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Expanding Horizons: Pumzi, Science Fiction and African Cinema

A Podcast by Jude G. Akudinobi, UC Santa Barbara.

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Duration: 1:14:31

African cinema, given its originative ethos as a revolutionary cinema, has largely favored ideological contestations and ‘social realist’ paradigms of representation. As will be shown, using  Pumzi (Wanuri Kahui, Kenya, 2009), contemporary African cinema has evolved from the foundational predilections to richly diverse conceptual, thematic and aesthetic registers. With this film and, notably, engaging the unwieldy genre of science-fiction, Kahui extends African cinema’s penchant for the provocative by posing its fascinating narrative as a parable for and cautionary tale about contemporary global concerns. Thus, through the film’s evocative post-apocalyptic realms, she explores questions of gender, power, humanity, scientific inquiry, resource control, environmental sustainability and, crucially, Africa’s future.

PUMZI: A 20 minute Sci-Fi film about futuristic Africa, 35 years after World War III:  “The Water War”.

Nature is extinct. The outside is dead. Asha lives and works as a museum curator in one of the indoor communities set up by the Maitu Council. When she receives a box in the mail containing soil, she plants an old seed in it and the seed starts to germinate instantly. Asha appeals to the Council to grant her permission to investigate the possibility of life on the outside but the Council denies her exit visa. Asha breaks out of the inside community to go into the dead and derelict outside to plant the growing seedling and possibly find life on the outside.

Jude G. Akudinobi earned his PhD in Cinema-Television from the University of Southern California and he teaches at UC Santa Barbara. His research interests span the complexities of post-colonial literatures, cultural politics, media and cinematic representations, merges theory with practice through poetry, fiction, screenplays, and experimentations with the expressive capacities of the cinematic medium. President of the Advisory Board for African Voices Cinema Series, he has consulted for production companies, reviewed for scholarly journals and presses, served on film festival juries, delivered keynote lectures, and been a special guest at various distinguished workshops, seminars, and conferences

African Studies Center