Prompts for Future Africa : Gloss

Prompts for Future Africa


  • All prompts are open to interpretation.
  • Ignore or change prompts that do not speak to you in the moment, come back if they speak to you later.
  • Leave your tech behind and go for a walk. Notice things that you would not normally notice.
  • Be prompted. Let your subconscious do all the work of piloting, try not to judge what surfaces and enjoy the trip.
  • Promise to fill the gaps and embellish with glorious detail all the prompts that spark your imagination. See the theatrical world unfold before you with the clarity of a clairvoyant and complete the show in your mind.
  • There are no obligations.
  • Your resources are limitless.

Skipping back and forth along the spectrum of the speculative fiction genres, including fantasy, sci-fi, utopia, dystopia, alternative history, post-apocalyptic, superhero and the rest, Prompts for African Futures are little invitations to engage with how Africa is imagined and might imagine itself in, and into, the future. Inspired in part by Elinor Fuch’s EF’s Visit to a Small Planet: Some Questions to ask a Play (2004), the prompts function as small worlds for which there is no border control. These fragments become exercises in speculative imaginings from, and about, Africa and are designed to contest the legacy of futurist narratives that have been dominated by depictions of the future in literature and film in which black Africans do not feature at all or do so in the most marginal of ways. They are also an invitation to escape the development programme narratives that often plague conversations about the future in Africa and to conceive of African futures outside of a linear progression of events from the past. The reader/theatremaker/audience is here invited to join the growing list of other artists who have viewed the world from the African continent and through a speculative lens including, Nnedi Okorafor, Jepchumba, Teagan Bristow, Frances Bodomo, Wanuri Kahiu, Wangechi Mutu, Kiluanji Kia Henda, Kapwani Kiwanga, and Pamela Phatsimo Sunstrum.


As a place to encounter the unimaginable and the unknown, the speculation is deeply fundamental to theatre making and the re-occurring characters of Edward (Nkoloso) and Esther (Phiri) ensure that past, present, and future are made to co-exist in the theatrical world as they do in the non-linear particularity of African time cycles. Nkoloso was a school teacher who is (in)famously known for founding the Zambian National Academy of Science Space Research and Philosophy, driven by the belief that Zambia would beat the Russians and Americans to space.[1] Phiri, on the other hand, is a boxing champion and currently Zambia’s most famous athlete.[2] They criss-cross through the prompts as time-travelling figures from different eras who each evoke a special kind of independence.





About the Author

Mwenya B. Kabwe is a Zambian-born, South African-based theatre maker, performer, educator, creative facilitator and mother of two. Her original work includes: Please Do Not Leave Your Baggage Unattended (the Drill Hall, Johannesburg 2007); for nomads who have considered settling when the travel is enuf (Out the Box Festival of Puppetry and Visual Performance, Cape Town 2007); 27 Windows, 4 Doors, 2 Taps (Out the Box Festival of Puppetry and Visual Performance, 2010); Migritude's Echo (Out the Box Festival of Puppetry and Visual Performance, 2011); Afrocartography: Traces of Places and all points in between (The Gordon Institute of Performing and Creative Arts, Afrovibes Festival, Wits Main Theatre 2008, 2009, 2013, 2014); 21 Wandah!  (The Market Lab, Johannesburg 2017); A Zambian Space Odyssey and Jacaranda Time with Tegan Bristow and Cameron Harris (The Centre for the Less Good Idea, Johannesburg 2017). Kabwe is also one of the seven 2007 Spier Contemporary winners for a collaborative performance work titled Unyawo Alunampumlo - The Foot Has no Nose (with Chuma Sopotela and Kemang Wa Lehulere). Kabwe’s publications include Transgressing Boundaries: Making Theatre from an Afropolitan Perspective (South African Theatre Journal, 2007); Untethered in a Performance of Afrohybrid (Studio Museum, Harlem New York, 2008); Afrophobia Exposed (Rootz Africa Magazine, 2008); A Tea Party for Unholy Ghosts (Art South Africa, 2011); Performing Africa Differently: A re-imagining of Adrienne Kennedy’s Funnyhouse of Negro (Performative Inter-Actions in African Theatre 2: Diaspora Representations & the Interweaving of Cultures, 2013) and Mobility, Migration and 'Migritude' in Afrocartography: Traces of Places and all points in between (Performing Migrancy and Mobility in Africa: Cape of Flows, 2015). She currently teaches at Wits University School of Arts in the Department of Theatre and Performance.