“Everything you imagine is real”: Afrofuturism and AI

“I came from a dream that the black man dreamed long ago.”

 – Sun Ra, Space is the Place

Dear AfriKin,

I would like to begin with a question: When you imagine the future, what do you see? Where does your mind go? Is it here on Earth, or on a distant planet? Are you frightened of, or excited by what the future holds?

My mind is often plagued by these questions; because I can’t foresee the future, the illusion of it scares me. With all the horror we are confronted with daily, particularly over the last three months, it is extremely difficult to imagine a future where humanity thrives. Much like Sun Ra’s vision in Space is the Place, I imagine a haven tucked away from what besieges us and our fellow marginalized communities, a place where our sacred existence is protected. Despite this overwhelming dread, we continue to surprise ourselves with our resilience. We have seen an influx of people rooting for the liberation of those stripped of their humanity, exposing the lies of the Western propaganda machine, rallying together to show that such levels of devastating chaos are unsustainable, and interrogating the harrowing truth that marginalized people across the globe are still viewed as easily disposable sub-humans.

Against it all, hope and the vision of delivery from suffering prevail. The vision of a utopia prevails. Each time I feel overwhelmed by dread, I remember a moment that changed my perspective on the future and our place in it. One afternoon in a small lecture hall, my art history class was introduced to the concept of Afrofuturism. Merging science and technology with the history and culture of the African diaspora, Afrofuturism encourages optimism instead of fear about the future. I see the creatives who are part of the Afrofuturist movement as time-traveling vanguards of a utopia that will eventually be ours. In daring to imagine a harmonious future between human beings and our natural and virtual environments, Afrofuturism paves a unique way forward in its embrace of the past to visualize a future for us all.

Because of that class, I look for Afrofuturism everywhere. Comics-turned feature-length films like Black Panther, the episode entitled “Zima Blue” from the award-winning Netflix series Love, Death and Robots, and the prophetic works of Octavia Butler and Henry Dumas prompt us to look forward and brace ourselves for what is to come and what can be. A recent portrayal of Afrofuturism was offered in an insightful presentation hosted by AfriKin, spotlighting Delphine Diallo’s Kush Collection.

Diallo’s Kush Collection weaves her passion for analogue photography and exploration of Afrofuturist aesthetics with the emerging force of AI, an overarching theme of the 2023 AfriKin Art Fair. In response to AfriKin’s theme, Diallo showcased a set of AI-generated images portraying vast landscapes reminiscent of parts of Africa she visited. With spiritual insight, she takes viewers into an imagined world informed by her experiences, populated by beautiful black people adorned in jewels and elaborate headpieces, with stares of stoic pride. She was gracious enough to present her work with an illustration of her creative journey, mapping the challenges and triumphs that led to her work with AI.

Through her experimentation with various media, Diallo developed a unique formula to prompt the AI software, Midjourney, to create striking images of reimagined pasts. Her story resonated with the audience that gathered for her presentation; we can all empathize with the pain of stowing away our passions to meet the demands of daily life. Even though creativity will always be needed, the creative is forced to fight various odds. Diallo’s story was a mirror reflecting what many of us face: thankless day jobs, answering to someone, powering through, keeping our work in a drawer hoping that one day something worthwhile will come from it.

For Diallo, the myriad of hurdles she overcame inform her artistic practice. Harnessing the powerful lessons embedded in her personal experience while constantly diving into her imagination, her vision manifests itself in what she describes as a quantum leap into worlds made visible through the medium of AI. She stressed that if something exists in the mind, all we need are the tools to bring our visions of the future, informed by the realities and mysteries of the past, to life.

Through Diallo’s work, Afrofuturism and AI challenge the persistent narrative of a bleak future by presenting infinite ways of imagining freedom. The machine, rather than a harbinger of doom, becomes a mirror reflecting visions of prosperity and possibility. As Space Is the Place resonates, the question arises: why can’t we imagine a place for us to thrive right here?

Afrofuturism stands as a powerful counter-narrative to the prevailing dystopian views of the future, inviting us to reimagine a world where technology, culture, and humanity coalesce in harmony. Diallo’s Kush Collection serves as a tangible example of this vision. Afrofuturism has never solely been an artistic movement, but a guiding philosophy that encourages us to co-author the story of our future.

While AI is often deemed dystopian, there is ample proof of the synergy between human and machine. Think of a cellphone and how it has become an extension of us, how various forms of technology have been incorporated into the everyday; what was revolutionary at one point is ordinary in the present. The tools we have at our disposal allow us to transcend traditional boundaries and create in ways we simply couldn’t before. Everything we can imagine is now within our reach, and people no longer have to wait to bring their ideas to life—the tool has been given to us.

Now, returning to my initial question: When you imagine the future, what do you see? I would encourage all who are interested to visualize the future with the tools accessible to anyone inspired to create art. Diallo’s work confirms that intentional creativity is limitless in the digital universe, so why not indulge it? You do not have to be a visual artist to use this technology, and can come up with your own formula to prompt the tool to create what you imagine. Even though there is understandable apprehension about this new technology, see what you can create when working with the machine. New advancements will always be approached with caution; in the case of AI, many believe it’s blasphemous to call the products of an image generator “art.” But I want to remind you that at some point in the not-so-distant past, people said the same thing about photography.

With gratitude,

Aklil Molosi



AfriKin Ethos: Our Why

At the heart of AfriKin lies a profound purpose: to celebrate and elevate our diverse cultural heritage while fostering a global community rooted in understanding and unity.

I founded AfriKin not just as an organization but as a movement – a response to the deep-seated need for a platform where the rich tapestry of our experiences and expressions could be showcased and appreciated.

I recognize that the emotional trauma and challenges faced by our community are not ours alone. They cross ethnic and cultural boundaries, resonating deeply with people around the world. AfriKin is our answer to these shared struggles, a beacon of hope and solidarity. It’s a safe space where we can collectively heal, learn, and grow.

Our “Why” is simple yet profound: To bridge the divides that have long separated us. In a world where division and segregation are rampant, AfriKin stands as a testament to the power of unity.

We bring people together from all walks of life, offering a glimpse into the beauty and resilience of our culture. Through events, products, and various creative expressions, we not only celebrate our heritage but also provide a platform for dialogue, education, and mutual respect.

AfriKin is not just about what we offer – it’s about the emotional connections we forge, the stories we share, and the inclusive community we build. Our journey unites people in a shared experience that transcends borders and backgrounds. It’s a celebration of humanity in its most vibrant form.

Our mission extends beyond mere cultural showcase; it’s a call to action for empathy, understanding, and change. We stand as a reminder that our struggles and joys are interconnected, and in acknowledging this, we find strength.

Join us in this journey of discovery and unity. Be a part of AfriKin, where every voice is heard, every story is valued, and every individual is an integral thread in the fabric of our shared human experience. This is why AfriKin exists – to connect, to empower, to inspire.

Thank you,

Alfonso Brooks


Tell us your thoughts. Where do you hope to see AfriKin go? How do we move forward and evolve while holding onto the rich traditions that make us who we are?