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A new issue of Chimurenga’s Chronic – out now. imagi-nation nwar – […]

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On the Digital Application of Ancestral Work

African spirituality as practiced digitally was amplified by COVID-19.

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Your Own Hand Sold You: Voluntary servitude in the Francafrique

In the CFA franc, the French colonial mission in West Africa found a way to ensure a paternalist and pernicious stranglehold on the economies of a vast region of the continent.

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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.

This edition was produced in collaboration with Manifesta 12 Palermo, and with the kind support of Heinrich Böll Foundation Cape Town.

To purchase in print or as a PDF head to our online shop,or get copies from your nearest dealer.

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The Chronic: Who Killed Kabila II

On January 16, 2001, in the middle of the day, shots are heard in the Palais de Marbre,the residence of President Laurent-Désiré Kabila. The road bordering the presidential residence, usually closed from 6pm by a simple guarded barrier is blocked by tanks.

At the Ngaliema hospital in Kinshasa, a helicopter lands and a body wrapped in a bloody sheet is off loaded. Non-essential medical personnel and patients are evacuated and the hospital clinic is surrounded by elite troops. No one enters or leaves. RFI (Radio France Internationale) reports on a serious incident at the presidential palace in Kinshasa.

Rumor, the main source of information in the Congolese capital, is set in motion…  

18 years after the assassination of Laurent-Désiré Kabila, rumours still proliferate. Suspects include: the Rwandan government; the French; Lebanese diamond dealers; the CIA; Robert Mugabe; Angolan security forces; the apartheid-era Defence Force; political rivals and rebel groups; Kabila’s own kadogos (child soldiers); family members and even musicians.

The geopolitics of those implicated tells its own story; the event came in the middle of the so-called African World War, a conflict that involved multiple regional players, including, most prominently, Rwanda, Uganda, Burundi, Angola, Namibia, and Zimbabwe.

So, who killed Kabila? The new issue of the Chronic presents this query as the starting point for an in-depth investigation into power, territory and the creative imagination by writers from the Congo and other countries involved in the conflict.

The issue is the result of a three-year research project that included a 5-day intervention and installation at La Colonie (Paris), from December 13 – 17, 2017, which featured a live radio station and a research library, a conceptual inventory of the archive of this murder – all documented in a research catalogue.

As this research revealed, who killed Kabila is no mystery. It is not A or B or C. But rather A and B and C. All options are both true and necessary – it’s the coming together of all these individuals, groups and circumstances, on one day, within the proliferating course of the history, that does it.

Telling this story then, isn’t merely a matter of presenting multiple perspectives but rather of finding a medium able to capture the radical singularity of the event in its totality, including each singular, sometimes fantastical, historical fact, rumour or suspicion. We’ve heard plenty about the danger of the single story – in this issue we explore its power. We take inspiration from the Congolese musical imagination, its capacity for innovation and its potential to allow us to think “with the bodily senses, to write with the musicality of one’s own flesh.”

However, this editorial project doesn’t merely put music in context, it proposes music as the context, the paradigm for the writing. The single story we write borrows from the sebene – the upbeat, mostly instrumental part of Congolese rumba famously established by Franco (Luambo Makiadi), which consists in the lead guitarist playing short looping phrases with variations, supported or guided by the shouts of the atalaku (animateur) and driving, snare-based drumming.

The Invention of Africa by Franco & T.P.OK Jazz – Ntone Edjabe on the Pan African Space Station.

“Franco, c’est l’inventeur du sebene. Parce que… et à coté il y avait Nico Kasanda, le docteur Nico, qui lui avait plus de technique de guitare mais qui jouait très mélodique, et Luambo c’était le mec qui est vraiment le mec du quartier avec sa connaissance intuitive de la guitare il a inventé cet manière de faire des sorte de boucle rythmique. Sa manière de jouer c’est un boucle rythmique. Le même phrase rythmique qui revient tout le temps. Et c’est ça le sebene congolais. Et jusqu’à aujourd’hui nous fonctionnons par sebene. Même moi même.“

Interview on France Inter : « Le labo de Ray Lema du 16 mars 2014 »

Ray Lema shares more stories and sounds from his life in music with Bintou Simporé onboard the Pan African Space Station.
Recorded for PASS in Paris at the Fondation Cartier exhibition Beauté Congo – 1926-2015 – Congo Kitoko. For more visit

Similarly, to follow Ousmane Sembene’s method of using multi-location and polyphony as decolonial narrative tools, we invited writers from the countries directly involved and implicated in the events surrounding Kabila’s death (DR Congo, Rwanda, Uganda, Zimbabwe, Angola, and a de-territorialised entity called AFDL) to write one story: the assassination of Kabila.

Working fluidly between fact and fiction, and featuring multiple forms of writing, the contributors – Yvonne Owuor, Antoine Vumilia Muhindo, Parselelo Kantai, Jihan El-Tahri, Daniel K. Kalinaki,  Kivu Ruhorahoza, Percy Zvomuya and Sinzo Aanza – use the event-scene of the shooting is their starting point to collectively tell the single story with its multiplication of plots and subplots that challenge history as a linear march, and tell not the sum but the derangement of its parts.

The issue thus performs an imaginative remapping that better accounts for the complex spatial, temporal, political, economic and cultural relations at play, as well the internal and external actors, organized into networks and nuclei – not only human actors but objects; music; images; texts, ghosts etc – and how these actors come together in time, space, relationships.

This edition of the Chimurenga Chronic is conceived as a sebene of the Congolese rumba – enjoy the dance!

The Chronic is a quarterly pan African gazette, published by Chimurenga.

This edition is part of a larger research project of the Chimurenga Library. It is produced with support from Heinrich Boll Foundation (Cape Town), and in collaboration with La Colonie (Paris), Cosmopolis Bienial/ Centre Pompidou (Paris), Marabouparken Konsthall (Stockholm) and Kalmar Konstmuseum.

For more information or to order your print or digital copy visit and/or contact Chimurenga on +27(0)21 4224168 or

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Rumble in the Nile

The Nimeiri era remains one of the most beguiling and contradictory in the country’s history. It defined so much of what was to come.

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Creative Urban Momentum: Witnessing the Black Unity Trio

In anticipation of the release of Black Unity Trios’ legendary album, Al Fatihah, Hasan Abdur-Razzaq recalls witnessing their rehearsals in the late 1960s.

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A Petition for Mongo Beti

Patrice Nganang recalls the duel between politics and the literary sphere in 1990s Yaoundé – a time when the campaign for ‘democracy’ exposed the chiasmus that is the Cameroonian intelligence, and the words of Mongo Beti ignited a movement for dissent, return and reconstruction.

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The Memory of Victory

Ingrained in the DNA of every male growing up in Senegal is the tradition of Laamb, the Wolof designation for the sport – and by extension the business – of wrestling.

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Islam between Françafrique and Afrabia

Needless to say, Françafrique was not the only constellation of capital and culture on offer at the time of African political independence.

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Where Terror Lies

The rhetoric of ‘radical’ and ‘fundamentalist’ Islam, of ‘global jihad’ and ‘terror’ is, ironically, historical and recoverable from the irrational.

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Nigeria’s Superstar Men Of God

Who needs the God of the bible with his promises of trials and tribulations, crosses and paths of repentance? Yemisi Aribisala listens to the sermons, counts the money, watches the high-flying life of Nigeria’s mega-preachers and wonders.

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The Meaning of Being Numerous

The man who sets up the bomb is long gone before it goes off.

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Yellow Fever, Nko?

Skin bleaching is often described as a manifestation of ‘colo-mentality’. However, argues Bibi Bakare-Yusuf, mimesis here is both an affirmation and a contestation of power.

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The Chronic: Who Killed Kabila

On January 16, 2001, in the middle of the day, shots are heard in the Palais de Marbre,the residence of President Laurent-Désiré Kabila.

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Who Kill Kabila – Angola Mix

We tune into radio trottoir, radio one battery, radio 33, boca boca to get the word on the street from Angola.

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The cast list of actors and character who make an appearance in the issue includes everyone from Ché Guevara and psychiatrist, political theorist and Frantz Fanon, to Rashidi Muzele, the assassin who pulled the trigger and many more.

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No Pass, But Nine Passports

n her 30 years of exile, Miriam Makeba redefined pan Africanism. She was a woman with nine passports and honorary citizenship in 10 countries.

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DIPALO a mixtape for those who practice counting

DIPALO: a mixtape for those who practice counting, composed, arranged and performed by Muyanga, was released as an audio supplement to issue 16 of Chimurenga magazine

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Timbuktu: An Old African Saying

“The gazelle for me symbolises beauty and grace,” Sissako told the Bloomington audience. Then, he added, “Beauty will save the world,”

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New Cartographies

Since its launch in 2011, every edition of The Chronic has engaged with this question:  […]

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Search Sweet Country

In his first novel, and in conversation with Binyavanga Wainaina, Kojo Laing talks to a future Ghana by exposing its present, full of the jargons and certainties of one dimensional nation building.

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Searching for Rotimi- A Letter From London

Rotimi Fani-Kayode died 29 years ago (21 December 1989), in exile, after […]

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They Won’t Go When I Go

A Manifesto/ Meditation on State of Black Archives in America and throughout the Diaspora by Harmony Holiday

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For over a decade, the man born as Elliot Josephs terrorised Cape […]

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The Impossible Death of an African Crime Buster

Spearman… Lance Spearman – the name synonymous with the intrepid hero of […]

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The Emperor of Kinshasa’s Street Comics

by Nancy Rose Hunt Beginning nearly fifty years ago, in 1968, Kinshasa […]

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Chirikure Chirikure means “that which is far is very far.” He is […]

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HIKIMA – a letter from Zaria

She eyed me. A thing wet around her eyes, like water from the evening rain. Lateef, she said, an incurable emphasis on both syllables: Lah-teef.

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In a testament to Cheikh Anta Diop, Boubacar Boris Diop raises radical views on creative writing, a challenge to what he laments as our literary Sahara.

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The Agronomist

He decided, I’m going to find a way in which I’m going to stop hunger because it’s this that turns us into slaves dependent on our masters, it’s this that decimates communities…

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Monumental Failures

Dominique Malaquais reports from Cameroon on the active objection of one ‘Combattant’ to the negation of many, cast in stone. Decrying these monumental symbols to the least salubrious of colonial exploits, his rebellion is most fitting in a country that stands on ceremony other than its own.

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How Third World Students Liberated the West

In a twist to mainstream tropes of radical student movements of the 1960s, and their impact on the history of political thought and action, Pedro Monaville argues that the terrains of the Third World, and particularly the history of student movements in Congo, are vital to explore if we are to makes sense of how that period informs the present.

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Remembering Biafra

In 1968, Nigeria’s finance minister, agricultural produce mogul Obafemi Awolowo declared: “Starvation is a legitimate weapon of war, and we have every intention to use it against the rebels.”

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Creating Theatre: A George Hallett Photo Essay

“Exile demands contemplation because it is unavoidably real for those who experience […]

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Imagined Waters

Through the poetry of its mariners – the singers of its rivers […]

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The Chronic – mapping the new – soon come

“In that Empire, the Art of Cartography attained such Perfection that the […]

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Poets Are Hurting: Lesego Rampolokeng in Conversation with Mafika Gwala

Mafika Gwala emerged as a significant writer in the 1970s during his […]

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Birthing the American

Yemisi Aribisala explores, with mixed emotions, the enduring opportunism of a Nigerian elite that ensures that generations of children claim US birthright. Despite the assumed status that goes with being born “abroad”, the American dream, she argues, is in fact only a Nigerian backup plan.

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Wrestling With A Warlord

Louis Chude-Sokei narrates a story of Nigeria, of splintered identity, of exile, and of the Biafran War and its godfather – his godfather – the military strategist, strongman and celebrated hero, General Emeka Odumegwu Ojukwu

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Americanah and other definitions of supple citizenships

Yemisi Aribisala reads the new novel by Nigeria’s ‘woman of letters’ and encounters […]

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Nigeria’s Superstar Men Of God

Who needs the God of the bible with his promises of trials and tribulations, crosses and paths of repentance? Yemisi Aribisala listens to the sermons, counts the money, watches the high-flying life of Nigeria’s mega-preachers and wonders.

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Call for an Archive of AfroSonics

The collective improvisations of black America – and their profound impact on poetry and sound – are near impossible to find in the annals of US academe. In fact, their absence is as stark as the control of archiving is white, writes Harmony Holiday.

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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”

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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

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We Make Our Own Food (April 2017)

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.

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The Corpse Exhibition [and Other Graphic Stories] (August 2016)

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,

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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.

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Muzmin (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,

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New Cartographies (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?

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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.

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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.

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The Chronic (August 2013)

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.

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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.

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