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Afrofuturism Then and Now

Conceptualized in the 1950s by cosmic philosopher and jazz giant Sun Ra, Afrofuturism is a wide-ranging social, political, and artistic movement intent on imagining a world where African-descended peoples and cultures can live and flourish. Join us for a discussion with musicians, artists, and dancers working in the Afrofuturist tradition about their creative endeavors aimed towards a better future.

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October 14, 2021 @ 4:00 pm 5:30 pm

A collage of black artist and performers.

Afrofuturism Then and Now
w/ India Cooke, Mandjou Kone, Emmanuel Etolo, Charles Tolliver, and Nelson Harrison
Moderated by Aaron Samuel Mulenga 

October 14, 4-5:30 pm
Online event: Register here

This event is collaboratively produced with Professor Karlton Hester, Music, and Professor Gerald Casel, Performance, Play, and Design

About the speakers

India Cooke

India Cooke is a Grammy-nominated, national and internationally renowned violinist, composer, and educator. She plays a range of genres from improv, jazz, to classical. Cooke has performed with Pharaoh Sanders, Peter Kowald, Sun Ra, Cecil Taylor, Pauline Oliveros, George Lewis, Joelle Leandre, Amiri Baraka and many others. She has also been a featured soloist with the San Francisco Contemporary Music Players. India has performed in Bay Area symphony and opera orchestras, chamber ensembles, and broadway shows. As one of California’s most respected contract artists, she has performed with the Louie Bellson Orchestra, Sarah Vaughn, Frank Sinatra, Tony Bennett, and many others. India has recorded sessions for Atlantic, Fantasy, and Stax records. As a featured recording artist she can be heard on Leo Records with Sun Ra and his Arkestra, Black Saint records What We Live Fo(u)r, Hat Music’s Nomadic Winds, Plainisphares’ African Roots of Jazz, and Sparkling Beatnik Records The Circle Trio: Live at the Meridian. She recorded and released to critical acclaim, her Grammy nominated debut CD as a leader, “Music and Arts’ India Cooke: Redhanded.” India is currently on Mills College Music Department Faculty, Ensemble Directors & Lesson Instructors roster, and teaches at her private studio, India’s Music Room. 

Mandjou Koné

Mandjou Koné is a dancer and dance educator. Born into the Koné family, a Griot family in West Africa, betwen Burkina Faso and Mali renown for their tradition of recording events and passing history down generations, she was invited to the United States to help translate a documentary about the last 40 years of her family’s musical tradition and history, titled Great Great Great Grandparents’ Music, produced by Taale Laafe Rossellini. She has danced and performed with the National Ballet of Burkina Faso and toured with her brother’s group, Surutukunu, and has been a dance teacher throughout the United States for the past eleven years and is currently a dance lecturer at UC Santa Cruz. She was honored with the Calabash Award in Santa Cruz, CA in 2003. 

Emmanuel Etolo

Emmanuel Etolo is the President of the Board of Directors of the Plastic Arts, Ministry of Culture in Cameroon. His artworks are realized from the bark of the Obom tree, and he has had several exhibitions in San Francisco, the West Indies, and France.  

Charles Tolliver

Charles Tolliver is a jazz trumpeter, composer, and co-founder of Strata East Records, based in New York City. Born in Jacksonville, FL, Tolliver made his musical recording debut with saxophone giant Jackie McLean in 1964 with Blue Note Records and has performed and/or recorded with renowned artists such as Roy Haynes, Hank Mobley, Willie Bobo, and The Gerald Wilson Orchestra. He has been awrded the Downbeat Critic’s Choice for best Trumpet and Best Large Ensemble of the Year 2007 by The Jazz Journalists Association with his group MUSIC INC. Tolliver is noted for perfecting his individual and distinctive sound of tradition and improv in his music, setting him apart from other trumpet players. His most recent big band CD “Emperor March” was recorded live the the Blue Note in New York City  and was released in 2009. 

Rahman Jamaal

Rahman Jamaal is an emcee/educator from the Bay Area, founder of Rap Force Academy, and Executive Director of Hip Hop Congress. He began acting in theater productions and playing music at the age of 6, studying and performing for American Conservatory Theatre (A.C.T.) before his starring film debut as “Flip” in “The Beat” which featured at the 2003 Sundance Film Festival. His affiliation with Hip Hop Congress took him across the nation as a performing artist, where he began working on a cultural education initiative using rap as a teaching tool in the community, schools, juvenile halls, and non-profit organizations. In 2014, he won the prestigious Lennon Award in the international John Lennon Songwriting Contest for his song “This Isn’t Art,” also featured in “The Beat.”

Nelson Harrison

Nelson Harrison, PhD is an accomplished musician, trombonist, jazz historian, and Pittsburgh Jazz leader. Harrison has played with numerous legendary musicians such as trombonist of the Count Basie Orchestra, Kenny Clarke, Billy Eckstine, and recorded with Walt Harper and Nathan Davis. He has received a Ph. D. in clinical psychology  is currently active with The Blues Orphans, Wee Jams, and his groups The Work According to Bop, Jazz ‘N Jive, Dr. Jazz and the Salty Dawgs, Blue to the Bone, and Nelson Harrison and Associates. He is cited in the Marquis publication Who’s Who in the East (1979) and has received the 2008 Legacy Arts Project Keepers of the Flame Award, the 2008 Build the Hill Award, the 2008 MCG Jazz Pittsburgh Legends of Jazz Award, African American Council on the Arts Rob Penny Lifetime Achievement Award, the 2009 Jazz Journalists Association (JJA), and the 2015 Jazz Heroes Award, among many others.  

Aaron Samuel Mulenga

Aaron Samuel Mulenga is a Visual Studies Ph.D. student at the University California, Santa Cruz and research asssistant at the Institute of the Arts and Sciences. His area of study includes contemporary art of Africa, post-colonial theory and Africa studies. Mulenga is a multi-disciplined artist with a keen interest in sculptural forms and installation. He recently took part in the inaugural Stellenbosch Triennale (2020) held in South Africa entitled: Tomorrow There Will be More of Us. Mulenga’s art practice is part of his research process for his Ph.D.  Mulenga holds a B.F.A. from the University of Cape Town and an M.F.A from Rhodes University.


October 14, 2021
4:00 pm – 5:30 pm
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