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Mashudu & Qhayiya – Afrofuturism meets workspaces – a vision?

There is an obsession with the idea that tangible change requires revolutionary change. The truth is any form of change is embedded in some kind of shift in the fundamental ideologies that govern the aspect needing change. However, it does not need to be revolutionary; tangible change merely requires some form of fundamental change.

The fundamental ideologies that predominantly govern the modern-day workspace are Eurocentric in nature; from the dress code to the corporate code. To advance with the times and be more attuned to the world we currently live in, the workspace should be pre-eminently representative of a global society characterized by the community and a sense of camaraderie. Camaraderie cannot exist without the acknowledging and dismantling of a system that continues to perpetuate inequalities. The world “dismantling” may seem to have negative connotations in most cases, but not in this written piece. By dismantling, we mean breaking apart the system into pieces, critically examining each piece that can work to benefit the greater well-being of society, and merging the dismantled pieces with the ideas of the marginalized to form a complete jigsaw that’s in unison with the vision of one shared truth that can propagate equality going forward.

It’s about time the modern-day workspace meets Afrofuturism!

Afrofuturism is an Afrocentric concept that has managed to begin to position itself well in the literary and visual art space; introduced to the world by Mark Dery in his awesome piece titled ‘Black to the Future’, the most inspiriting work that has been done recently is the superhero movie based on a Marvel Comics character called Black Panther. Other noteworthy Afrofuturists (that you can go check out in your spare time) are Melanie Goodreaux, Jessica Valoris, Delta Major, Janelle Monae, and Tim Fielder.

Basically, Afrofuturism strives to fuse ‘Afrocentricity’ with ‘Futurism’ and has managed to gain great attention among creatives but remains marginalized in the corporate world. The success of the theme in the literary and visual art space can be attributed to a willingness by individuals in the space, to shift their mentality, broaden their horizons and open themselves up to new worlds.

The problem that a lack of representation creates is that when we expect less from Africans, we perpetuate poverty – this can be demonstrated by the continual use of foreign aid which has only yielded a sense of dependency among Africans and very little development on the continent. Speaking of development, to push Afrofuturism to the forefront of mass consciousness, a process of decolonization of curricula at education institutions on the African continent needs to ensue. This is not a foreign idea to many Africans on the continent of Africa and in the diaspora. History permeates the narrative of Africa being synonymous with suffering and various negative imagery. ”The kid with flies on his face with a bloated stomach” imagery needs to be replaced by the imagery of thriving kids of the soil breaking poverty cycles to uplift the face of their communities. Please, Africa is more than just lions, buffalos and plush jungles!

This is why we deem representation being at the core of association and the world can only become more global if it is more representative. The cultural significance of black people in corporate spaces needs to be highlighted by allowing them to be themselves wholeheartedly.  

It is common for institutions of higher learning (such as universities and colleges) to evince a Eurocentric aesthetic in their architecture which unsurprisingly holds major significance in how it influences individuals and the companies that these individuals end up working for.

Some wise dude on Google said, “The best way to predict the future is to create it”. Our behaviors will affect generations to come, the same way the behaviors of the previous generations affect us now. The social aspect of modern work culture and its importance in shaping a major part of the future cannot go ignored. Replacing our ‘efficient’ ways of communicating with more ‘emotive’ ways might just spark tangible change.

In her very popular TED Talk with over 8,5 million views on “The Danger Of A Single Story”, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie said “I’ve always felt that it is impossible to engage properly with a place or person without engaging with all of the stories of that place and that person. The consequence of the single story is this: It robs people of dignity. It makes our recognition of our equal humanity difficult. It emphasizes how we are different rather than how we are similar.” According to various smart economics people, the wealth gap between the “haves” and the “have nots” is constantly increasing. The “have nots” typically describes Sub-Saharan African countries. Now tying this with Queen Chimamanda’s statement, what we are trying to say is that we are already stuck in the mud when it comes to wealth, so it is up to us to not let the dignity gap (yeah that’s a thing according to us) keep getting wider between the “haves” and the “have nots”. Afrofuturism brings dignity to the” have nots” and deserves to be accepted and encouraged in areas such as the corporate world.

According to a report released by the World Bank, 1 in 4 people will be Sub-Saharan African in 2050; whereas the ratio was 1 in 13 in 1960. These indicators give us a greater perspective regarding the problem at hand and support the fact that the incorporation of Afrofuturism in the workplace is long overdue. I believe that the more Afrofuturism is delayed in the workspace, the more people aren’t working to the best of their potential due to factors like imposter syndrome (not feeling enough) and having an identity crisis (not being enough).

The perception of Africa to fellow Africans and the world needs to change. The change we need may be unlocked in the future workspaces by simply allowing Africans to embrace their diverse culture and be themselves.

“All that you touch you change. All that you change, changes you.”- Octavia Butler

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