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Surge Afrofuturism: Festac ’77 and Liberation w/ Ugochukwu-Smooth C. Nzewi and Ntone Edjabe

Join us for a conversation on the histories and futures of African arts, culture, and movements for liberation with w/ curator and scholar Ugochukwu-Smooth C. Nzewi and writer and founding editor of Chimurenga magazine, Ntone Edjabe.

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Event Series Event Series: Surge: Explorations in Afrofuturism

May 9, 2022 @ 7:00 pm 9:00 pm

This event is free and open to the public.

Ugochukwu-Smooth C. Nzewi and Ntone Edjabe will discuss the recent publication of FESTAC ’77, an innovative book and mixtape which is the product of years of research helmed by Chimurenga—a magazine based in Cape Town, South Africa, and one of the most important cultural journals on the continent—in collaboration with Afterall, the London-based journal. Listen to the FESTAC ’77 mixtape here.

The 2nd World Black and African Festival of Arts and Culture which took place in Lagos, Nigeria, otherwise known by the acronym FESTAC ’77, was considered one of the most important cultural events in the Black world in the 20th century. The aims of the cultural fiesta were ambitious: to represent the breadth of Black and African values and culture, to model mutual coexistence with the other cultures of the world, and to position Africa as the original homeland of African diaspora peoples. Through the recent book and mixtape, the editors of Chimeranga recirculate this vibrant past as platform and aesthetic paradigm through which to engage the liberatory possibilities of the future for Africa. As the editors of the book and the creators of the mixtape ask: “Can a past that the present has not yet caught up with be summoned to haunt the present as an alternative?” 

This event is part of Surge: Explorations in Afrofuturism, a multidimensional and transcultural month-long festival on Afrofuturism spearheaded by composer/performer Karlton Hester, choreographer Gerald Casel, and artist Aaron Samuel Mulenga. Afrofuturism is a global artistic and social movement, intent on imagining a world where African-descended peoples and cultures can live and flourish. For Surge, an extended program of music and dance performances, film screenings, and discussions will bring together artists and thinkers to creatively engage Afrofuturist strategies for liberation and the restructuring of society free of racism.

Surge is made possible by generous support from the Nion McEvoy Family Trust, the National Endowment from the Arts, UCHRI, UCSC Academic Senate, Rowland and Pat Rebele, Porter College, and annual donors to the Institute of the Arts and Sciences.

About the speakers

Ugochukwu-Smooth C. Nzewi

Ugochukwu-Smooth C. Nzewi joined the Museum of Modern Art, New York, in July 2019 as the first The Steven and Lisa Tananbaum Curator in the Department of Painting and Sculpture. Previously, he was the Curator of African Art at the Cleveland Museum of Art, where he organized Second Careers: Two Tributaries in African Art (2020) and co-organized Ama: The Gathering Place (2019). Prior to Cleveland, Nzewi was the Curator of African Art at Dartmouth College’s Hood Museum. There his exhibitions included Inventory: New Works and Conversations around African Art (2016), and he spearheaded the acquisition of works by artists such as Kader Attia, Candice Brietz, Ibrahim El-Salahi, Julie Mehretu, and Obiora Udechukwu. At MoMA includes Frédéric Bruly Bouabré: World Unbound, the first survey exhibition on the Ivorian artist Frédéric Bruly Bouabré in the United States. He is currently working on several projects at MoMA including a forthcoming monograph on the Ivorian artist Frédéric Bruly Bouabré.  He leads the Museum’s Contemporary and Modern Art Perspectives (C-MAP) Africa group, which is MoMA’s internal research and exchange initiative devoted to art in a global context. Nzewi holds a PhD in art history from Emory University. As an artist, he has exhibited internationally and is represented in public and private collections including the Smithsonian National Museum of African Art, Washington, DC, and Newark Museum, New Jersey. Recent publications include Frédéric Bruly Bouabré: World Unbound (2022), Dak’Art: The Biennale of Dakar and the Making of Contemporary African Art (2020) and Second Careers: Two Tributaries in African Art (2019).  

Ntone Edjabe

Ntone Edjabe is a Cameroonian writer, journalist, DJ and the founding editor of Chimurenga magazine (est. 2002), a Pan African publication of culture, art, and politics based in Cape Town. The title Chimurenga refers to the Shona word for struggle, as well as to a popular music genre in Zimbabwe. Edjabe’s practice as a DJ weds musical erudition and explicit political engagement centered on Africa’s place in the world. In 2004, he was facilitator of Time of the Writer, and in 2007 he participated in its 10th edition at the Centre for Creative Arts of the University of KwaZulu-Natal. Edjabe is co-founder and member of the DJ collective Fong Kong Bantu Soundsystem. In 2009 he was Massachusetts Institute of Technology Abramowitz Artist-in-Residence. Edjabe also started the Pan African Space Station (PASS), an Internet radio platform streamed live across the African world.  In 2011, he won the Principal Award of the Prince Claus Awards and in 2014, he was a researcher-in-residence at KHOJ.


May 9, 2022
7:00 pm – 9:00 pm
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