The African experience is grounded entirely on this Earth, its people being not merely humans, but the first humans as we know them to exist.
Where do these two concepts intersect? It seems that the ideas would be at odds with each other, but science fiction can and has been used to present an alternative way to present the story of Africa, its people, and the African experience.
Across science fiction, aliens and extraterrestrial life are a prominent theme. Protagonists may venture across the "final frontier," encountering the savage inhabitants of planets in the neighboring galaxies. These beings are often depicted as grotesque, uniquely lacking in the traits that define humanity.
Extracting the essence of this alien trope can reveal a disturbing similarity to aspects of the African story throughout history. The alienation, or "othering," of the African people by outsiders (particularly European colonists) is epidemic to this day; by defining "alien" as anything opposed to the European ideal, African people were made into outsiders.
Afrofuturist works model this intersection of science fiction and African reality with depictions of space, the unknown, and dystopian futures. Mediums include art, music, and literature spanning decades, even before the ideas supporting "afrofuturism" had been christened as such.
Jean-Michel Basquiat's work, "Molasses," features a derelict-looking robot resigned at the foot of a uniformed human figure driving a vehicle with bars, a jail on wheels. "Molasses" is a likely reference to the slave trade, which produced sugar (and molasses as a marketable byproduct). Slaves, considered property rather than human beings, are made analogous to the robot, suffering at the hands of an authoritative "higher" being. In this way, Basquiat reinvents events of the past through a lens from the future, exemplifying a core tenet of afrofuturism.