Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Activist science fiction?

Strangely enough, it hadn't occurred to me until just yesterday that all of my books (if one takes my War & Mir trilogy as a single work) are in part or in large measure about community activists.
In The Coyote Kings, Hamza and Yehat run an intermittent “Coyote Camp” during summers where local (largely newcomer or second-generation Canadians) can play street hockey, launch model rockets, build trebuchets, put on plays, and do other amazing boffo stuff.

In my Kindred-winning and PKD-runner up political satire Shrinking the Heroes (originally published as From the Notebooks of Doctor Brain), the L*A*B (League of Angry Blackmen) not only supply security for their neighbourhood of Langston-Douglass, they run programmes such as “Free Breakfast for Shorties,” “Africa Medallions for Homies,” and “Free Fades, Flat-Tops, and Afro-Picks for Soul Brothers.”


In The Alchemists ofKush, Brother Moon and company run a youth organisation called the Alchemists (AKA the Street Falcons) aimed at teaching African histories, entrepreneurship, the arts, martial arts, and community organising itself to young from a wide variety of backgrounds (Somalis, Sudanese, South Sudanese, Ugandans, Rwandans, pioneer African-Canadians, and more).

In War & Mir, on the alien world of Qorodis in the country of Shr Koioon, after a bitter experience in a massive agri-gulag, Harq attempts to build an inclusive union that will stop excluding Humans.


I can’t say I’d intended to write “activist fiction” in most of those cases (although I’m delighted to find out I did) any more than I’d intended to write what academic Lisa Yaszek informed me was “domestic science fiction”—that is, novels that include a focus on life in the home. To me, writing about the home (including cooking) seems totally obvious and natural. Why do any writers exclude such basic and central aspects of life from their work?
But in the case of War & Mir, a revisionist space opera and non-comedic political satire, I consciously set out to explore the work of activists, which to the best of my knowledge is almost completely absent in the canons of science fiction and fantasy.
Those genres, so concerned with titanic struggles of good and evil, seem to operate on the political delusion that smashing the villains will create a better society, rather than merely creating a vacuum for more villains to fill (and leave previously-existing social ills including racial and gender supremacy in service of economic exploitation to continue reaping profits and destroying individuals, communities, and nations).
I attempted to address that delusion (though briefly) in the Alchemists’ oath, which included a devotion to “replace/elevate” (a phrase I got from a Grand Puba line in Brand Nubian’s anthem “Wake Up”). One cannot make a better world by destroying evil alone. One must create good that is better adapted to the environment (or change the environment) so that evil cannot thrive and good can reproduce itself.


While there are non -SF/F classic novels dramatising activism (John Steinbeck’s The Grapes of Wrath, Ralph Ellison’s Invisible Man, Richard Wright’s Native Son, Mongane Serote’s To Every Birth Its Blood, Andre Brink’s A Dry White Season, among others), I’m curious to know other which—if any—SF/F novels address activism (Ursula LeGuin’s The Dispossessed dramatised an already existed anarchist society, rather than activists trying to change their society or create a new one)—and how they do so.
So please educate me!

Monday, September 08, 2014

Minister Faust named Writer in Residence at Canada's second largest university


Canada's second largest university, the University of Alberta, has nominated me as the 2014-15 Writer in Residence.

Valued at $50,000, the cash equivalent to the Scotiabank Giller Prize, the residency entitles me to write my own work (which includes finishing my War & Mir trilogy and creating several screenplays) and to help writers (from novices to professionals) of the greater Edmonton community to advance their writing.

To the best of my knowledge, I am the first Kenyan-Canadian to be made Writer in Residence at any university or college in the world, and one of the very few African-Canadians to become a Writer in Residence at any Canadian university.

I will be hosting four literary salons called AUTHORPALOOZAS, featuring at least sixteen Alberta writers from various disciplines (novels, poetry, song lyrics, comics, video games, plays, journalism, blogs, and more), who will come on stage to read from their work and/or be interviewed by me.

I will also be vlogging, posting original interviews with acclaimed novelists such as Robert J. Sawyer and comic legend/TV literary host Rick Green, on their approaches to writing.

I'm honoured to be the Writer in Residence at my alma mater, where I earned my BA English and ADBEd English, and look forward to helping build E-Town's literary community. We already have hundreds of outstanding writers in many disciplines--I'm hoping this year we'll channel our energies so that we all benefit.

Saturday, August 30, 2014

#AfricaIsNotYourSynonym


1. Africa is not a country.


2. Africa is 55 countries and 1 billion people. But if Africa *were* one country, the GDP per capita would be higher than that for India or China. See Vijay Mahajan's Africa Rising.

3. This poster grossly misrepresents the experiences of 1 billion people in 55 countries. See the world's leading multi-disciplinary, statistical survey of Safety & Rule of Law, Participation & Human Rights, Sustainable Economic Opportunity, and Human Development of Africa's 55 countries as prepared annually by the Mo Ibrahim Foundation.

4. This poster continues the standard White liberal positioning of a mythic, monolithic "Africa" as the ultimate contrast for the White techno-civilisation: as a sprawl of unrelenting misery and deprivation, and therefore a place to focus White liberal pity (which is to say, a racist illusion of superiority masquerading as compassion), rather than addressing realities of, say, water desalination, business and technology, leadership, secondary education, post-secondary education, fashion, animation, video games, the construction of the “Silicon Savannah,” Kenya’s Konza City, or any number of other stories that would be standard reporting about modern Western countries or Japan.

5. Canada and United States contain plenty of misery and deprivation specifically related to water scarcity—some of it caused by colonial racism, capitalism and racism, or climate change and capitalism. There is no need to create and distribute a racially, economically, and politically misleading image to discuss the ALS challenge or water scarcity.

Stop reposting content embodying the standard White liberal vision (i.e., racist misunderstanding) of the realities of 55 African countries and 1 billion people, and replace such material with accurate, broadly representative stories, demonstrating actual problems, yes, but also, actual everyday life which includes excellence in every sphere of human activity.

Thursday, July 12, 2012


Join me for the launch of my new novel, War & Mir, Volume I: Ascension, a revisionist space opera like The Phantom Menace on meth.

Corporations dominate the third world, second world, and first world.How long will it be until they control the entire solar system?

WHERE: Happy Harbour Comics, 107th Street + 104th Avenue across from MacEwan U  downtown.

WHEN: July 18 (Wednesday), 7:30 - 8:30 PM

OCCUPY THE SOLAR SYSTEM!

Thursday, March 01, 2012

AFRICENTRIC RADIO, 2012 February 29: Ralph Nader on the Global Threat of Energy Inefficiency + David Barsamian on Politics and Alternative Radio



Listen to/stream the February 29, 2012 edition of AFRICENTRIC RADIO for:

Minister Faust’s exclusive conversation with Alternative Radio founder David Barsamian in advance of his speech for the Edmonton Public Library’s Freedom to Read Week, a free event this Saturday night at the Stanley Milner Branch.

Ralph Nader on medicare and the global threat of energy inefficiency

A commentary by journalist Mumia Abu Jamal on one of the most significant revolutionary thinkers of the 20th Century, the Martiniquan psychiatrist and national liberation insurgent, Frantz Fanon!

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Sunday, February 26, 2012

Irfah Aden: Whoomp, there she is! The Somali National Women's Basketball Team

By Irfah Aden
 
I would not call myself a sports enthusiast. And lord knows I’ve never broken a sweat intentionally. But I feel compelled to share this story. I’d like to introduce you to the Somali National Women’s Basketball Team.

While this image may appear to depict a run-of-the-mill basketball team, the Somali National Women’s Basketball Team is anything but ordinary. They recently competed at the Arab Games, where they won two thrilling matches against Kuwait and the host nation, Qatar.

This was no small feat, and while they did not win any other matches, they will return to Somalia as national heroes. Somalis all over the globe have been inspired by the team’s perseverance and courage against challenges that would make the most confident daredevil faint-hearted. In fact, these women have sparked a pride in our people and a renewed hope in the possibility of a peaceful and prosperous Somalia.

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Engineering medical miracles: Ephrem Takele Zewdie helps patients upgrade their own spines to regain the ability to walk

Ephrem Takele Zewdie is nothing short of amazing. Still only 25 years old, Zewdie is fundamentally transforming people’s lives by performing electro-medical miracles.
And yet he’s so humble and down-to-earth that he chats about his results with the casualness most people would reserve for discussing how they mowed the lawn.
Zewdie’s a doctoral student in Biomedical Engineering at the University of Alberta. And six years after arriving in Edmonton by way of Hong Kong and Ethiopia, he’s devoted himself to helping people overcome incomplete spinal cord breaks. 
When asked if he might, one day, help someone walk again, he responds calmly, “Actually, we’ve already helped a couple of people walk again. No, wait… three people.”
According to a study from the Rick Hansen Institute, about 4200 Canadians experience spinal cord injuries each year—about 42 per cent of which result from car accidents—and currently more than 85,000 Canadians live with the results. Aside from resulting psychological and family trauma, those injuries also cost the Canadian economy around $3.6 billion annually, about half that in direct medical costs.
Some people experience only partial severing of their spinal cords; their mobility loss in limbs and trunk can vary widely from loss of dexterity to loss of the ability to walk. Following post-injury spinal operations, patients may have to wait up to eight weeks to know their fate, because medical tests and surgery can leave tissues swollen or filled with fluid, thus disguising the full extent or even causes of their injuries. For many patients, the long wait is agonising.
But if Zewdie and his colleagues at the U of A’s Biomedical Engineering Department continue to succeed in their work, one day millions of people around the world could regain their mobility.

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Friday, January 20, 2012

Welcome to AFRICENTRIC MAGAZINE!

Africentric is a full-colour glossy, a gorgeously designed and photographed monthly lifestyle and current affairs magazine.
The upbeat, exciting magazine features fashion, health, music, arts, science, technology, and business news, as well as columns by famous local and global figures and original reporting on local, national, and international issues.
With initial distribution to Edmonton, Calgary, and Fort McMurray, Africentric is the only magazine of its type, size, and quality with wide distribution to African-Canadians where they are and where they go: African-Canadian businesses, restaurants, professional offices, hair salons, churches, and mosques, as well as at high-traffic mainstream locales including, colleges, libraries, and major grocery stores.


NEWS
From Algeria to Zimbabwe, from Togo to Tobago, from the Amazon to Alaska, Africentric Magazine explores how global Africans across the planet are living, working, and creating the present and future.

From British Columbia to the Arctic Circle to the Maritimes, Africentric Magazine carries up-to-date coverage of the numerous ethno-national communities that make up the African-Canadian experience.

Edmonton, Calgary, and other municipalities in Alberta are home to thriving African-Canadian communities. Some of those communities began more than a century ago, and others are just beginning their African-Canadian odyssey. Africentric Magazine delivers their discoveries, experiences, and successes every month.


ECONOMICS

The best way to predict the future is to create it. Every month, Africentric explores the frontiers of labour, fair trade, and entepreneurialism to give you the information you need to build your future.

ENTERTAINMENT

Every month, Africentric engages film, television, comics, and gaming, delivering news and opinion about exciting cultural production around the African planet and beyond.


MUSICS
There’s no such thing as African music.
Nope.
There are, however, countless musics from across the African planet: multiple styles ad innovations from 54 countries on the continent, from all around the Caribbean, and from South, Central, and North America.Africentric delivers news about and interviews with African-Canadian talent and musicians from around the world.


BOOKS
More people can and do read today than at any time in human history. Indeed, this is a golden age for global African writers and the books they’re creating. Africentric delivers reviews, interviews with astounding authors, and the regular feature Favourite African Writing in which celebrities and folks in the community discuss their favourite books by African writers from any part of the world: from South Africa to Southern Alberta, from Brazzaville to Brazil.
MIND
The mind is the most powerful and versatile processor you possess. And education is one of the most easiest means to upgrade that processor continually, to shape yourself and your world.
But far too often, people simply accept their minds as they are, and the education they’re given, without questioning how they could change their own thought patterns, or how the content and delivery of education could be so much better.
Every month Africentric delivers thought-provoking articles on neurological and psychological frontiers, innovative directions for education, and fascinating developments in science and technology, all so that you can overwrite old programming to become a newer, more dynamic you.

BODY
Staying fit? Or just trying to get fit? Join fitness trainer and competitive bodyshaper Cara Fullerton for her monthly discussion of making your body strong and beautiful.
























And just to make things harder on you, Africentric will also review the best global African restaurants, telling you whose jollof is most joyful, whose muscalo is the most succulent, whose beef tibs are tangiest, and whose chicken is the biggest jerk.
OPINION
Africentric features up-and-coming local journalists, and internationally accomplished writers, culture-creators, and world-shapers, including:
  • Sudanese telecomm billionaire Mo Ibrahim
  • African-American culture writer Greg Tate
  • Somali-Canadian blogger and opinion writer Idil Holif
  • Trinidadian-Canadian reggae star Waymatea of Souljah Fyah
  • Pioneering Ugandan journalist and editor Andrew Mwenda
  • Jamaican-Canadian hip hop sensation Arlo Maverick of Politic Live
  • Nigerian-American engineer, inventor, author Ndubuisi Ekekwe, founder of the African Institution of Technology, an organization seeking to develop microelectronics in Africa, and
  • African-American cartoonists Brandon Howard and Sean Mack, creators of The Revolutionary Times.
 









HISTORY & CULTURE
There’s nothing like the pride and power that come from knowing one’s history.
All scientists, engineers, entrepreneurs, writers, artists, and justice leaders build upon the greatness that came before them in order to make their own. Knowledge of the past is the foundation upon which their own excellence ascends.
The same is true for every nationality. And while it’s legitimate to decry the total absence of an Africentric perspective in public education and corporate media (whose coverage rarely extends beyond the Four Ss: slavery, starvation, singing, and steroids), why curse the silence when you can turn on the sound system?
Every month, Africentric profiles fascinating and inspiring events, shapers, and leaders from global African histories, giving you, the children and students of the community, and your peers all the inspiration needed to ascend to the top.

FASHION


The international scene is sizzling with designs by global African designers. Join Africentric every month for coverage of the latest fashions, hairstyles, make-up techniques, and more.



Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Troy Davis will not die tonight



"The execution of Troy Davis was delayed temporarily by the US supreme court on Wednesday night, in a dramatic intervention just as he was due to be put to death by lethal injection.
"As the first news came in at the Jackson prison that houses death row, a huge cheer erupted from a crowd of more than 500 protesters that had amassed on the other side of the road.
"Davis's supporters kissed each other and threw placards which read "Not in my name" into the air.
"But the jubilation was short-lived. Talk of a reprieve from the US supreme court quickly gave way to rumours of a stay, and finally the realisation that the court had only ordered a temporary delay as it considered the matter. The mood then grew more sombre as the waiting game that has now been going on for years with Davis resumed."

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The Georgia State government is about to murder Troy Davis


As of this writing, Troy Davis is still alive. But barring unforeseen intervention, by the time you read this, the government of Georgia state will have executed him.



Troy Davis is an African American man convicted of killing a Euro-American policeman. The Guardian newspaper in England has an article entitled “Troy Davis: 10 reasons why he should not be executed." Those reasons include:
  • That of the nine trial witnesses who said he shot policeman Mark MacPhail to death, seven have since recanted their claims.
  • “Many of those who retracted their evidence said that they had been cajoled by police into testifying against Davis. Some said they had been threatened with being put on trial themselves if they did not co-operate.”
  • Sylvester Coles “was the man who first came forward to police and implicated Davis as the killer. But over the past 20 years evidence has grown that Coles himself may be the gunman and that he was fingering Davis to save his own skin.”

The case has drawn international attention, including calls for clemency from Pope Benedict, Archbishop Desmond Tutu, and former US president Jimmy Carter. Below is a four-part discussion on the Davis case by Amnesty International.







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Friday, September 16, 2011

The link between firefighters and modern slavery


(Charles Kernaghan spoke at the Convention of the International Association of Fire Fighters in San Diego, California, during August 2010.)

For millions upon millions of workers worldwide, exploitation remains a fact of life. Around 35 million coloured women and girls, mostly in Asia, working in conditions that most North Americans could not imagine enduring, sew the clothing and make the shoes upon which we spend billions of dollars. Most of them walked away with pennies for each hour of their drudgery and misery.

Discussing their fate and how it connects with the corporate drive to crush labour unions in North America is Charlie Kernaghan. Kernaghan heads the New York-based Institute for Global Labour and Human Rights (formerly the National Labour Committee), an NGO of global labour advocates who risk their own safety in the pursuit of justice for some of the most exploited workers in the world through exposing human and labour rights abuses perpetrated by US companies producing goods in poor countries.

Kernaghan, who’s made a living as furniture mover, carpenter, cab driver and university instructor, began his crusade for workers’ rights in 1985. But his international fame came from rattling the chains of one particularly famous hypocrite: Kathie Lee Gifford of Live with Regis and Kathie Lee.

A portion of Gifford’s family clothing line profits was supposed to aid disadvantaged American children. But the clothes themselves were made in Honduran sweatshops by thirteen year-old girls working thirteen-hour shifts for 31 cents an hour, under armed guard.

Gifford broke down in tears on North American television when Kernaghan broke the story, threatening to sue him and the tiny NLC. Her threats crumbled into defeat when she was eventually forced to sign a code of conduct which was to include independent monitoring, a story detailed in the acclaimed Canadian documentary The Corporation.


Being known as “the man who made Kathie Lee cry” is enough to endear Kernaghan to many; he’s been written up in Mother Jones magazine, been featured on David Barsamian’s Alternative Radio and gives somewhere around seventy speeches a year.

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Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Glen Ford on America’s Ignored Imperial Wars


Many people uncritically assume that the current Western war on Libya, which includes Canadian warriors, is aimed at bringing freedom.

No doubt, the Libyan people have suffered under the Qadhdhaafi dictatorship (a dictatorship that used executions as surely and as wickedly as do Saudi Arabia, China, Cuba, and the USA)… but they were suffering under the last seven years of the Western courtship with Libya.

And innocent people also suffer under numerous Western-backed dictatorships or occupations, as in Saudi Arabia, Yemen, Bahrain, Israeli-occupied Palestine, and many other countries.

It’s absurd to assume that countries would spend literally billions of dollars to “bring freedom,” when those same countries spend billions to suppress freedom elsewhere.

Countries spend billions in order to get billions.


If you understand that and nothing else, you’ll understand more about how the world works than someone who knows everything but that. 

Libya possesses trillions of dollars of oil reserves. The Democratic Republic of Congo possesses trillions of dollars of mineral reserves. And both of those countries are targets of direct or indirect Western military destabilisation or attack.

Addressing those assaults tonight is Glen Ford. A journalist and editor, he co-founded of the online magazine The Black Commentator, and is a founding editor of the online magazine The Black Agenda Report. His career in news and broadcasting started early. Ford was only 11 years old when started reading newswire copy on air in Columbus, Georgia, and by 1970, was working as a broadcaster at a radio station owned by James Brown.

Ford later created Black World Report, a syndicated half-hour weekly news magazine, and in 1974 worked for the 88-station Mutual Black Network for which he was the Capitol Hill, State Department and White House correspondent.

In 1977, Ford co-created, produced and hosted America’s Black Forum, commercial televisions’ first nationally syndicated African-American news interview program, generating international headlines and commanding the attention of White news services such as AP, UPI, Reuters, Agence France-Presse and Tass.

Ford's many successes include the cultural broadcasting of his Black Agenda Reports, Rap It Up (the hip hop show he founded in 1987 which was the first nationally-syndicated show of its kind in the US), and three national hip hop conventions.

Ford’s been an editor and report for three newspapers, the author of the book The Big Lie: An Analysis of U.S. Media Coverage of the Grenada Invasion, and a national political columnist. In 2006, Ford and his writing team left Black Commentator.com to found BlackAgendaReport.com, an influential online political analysis magazine.


Glen Ford and Black Agenda Report have been at the forefront of analysing what Ford calls Obama-mania. Recognising the historical significance of the Obama candidacy, Ford has refused to be blinded by image and instead to engage substance. For his rigor, Obama’s boosters have vilified him.

On March 26, 2011, Glen Ford spoke in Washington, DC at the Black is Back Conference for Social Justice, Peace and Reparations, at a forum addressing U.S. imperial wars on Haiti, Congo, Libya, Colombia and other targets historically ignored by most of the Euro-American Left.


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