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Afropolitan is a term constructed from the name Africa and the ancient Greek word πολίτης ('politis'), meaning 'citizen' (itself from polis, 'city').[1] It is an attempt at redefining African phenomena by placing emphasis on ordinary citizens' experiences in Africa. Afropolitanism is similar to the older Panafricanism ideology. However, it defines being an "African" in explicitly continent-wide and multiracial terms, and rejects all pretensions to victimhood.[2]

As Achille Mbembe and Sarah Nuttall write, "In an attempt to overturn predominant readings of Africa, we need to identify sites within the continent...not usually dwelt upon in research and public discourse, that defamiliarize commonplace readings of Africa." [3] These sites include fields like fashion, visual art, music and spiritual concerns.

The term was popularized in 2005 by a widely disseminated essay, "Bye-Bye, Babar (Or: What is an Afropolitan?)" by the author Taiye Selasi.[4] Originally published in March 2005 in the Africa Issue of the LIP Magazine,[5] the essay defines an Afropolitan identity, sensibility and experience. The critiques of the Afropolitan, as portrayed by Selasi in Bye-Bye, Babar, condemn its elitism and class biased approach. Susanne Gehrmann states that Selasi’s Afropolitan “is addicted to urban hip life” and “international careers.”[6] However, the essay is important in discussing where emigrantes of Africa fit into the spectrum of African. Knudsen and Rahbek suggest that Bye-Bye, Babar “is an integral part [in the] ongoing conversation about the relationship between identity and individuality” in the way that it “speaks to the individual” who may feel alone in the sense that they do not have “labels or identities” to understand their positioning in the world.[7] In 2006 the essay was republished by the Michael Stevenson Gallery in Cape Town[8] and in 2007 by The Nation in Nairobi,[9] whereupon it went viral. Several communities, artists, and publications now use the label, most notably The Afropolitan Network,[10] The Afropolitan Experience,[11] The Afropolitan Legacy Theatre,[12] The Afropolitan Collection,[13] and South Africa's The Afropolitan Magazine.[14] In June 2011 The Victoria and Albert Museum hosted "Friday Late: Afropolitans"[15] in London. In September 2011 the Houston Museum of African American Culture convened the symposium "Africans in America: The New Beat of Afropolitans,” featuring author Teju Cole, musician Derrick Ashong and artist Wangechi Mutu alongside Selasi.[16]

Ashong released an online album with the group Soulfège in 2011, titled "AFropolitan."[17] Blitz the Ambassador proposed in 2013 to release the CD "Afropolitan Dreams".[18] Ade Bantu is the co-creator of the monthly concert series Afropolitan Vibes which holds at Freedom Park Lagos, Nigeria.[19]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "-polis, comb. form." OED Online, Oxford University Press, January 2018, Accessed 23 January 2018. "cosmopolitan, adj. and n." OED Online, Oxford University Press, January 2018, Accessed 23 January 2018.
  2. ^ Paul Smethurst; Julia Kuehn, eds. (2015). New Directions in Travel Writing Studies. Springer. p. 343. ISBN 1137457252. Retrieved 24 August 2016.
  3. ^ [1].
  4. ^ "Young, urban and culturally savvy, meet the Afropolitans". CNN. 17 February 2012.
  5. ^ "Bye-Bye Barbar". the LIP Magazine. 3 March 2005.
  6. ^ Gehrmann, Susanne. "Cosmopolitanism With African Roots. Afropolitanism's Ambivalent Mobilities". Journal of African Cultural Studies 28.1 (2015): 61-72. Web.
  7. ^ Knudsen, Eva Rask, and Ulla Rahbek. In Search of the Afropolitan: Encounters, Conversations and Contemporary Diasporic African Literature. Lanham: Rowman & Littlefield International, 2016. Print.
  8. ^ "Clarke's Books". Retrieved 12 November 2011.
  9. ^ Tuakli-Wosornu, Taiye (4 September 2007). "Africa Insight – the New Africans Called Afropolitans". The Nation (Nairobi), reposted in
  10. ^ "The Afropolitan Network:::". Retrieved 12 November 2011.
  11. ^ "The Afropolitan Experience". The Afropolitan Experience. 7 November 2011. Retrieved 12 November 2011.
  12. ^ "Afropolitan Legacy Theatre". Retrieved 12 November 2011.
  13. ^ "By Eniola David". The Afropolitan Collection. Archived from the original on 25 March 2012. Retrieved 12 November 2011.
  14. ^ "The Afropolitan Magazine". Contact Media & Communications.
  15. ^ "Friday Late, June: Afropolitans – Victoria and Albert Museum". Archived from the original on 6 November 2011. Retrieved 12 November 2011.
  16. ^ "Africans in America - The New Beat of Afropolitans”, HMAAC: "This symposium marks the rise of a new cultural influence, brought to America and the world by a wave of fascinating young and creative cosmopolitan African immigrants, so called 'Afropolitans'."
  17. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 3 September 2013. Retrieved 2013-06-18.
  18. ^ "Blitz the Ambassador’s Afropolitan Dreams Block Party"
  19. ^