic. The issue sits at the intersection of two separate research projects that Chimurenga have been developing since 2015. One on new cartographies, which asks the question: what if maps were made by Africans, to understand and make visible their own realities and imaginaries? And a subsidiary project, ‘Who Killed Kabila?’, where the assassination of DRC President Laurent-Désiré Kabila in 2001 serves as the starting point for an in-depth investigation into power, territory and the creative imagination.
Zimbabwe and the countries bordering it share a complex history of solidarity, conflict and cultural, social and economic exchange, but this relationship is often skewered in the media. Zimbabwe is largely written about and represented through – in relation or comparison to, and by – the region’s economic super power, South Africa. This provides a distorted view that locks Zimbabwe in a logic of emergency, and fails to capture the realities of the lived experience, or the complexity of relations between South Africa, and the bigger story of the region and indeed the continent.
Chimurenga, an innovative platform for free ideas and political reflection about Africa by Africans, is itself partially a product of this history. Founded in 2002, and primarily based in Cape Town, it takes its name from a Shona word from Zimbabwe, which loosely translates as (revolutionary) struggle, referring to both freedom struggles and Zimbabwean rebel music. This edition of the Chronic brings together voices of journalists and editors, writers, theorists, photographers, illustrators and artists from the country to tell a different story of Zimbabwe, now and in history, and to dream new futures.
In its pages, Bernard Matambo returns to the moment of Mugabe’s deposition, listening closely to the rumour mill to grasp the intrigues of factional politics within Zimbabwe’s ruling party, ZANU PF, the mistrust and ambition which led to the change of power. Economist, Simbarashe Mumera, boards the night vendor bus from Harare to the border town of Musina and reveals how foreign companies, especially South African retailers, continue to make a handsome profit from Zimbabwe’s ongoing economic crisis.
The story of politics and economics in Zimbabwe cannot be told without the music that has driven, documented and revolted against it. In deliberate attempt to use music archives in the writing of contemporary history, Ranga Mberi travels back in time to the 1980s and 1990s, the heyday of sungura music. Dubbed the “authentic sound of Zimbabwe”, sungura weaved together Congolese rumba with Zimbabwean jiti and Tanzanian kanindo to capture the essence of life and the national mood in Zimbabwe during the best and worst times in its history. Similarly, Percy Zvomuya delves into the history of reggae in Zimbabwe, charting a web of influences that makes up not only the sonic cartography of a revolution fuelled by chimurenga music and reggae, but which are the very groundations of today’s Zimdancehall.
Elsewhere, writer Marko Phiri and photographer Dwayne Kapula look at the history of the ‘Big Dance,’ Gule Wamkulu, a performance that dates back to the Chewa Empire of the 17th century, in what is today’s Malawi, while singer/songwriter Netsayi Chigwendere sits down with legendary poet, Chirikure Chirikure.
Then, Panashe Chigumadzi travels to the rural Zimbabwe of her ancestors to discover that the land reform programme that drives agricultural transformation and justice for dispossessed Africans carries with it the promise of a future, and the pain and patriarchy of the past. Florence Madenga also travels back and forward in time. Through a visit to her ailing grandmother, she reflects on the silences that live in the folds of family – the feigned dignity, nostalgia, and denial that are championed as resilience in the midst of ruin.
Other contributors to the broadsheet include Brian Chikwava, Rudo Mudiwa, Bongani Kona, Farai Mudzingwa, Nora Chipaumire, Tinashe Mushakavanhu, Nonstikelelo Mutiti, Jekesai Njikizana, Melanie Boehl, Clapperton Chakanetsa Mavhunga, Zenzele Ndebele, Mike Mavura and Robert Machiri.
The accompanying books magazine, XiBARUU TEERE YI (Chronic Books in Wolof) asks the urgent question: What can African Writers Learn from Cheikh Anta Diop?
Inside Boubacar Boris Diop engages Cheikh Anta Diop’s legacy to raise radical views on creative writing, a challenge to what he laments as our literary Sahara. Similarly, Ayesha Attah travels from Diop through Ayi Kwei Armah to explore the ‘shared continuity’ of African cultures, histories and philosophies, while Ibrahima Wane presents Kàddu (“Speech” in Wolof), the first Senegalese newspaper printed entirely in an African language, as the missing link between Diop, Senegalese political scientist Pathé Diagne and filmmaker Ousmane Sembène.
The cover itself reworks the cover of the first issue of TAXAW, the journal founded by Cheikh Anta Diop in 1977 – officially, the mouthpiece of his party RND. Initially TAXAW was titled SIGGI, but the journal was censored by Leopold Senghor’s notorious grammar police – the spell-checking directorate Senghor set up to block radical
Mamadou Diallo channels exiled Cuban Carlos Moore, through his special relationship with Cheikh Anta Diop and their foremost, but failed collaboration to launch an organization of scientists of the black world are the focus of this extraordinary account.
Wolof publications on orthographic grounds! Cheikh Anta Diop responded by changing the name of the journal: “SIGGI (getting up) becomes TAXAW (standing), which is even more radical. We can thus sidestep the legal trap that they wanted to spring on us.”
Digging deeper into this radicalism, Souleymane Bachir Diagne enters Diop’s legendary Laboratory of Carbon 14 where he encounters the ‘demiurge’ for a new world view, a ‘new African’ conscious, embracing the genius of the ancestors in all domains of science, culture and religion.
Other accounts are offer by Khadim Ndiaye, himself a follower of the Murid way and author of a recent book on Cheikh Anta Diop, who shows how the late scientist, politician and thinker was a product of the Murid, and Sumesh Sharma who traces Diop’s legacy through the circuitous roots of Afro-Asiatic history, from the world’ first civilisations in Egypt to Dravidian civilisations of southern India.
XiBARUU TEERE YI also includes reviews and dispatches by Lindokuhle Nkosi, Gwen Ansell, Kiluanji Kia Henda, Kibafika Louis Kakudji, Akin Adesokan and many more.
We Make Our Own Food, April 2017
Food is largely presented as scarcity, lack, loss – Africa’s always desperate exceptionalism or exceptional desperation or whatever.
In this issue, we put food back on the table: to restore the interdependence between the mouth that eats and the mouth that speaks, and to delve deeper into the subtle tactics of resistance and private practices that make food both a subversive art and a site of pleasure.
The aim, of course, is not to dismiss the questions raised by food insecurity, but rather to complicate them, to cook and serve them differently. Necessarily, it must be done with close attention to the mouth – to the feelings of words and sounds on the tongue, and to the fingers, too. Taste, not hunger for the word alone, compels the eating.
With contributions from Yemisi Aribisala, Moses März, Rustum Kozain, Desiree Lewis, Harmony Holiday, Stacy Hardy, Zayaan Khan, Adji Dieye, Bwesigye Bwa Mwesigire, Fungai Machirori, Shoks Mzolo, Isaac Otidi Amuke, Bongani Kona, Kwanele Sosibo, Thabo Jijana, Harmony Holiday, Paula Akugizibwe, Akin Adesokan, Harry Garuba, Billy Kahora, Barbara Wanjala, Kodwo Eshun, Saki Mafundikwa, Oris Aigbokhaevbolo, and many more.
The Chronic- August 2016
2017 Nommo Award for Best Speculative Fiction Graphic Novel by Africans
This issue of Chimurenga’s pan-African quarterly gazette, the Chronic, explores ideas around mythscience, science fiction and graphic storytelling. Like previous editions of the Chronic, this edition is borne out of an urgent need to write our world differently – beyond the dogma of growth and development and the endless stream of future projections released by organisations like the IMF and the World Bank.
Contributors include Native Maqari, Breeze Yoko, Francis Burger, Nikhil Singh, London Kamwendo, Thenjiwe Nkosi, Graeme Arendse, Loyiso Mkize and many others.
The Chronic (April 2016)
In the fall of 2015, universities across South Africa were engulfed by fires ignited by students’ discontent with the racial discrimination and colonialism that still defines the country’s institutes of higher education. The protests broadcast on televisions around the world were neither without precedent nor without parallel. The University in Africa, and indeed South Africa, has always been a site of turmoil, conflict and insurrection. But as history reveals, without a wider call for social change in society and a deeper engagement with questions of decolonisation, student protest movements stand to die an isolated death in the university.
The latest issue of Chimurenga’s pan-African gazette, the Chronic, explores the tensions between reform and revolution, and decolonisation and the neoliberal order in the academy, through the lens of history and via the alternate education paradigms based in indigenous knowledge systems, and also arising from South Africa’s radical anti-apartheid struggle.
Football is the focus of the books supplement, Chronic Books. Not so much the game itself as the language produced in, around and about it. How football is spoken, written and narratively performed – from the informal commentary of bar talk, blogs, social media and stadium banter to more formal inquiries in mainstream media.
This edition of the Chronic also features a photonovella titled “Jabu Comes to Joburg”, a classic South African tale re-imagined by Achal Prabhala.
This issue features contributions from Pedro Monaville, Frank B. Wilderson III , Bwesigye Bwa Mwesigire, Kwanele Sosibo, Joshua Craze , Ronald Suresh Roberts, Yemisi Aribisala , James Young, Lidudumalingani Mqombothi, Moses März, Rustum Kozain, Florence Madenga, Ed Pavlic, Jon Soske, Meghna Singh, Masande Ntshanga, Abdourahman Waberi, Nick Mulgrew, Lindokuhle Nkosi, Wendell Marsh, Nick Mwaluko and many more.
The Chronic (July 2015)
In the minds of many, the Sahara exists as a boundary between the Maghreb and “Black Africa”. History and our lived experience tell a different story. The latest issue of Chimurenga’s pan African gazette, the Chronic, bears testimony to this. Designed in collaboration with Studio Safar in Beirut, and published in its entirety in Arabic as Muzmin, this special edition of the Chronic argues that the Sahara has never been a boundary, real or imagined. Trade caravans, intellectuals, literatures, human resources and political ideas have long circulated from Timbuktu to Marrakesh, from Khartoum to Tunis and Cairo and beyond.
Marked by an urgency to unsettle the fictitious divide, this issue continues Chimurenga’s ongoing quest to present alternative political, economic, historical, geographical and cultural cartographies of the continent. To imagine Africa, and to speak of it, outside the maps drawn at the Berlin Conference (1884-85).
Contributing from Egypt, Helmi Sharawy remembers African liberation movements that had offices in Cairo during the time of President Gamal Abdul Nasser. Wendell Hassan Marsh follows the route from Françafrique to Afrabia, a geo-political conflation, so named by Ali Mazrui. Other contributors include Dominique Malaquais and Cédric Vincent; Andrew Apter, Sophia Azeb, Ziad Bentahar, Marcia Lynx Qualey, Akin Adesokan, Shamil Jeppie, Saarah Jappie, Jamal Mahjoub, Rayanne Tabet, Nisreen Kaj, Rasheed Araeen, Mongo Beti and more.
The Chronic (March 2015)
We understand the role of cartography as a tool of imperialism. However, in this edition of the Chronic, we ask: what if maps were made by Africans for their own use, to understand and make visible their own realities or imaginaries? How does it shift the perception we have of ourselves and how we make life on this continent? We don’t have an easy answer, nor will we find one alone. Together with Kwani? we’ve invited writers and artists to produce this new language, in words and images.
This edition is produced in Cape Town, Nairobi, Johannesburg, Lagos, Luanda, Abidjan, Barbados, Mombasa, Katanga, Kampala, Kinshasa, Dar es Salaam, Malabo, Tripoli, and Slemani and distributed globally. Contributors include Achille Mbembe, Philippe Rekacewicz, Billy Kahora, Chris Abani, Yvonne Owuor, Yemisi Ogbe, Agri Ismail, Sinzo Aanza,Antonio Andrade Tomas, Stacy Hardy, Kiluanji Kia Henda, Francis Burger, Nolan Dennis, Wendell Hassan Marsh,Stefano Harney and Tonika Sealy and others.
The Chronic (July 2014)
For the new issue of Chimurenga’s pan African gazette, the Chronic, the focus is on graphic stories; comic journalism. Blending illustrations, photography, written analysis, infographics, interviews, letters and more, visual narratives speak of everyday complexities in the Africa in which we live.
Binyavanga Wainaina and Youssou N’Dour open the edition, contributors also include Native Maqari, Biyi Bandele, Ramón Esono (AKA Jamón y Queso), Dudumalingani Mqombothi and Buntu Fihla, Fungai Machirori, Victor Gama, Willem Boshoff, Lesego Rampolokeng, Mafika Gwala, Nawel Louerrad, Canan Marasligil, Mogorosi Motshumi, Tony McDermott, Akin Adesokan and others.
This edition also features a special 8-page insert: the lost issue of Hei Voetsek! A reawakening of Zebulon Dread‘s cult, handcrafted periodical featuring graphics by Cape Town’s art collective, Burning Museum.
The Chronic (December 2013)
This edition of the Chronic, offers forays into interlaced subjects of power, resistance, protest, mobilisation, mobility and belonging. Marked by an urgency to unsettle divides between opportunism and opportunity, life and liberation, here and there, and then and now-now, the newspaper acts as a platform from which to engage the practices, dilemmas and possibilities of different world.
Contributors include Kwanele Sosibo, Rustum Kozain, Boniface Mwangi, Paula Akugizibwe, Kangsen Wakai, Kodwo Eshun, Jihan El-Tahri, Mohannad Ghawanmeh, Youssef Rakha, Louis Chude-Sokei, Yemisi Ogbe, Florence Madenga, Ronald Suresh Roberts, Bongani Kona, Dudumalingani Mqombothi and Tseliso Monaheng.
As always, the Chronic includes the 48 page Chronic Books magazine. This edition foregrounds the politics and practice of translating. Also Madhu H. Kaza interviews Ama Ata Aidoo; Nta Bassey takes on Taiye Selasi; Nick Mwaluko reads between the lines in three queer anthologies; and Akin Adesokan lays bare the “dangers of a single video” while the puzzling compulsion of African writers to both conform and disavow.
The Chronic (August 2013)
This print edition is a 48-page broadsheet, packaged together with the 72-page Chronic Books supplement.
Writers in the broadsheet include Jon Soske, Paula Akugizibwe, Yves Mintoogue, Adewale Maja-Pearce, Parsalelo Kantai, Fred Moten & Stefano Harney, Cedric Vincent, Deji Toye, Derin Ajao, Tony Mochama, Nana Darkoa Sekyiamah,Agri Ismaïl, Lindokuhle Nkosi, Bongani Kona, Stacy Hardy, Emmanuel Induma, Ugochukwu-Smooth Nzewi, Lolade Ayewudi, Simon Kuper and many others.
The Chronic Books supplement is a self help guide on reading and writing, with contributions by Dave Mckenzie, Akin Adekosan, Fiston Nasser Mwanza, Yemisi Ogbe, Vivek Nyarangan, Peter Enahoro, Tolu Ogunlesi, Elnathan John,Rustum Kozain, Olufemi Terry, Aryan Kaganof, Rustum Kozain, Harmony Holiday, Sean O’Toole, Gwen Ansell,Binyavanga Wainaina and more.
The Chronic (April 2013)
A 48-page newspaper and 40-page stand-alone books review magazine featuring writing, art and photography inflected by the workings of innovation, creativity and resistance.
Jean-Pierre Bekolo, Binyanvanga Wainaina, Dominique Malaquais, Mahmood Mamdani, Andile Mngxitama, Gwen Ansell, Patrice Nganang, Achal Prabhala, Rustum Kostain, Karen Press, Niq Mhlongo, Paula Akugizibwe, Tolu Ogunlesi, Sean Jacobs, Harmony Holiday, Howard French, Billy Kahora are a few of its many contributors from around the world.
Stories range from investigations into the business of moving corpses to the rhetoric of land theft and loss; from latent tensions between Africa’s most powerful nations to the soft power of the biggest satellite television provider; and from the unspoken history of Rushdie’s “word crimes” to the unwritten history of PAGAD. It also investigates crime writing in Nigeria, Kenya and India, takes score of the media’s muted response to the ‘artistry’ of the World’s No1 Test batsman, rocks to the new sound of Zambia’s Copper Belt and tells the story of one man’s mission to take down colonialisms monumental history.
Chimurenga Vol. 16: The Chimurenga Chronic (October ’11)
The Chimurenga Chronic, is the once-off edition of an imaginary newspaper which is issue 16 of Chimurenga. Set in the week 18-24 May 2008, the Chronic imagines the newspaper as producer of time – a time-machine.
An intervention into the newspaper as a vehicle of knowledge production and dissemination, it seeks to provide an alternative to mainstream representations of history, on the one hand filling the gap in the historical coverage of this event, whilst at the same time reopening it. The objective is not to revisit the past to bring about closure, but rather to provoke and challenge our perceptions.
Both a bold art project and a hugely ambitious publishing venture, The Chronic gives voice to all aspects of life on the continent. The 128-page multi-section broadsheet features news, analysis and long-form journalism by award-winning writers and journalists. Its content rages from in-depth investigations into xenophobia, border politics, the business of migration and ethnic economics, to innovative coverage of sports, arts, mental health, media, technology and more. The stand-alone 40 page Chronic Life Magazine features photography, essays, guides, games, columns and more, and the Chronic Book Review Magazine is a self-contained 96 page magazine packed with interviews, analysis and over 30 pages of book reviews, as well as new fiction and poetry.
The Chronic also comes packaged with a free audio CD supplement in the form of a “mixtape,” titled Dipalo and composed, arranged and performed by Neo Muyanga.