The mother of all dances: Simon Njami on “Why Africa?”

Andrew Tshabangu, On sacred ground, 2008.

“Why Africa?” When I discovered the question, I felt tempted to parody this American actor in this ad for some coffee and to answer: what else?

Destabilizing, ironic, direct. These are the first lines of our advisor Simon Njami’s answer to the question that wants to provoke and shake the pre-established ideas on the entire continent. A question that is also a name of our editorial column on Doppiozero and that could not but prod the critical thinking of an intellectual that has always accompanied, sustained and stimulated lettera27’s course.

Simon Njami welcomes the challenge and presents us with an article-long answer, which unfolds in a very personal journey, not stopping at just one question mark: it installs the doubt, opens new questions and expands perspectives. We follow Njami in a dance that offers a glance at his personal story and invites us to join in a wider reflection on the transitory and mirror-like nature of the subjective and collective identity. We retrace this path between the shadows of the African identity of one of the main contemporary curators. We invite you to re-read, together, one of the most intense and poetic contributions to our column “Why Africa?”: The mother of all dances.