“The definition of an ominous optimist is someone that goes through bad days in his life but is still optimistic for the future” says Mat Randol in “Ominous optimist ft. the solar system.” Such an affirmation synthesizes well the tone of this conversation with Mawena Yehouessi & Steffi Njoh Monny, respectively founder and editor-in-chief of the online platform Black(s) to the Future. In it, we discuss about the political role of science fiction and speculative visions for the African diaspora through humor and (terrestrial and extraterrestrial) gravity.
Steffi Njoh Monny, as in Steffi Graf — same name, same date of birth, only twenty years earlier… and that’s pretty much it — is an urban breeding ground, a feminist dump and a music & fashion junkie. When there’s literally nothing for her to do, she writes, curates and edits content on Africanism, where she blogs about black culture in general. One more proof — if needed — that she feels the Black(s) to the Future experience.
Mawena Yehouessi’s one and only principle is the « praxis ». Think philosophy and art project management but also contemporary dance and being a self-taught “geek”, to sum up her path. Jack of all trades but nonetheless persistent, she won her spurs in the contemporary art world while developing personnal projects : clubbing, publishing, art collectives & exhibitions… B(s)ttF Founder and AD, she aims at enlightening the afro part of the world and performing the future!
Black(s) to the Future is a transmedia platform that endorses a renewed relationship – forward-looking, sustainable and uninhibited ! – with africanness and its means of expression. Our goals ? :
• OVERTAKE a stereotyped collective unconscious on Africa/its diaspora ;
• PROVIDE a critical thought on what is blackness today ;
• NOURISH inspiration through an Afrofuturistic vision of the world.
Black(s) to the Future is a space where creative initiatives come together, taking up the AFRICA + FUTURE challenge. Artists, searchers, intellectuals and onlookers… It addresses everyone involved in the building of tomorrow.
– Mawena Yehouessi, “Mark Dery: Portrait and Interview” on Black(s) to the Future (2015)
– Mawena Yehouessi, “Afrofuturism: The Time Overlapse” on Black(s) to the Future (2015)
– Steffi Njoh Monny, “The Senegalese Cultural Scene Is Currently in Full Swing!” on Black(s) to the Future (2015)
ASSOCIATED CONVERSATIONS ON ARCHIPELAGO:
– “The ‘No-State Solution’: Power of Imagination for the Palestinian Struggle” with Sophia Azeb (April 2014)
– “Claiming Humanity: A Black Critique of the Concept of Bare Life” with Alexander Weheliye (July 2014)
ANOTHER RADIO CONVERSATION WITH MAWENA AND STEFFI (in French):
– Marie Richeux, Les Nouvelles Vagues “Nos Futurs 3/5: L’homme africain est entré dans le futur” with Mélissa Laveaux (France Culture, December 16, 2015)