You may be wondering why i’m starting this post off with Mothership Connection. as you read on, you’ll understand, also why not listen to something smooth while you read!
to start off, Afrofuturism is in the most basic form, science fiction that focuses attention to ethnic themes and scenarios. there are few authors who center questions of race, history, and the recovery of lost African-American history in their work. those being Alondra Nelson, Greg Tate and Octavia Butler. However, the example that i’ll be looking at is film director John Akomfrah.
Akomfrah has displayed a strong element of Afrofuturism in many of his works, but today, we took a look at his 1996 film “The Last Angel of History” Which is more a documentary to say the least.
Towards the end of the trailer, there was a mention of George Clinton’s 1974 album “Mothership Connection” which turned out to be a heavy influence in the idea formation and making of the film.
Clinton is actually interviewed as part of this trailer and he mentions that during the “Blue” era of music, “black” became a commercial thing, continuing to say that other music genres got pushed to the side during the early 70’s. and lets be honest here, he’s right. Who doesn’t like Black music? and No, not rap, I mean jazz and Blues.
Akomfrah used this to create a metaphor for what is “Alien” and what we perceive to be alien.
when I say the term Alien, what comes to mind? Those weird-Humanoid figures with the big eyes?
sorry to ruin your childhood, but no. That is not an Alien. However, that is a representation of what an alien could be (and a popular one at that). the definition of an Alien is a form or species of life that we are not familiar with. something that we do not know of or understand how they work.
As humans, we have a history of fearing what we do not understand which leads us to disregarding/rejecting what we fear or trying to control what we fear.
a few hundred years ago, ethnic races deemed each other as “Aliens”, hence Slavery, and that’s where Akomfrah’s metaphor of Alien makes sense.
alien abduction where aliens take you from your home planet to other planets? the ancestors of Afro-Americans and Caribbeans have experienced that already!
Aliens Genetically modifying their subjects? for one, many slaves were taken from a hot climate and had to adapt to their new surroundings, not to mention that some slavers uses their personal slaves as sexual objects. (both men and women).
the list can can go on but I believe that Akomfrah creates a solid statement by suggesting it has already happened. We don’t see it because it’s not “alien” to us any more. but remember what and alien is. something you don’t know or understand.
finishing on a more.. positive note, the film was based an George Clinton’s theme of Space-Funk which Clinton Continues to uses in his music my favorite being “One Nation Under A Groove”. Funny thing is I got a Chance to meet Clinton last year at the Southbank center with the performance group Kinetika Bloco. If only i knew i was studying the topic of Afrofuturism, i would have asked him about this..
Before you say anything, Yes, I am in the video. If you look hard enough. where’s Wally, or in this case, Wheres Thorpe?