Octavia Butler was a forerunner for the field of science fiction. She created a legacy in sci-fi that has yet to be matched, being the first to receive a MacArthur Fellowship for science fiction in 1995. She also received the PEN West Lifetime Achievement Award, and many others. Mrs. Butler set the stage for African-Americans in fiction, specifically the genre known as “Afro-futurism”; she used themes of feminism, abuse of power, racism, and alternate futures to help address issues within the black community. Her legacy is a hard one to live up but author Nnedi Okorafor has taken the challenge.
Nnedi Okorafor is a Nigerian American writer born in Cincinnati, Ohio. She has a Ph.D in Literature with two Masters in journalism and literature, so she is well versed in the arts. Dr. Okorafor holds numerous awards for her writings including the Wole Soyinka prize for Literature in Africa. She is a New York Times bestselling author as well. Nnedi Okorafor is best known for works in Afro-futurism and a genre that she calls African-Jujuism, which she describes as “respectfully acknowledges the seamless blend of true existing African spiritualities and cosmologies with the imaginative.” One of her best-sellers “Who Fears Death” is being adapted into a HBO series soon. Some of best works include “Zahara the Windseeker”, “The Akata Witch Series”, “The Binti Series”, and “Who Fears Death”. My favorites include “Akata Witch”, “Who Fears Death”, and “Zahara the Windseeker.
1.“Zahara the Windseeker”
My grandmother first gave this book to me when I was 7 years old. One of my favorite
pastimes was reading. What drew me to the book was the main character Zahara,
when she was described, she looked like me. She has “dadalocks” and at the time I had locs, she was tall and confident, and she was around my age. This was one of the first books that I read where as a young black girl I was represented. The book is considered young adult but all ages enjoy it.
2. “Akata Witch”
What drew me to “Akata Witch” was the duality Akata played. She is an albino girl
living in Nigeria where she is bullied for her skin. She discovers that she has this magical power and goes on a journey. A lot of the world isn’t aware that in some places in Africa albino people are hunted because of their skin, it is the belief that they hold power and magic in their bones. Many are slaughtered because of it. Nnedi exposes this reality within the book with the antagonist but she also plays on the magic people think they have.
3. “Who Fears Death”
“Who Fears Death” is not for everybody. It does contain themes of sexual assault as well as recovery and feminism. The main character who name means “Who fears death?” is born in result of the cruel reality of a genocide and war. Her skin tone shows what happened to her mother and it follows her throughout the book. She goes on a quest to find herself and study under a shaman. I love the spiritual outlook of the book, it has made me cry many times. The book looks at tradition, love, history, death, and nature; it is the embodiment of Afro-jujuism.