CNN calls Chimurenga Chronic “Africa’s answer to the New Yorker.”
But the truth is the New Yorker has nothing on the Cape Town-based magazine. Chimurenga Chronic is edgy and experimental in a way that the New Yorker could never be.
The reason for this is simple. When you set out to capture the complexities of Africa’s contemporary moment, you have no choice but to be boundary-pushing.
The pan-African spirit of the magazine is channeled through some of the most beautifully provocative writings on African art, culture, and politics.
Every issue of Chimurenga Chronic is curated to retool the language and images we use when we think about Africa. But the latest issue on maps and cartography is particularly so.
It begins with a question: “what if maps were made by Africans for their own use, to understand and make visible their own realities or imaginaries?”
You dont’ have to know too much about the history of imperialism to know how heated and controversial the issue of maps, especially as it relates to the African continent, has been. Maps are not bad in themselves. They let us abstract space so that we can better imagine it. Maps are like mirrors that reflect to us the spaces we inhabit. That’s why whoever maps out a space has control over how space is perceived and how this perception enables us to make the world we live in.
What Chimurenga does is try to figure out what Africa looks like when it is mapped by Africans for Africans and not by powerful imperial powers for their own interests.
According to the press release:
The eight maps in this edition explore “secret countries”, forms of sovereignty and of political and social orders that bypass the state system; Gaddafi’s financial and military network; soft power (the entertainment industrial complex and its relationship with the trendy notion of “Africa Rising”); new trade routes; water conflicts (tied to land and water grabs); neopats and repats (new and returning migrants from the West and Asia); who fights Africa’s wars. Read together with the texts which accompany them (memoir, essays, reportage, fiction) they invite readers to look at our world differently and to consider what is emerging or re-emerging across the continent (geo-politically and otherwise).
The issue is a collection of maps and writings that conceptualize space, mobility, and the flow of all kinds of forces through the continent.
The project, done in collaboration with the Nairobi-based literary magazine, Kwani?, features a collective of writers, philosophers, novelists, and artists rethinking Africa through the problem of mapping.
The issue is fresh off the press and available for purchase at Chimurenga’s website. A selection of free writings from the issue are available for free HERE.