Shades of Noir at ‘Cosmic Ashoke’

Afro-futurism allows black people to see our lives more fully than the present allows – emotionally, technologically, temporally and politically. – Womack 2016


‘Cosmic Ashoke’ was Produced by ART!VIST UK & Afro Futures UK In celebration of National Poetry Day 2016 bringing together an event where sound and visuals collide in an afro-futuristic multi-artform experience.’ — Southbank

Diasporic Storytelling plays and has played and will continue to play a big part within Black Culture. Telling our story from past to present and to unseen futures. Cosmic Ashoke took us on an afrofuturistic journey of diasporic storytelling, travelling through the tradition of the Griot to modern day Black British afrofuturism.(Cosmic Ashoke, Southbank 16)

How would I define Afro-futurism currently, not the outdated version of Mark Dery’s in ‘Black to the Future’1994. I personally identify more so with the definition provided in a recent article in the Guardian by Womack, the author of Afrofuturism: the World of Black Sci-Fi Fantasy and Fantasy Culture :

Afrofuturism offers a “highly intersectional” way of looking at possible futures or alternate realities through a black cultural lens. It is non-linear, fluid and feminist; it uses the black imagination to consider mysticism, metaphysics, identity and liberation; and, despite offering black folks a way to see ourselves in a better future, Afrofuturism blends the future, the past, and the present. – Womack in The Guardian 2016

In my current research-based practice I intend to ‘discuss how intersectionality is a useful tool for navigating current oppressive systems and how afrofuturism can be a tool for creating conceptual blueprints for tomorrow’ an approach used by (Aph ko – Aphro -isim) in her VIDEO: Afrofuturism and Black Veganism: Towards a New Citizenship.

As Aph ko, I am also fairly new to Afrofuturism but find it to be an essential radical tool of racial liberation.

The event Cosmic Ashoke’ held at the Southbank centre last week was the ideal space to explore the rhythm of afro-futuristic poetry and performances through unique visual and auditory experiences. It felt like an intimate yet communal journey, the use of synthetic sonic sounds and vibrations and tones. I personally feel like sound plays such an important role within Afro-futurism, like the way a story is told, where the pauses are and prolonged silences.


The night offered a variety of different sounds starting with Nikky Norton Shafau’s narrative on wanting to become an actual storybook.


To poems by Jolade Olusanya and Caleb Femi.


Harmonious acoustic playing Affiejam (


And finally ending with loud vibrational performances by Travis Alabanza (combining soundscape, performance and spoken word) and by Juice Aleem who also performed at the Nitrobeat’s Afro-futuristic event (event link here) all with completely different styles together created a powerful dynamic transcendental journey.


Further Readings and Terms:


Juice Aleem: :  @AleemSaRaSun


Travis Alabanza: @travisalabanza


Caleb Femi: 


Affiejam:  @AffieJam


Jolade Olusanya :


Recent article on Afro-futurism in the Guardian:


Diaspora: any group that has been dispersed outside its traditional homeland, especially involuntarily, as Africans during the trans-Atlantic slave trade.


Griots:  are historians, praise-singers, and musical entertainers. And yet, none of these descriptions quite captures their unique status in Manding [Mande] society.  In the time of Sundiata, griots tutored princes and gave council to kings. They were educated and wise, and they used their detailed knowledge of history to shed light on present-day dilemmas. A Griot is also an African historian.(


Aphro – isms a site dedicated to black feminist thought and critical analysis: