The Showroom

Continental Afrofutures Lecture Two: The Final Scene of Hyenas: A Fable of Fatal Incorporation

Saturday 11 June 2016, 2–5pm
Free, no booking required


The Continental Afrofutures Lecture series continues with a lecture on Hyenas, directed by Djibril Diop Mambéty (1992).

Hyenas tends to be characterised as a ‘biting satire of today’s Africa’ that has betrayed hopes of independence for the false promises of Western materialism. This traditional reading interprets Hyenas as an Afro-pessimist tale of the formation of the neocolony, in which the victory of materialism over self-determination is staged as the subsumption of Pan-Africanist morality by the modernity of the International Monetary Fund. In the final scene in Hyenas, the passage from poverty to wealth promised by Linguere Ramatou is instituted through the sentence of death upon the grocer Draman Drameh, who accepts his guilt. This final scene can, however, be understood otherwise; not as a sacrifice, but more precisely as an act of incorporation by a corporate personhood whose opacity does not thwart transparency or universality, but instead acts as the fatal precondition for integration into world capitalism.

From this elliptical perspective, the final scene is the prerequisite for a projected future in which Africa rose, is rising, and would continue to rise throughout the first decade of the 21st Century. Yet, in an era of big data in which the future is not forecast from statistical samples but is predicted by algorithms, the act of incorporation in the final scene of Hyenas looks forward to a present in which opacity not only operates as shells of incorporation but has transformed into the ‘blindness’ of algorithms that predict ‘present futures’ rather than ‘future presents’. In the words of Elena Esposito: it is the forward projection of today's uncertainty rather than the open future that produces a present different from today.

In a series of six lectures, Kodwo Eshun presents close readings of overlooked Continental Afrofuture fictions. Eshun will argue that works of fiction that have and continue to invent African futures do exist across the African continent despite arguments that Afrofuturisms are diasporic projects produced in places like the UK and USA.

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