The Universouls on a quest near you!

Black speculative fiction – whether literary, visual, or musical – has always been ready to remix influence from East Asian sci-fi, way ahead of the mainstream. I was reminded of this when I came across Universouls, a project headed by Berelson and Binta Talla, two black creatives based in Paris.

Inspired by a chance hair-do at a video shoot, where Berelson’s hair was styled to resemble a certain character from a fairly well known anime (it might help if you imagine me winking heavily as you read that), Universouls is a collaboration around two new characters, named Emanon X and the mysterious black woman superhero.

From the release statement:

Emanon X

The only thing we know about Emanon X is his superpowers. He woke up as a
young adult, with no memory of his past, like if it’s been erased or he suffered
from amnesia. He learns to master his super powers and skills: energy, night &
long distance vision with his right eye, telekinesis.

Some bad guys and creatures are after him, trying to eliminate him. He’s said to
be the last one of unique race.

Emanon X’s quest to his past will help him understand better who he is, his
original name, where he got his superpowers from, and his mission. Emanon X
is his code name, because of his amnesia. Emanon = “No Name” reversed (read
from right to left), and X is a a reference to the unknown, X-men, And even
Malcom X.

During his quest, he will meet a mysterious woman with superpowers too,
coming from another universe.

He has no information about her. Both of them just feel and know they have to
help each other on their respective quests. The rest is the hands of the destiny!

Mysterious Black Women Superhero
Who is she? Where is she from? Which are her superpowers?

You will have to stay tuned to discover the universe of this mysterious and
discreet queen.

All we know about her, is that she is really charismatic, her strength remains in her silence and her listening skills.

She also has amazing superpowers. Maybe you can start guessing by checking
the details on the photographs…

She is inspired by her creator’s personality: Binta Talla.

Her name…not available yet.

I caught up with Binta Talla for more insight into her work.

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13th April meetup on Urban Farming

What is the future of food production? Can you grow enough food to feed yourself in your own backyard? How do you get started with your own vertical farm?

On Thursday 13th April from 6pm, we’ll be meeting at Impact Hub Birmingham where Food will be the topic of discussion, as we cover everything from urban farming to combatting food waste.

C0083685 Dr Erinma Ochu from the University of Man

Dr Erinma Ochu

We’re especially honoured to be hosting guest speaker Dr Erinma Ochu from Salford University, co-founder of Farm Lab and the Urban Mushroom growing project. She will be speaking about her work and interest in vertical farming.

The event is totally free and open to everyone. As always, if you’d be interested in having a table for your art, crafts or wares, do get in touch by email to

Got any questions? Feel free to ask on our event page. Don’t forget to share!

December meetup!

There’s so much we have yet to catch up on, from the amazing weekend at PAC45 to MozFest to the patreon and the new zines… but before we do that, we better invite you to our next event coming on 8th December at Birmingham Open Media Lab.

Join us as we watch some Nollywood and Ethiopian sci-fi, make comics, catch up on what’s coming next in 2017 and of course chow down on some plantain… Bring yourselves and what you do and don’t be shy. We’re all strange here!

Free tickets are on eventbrite.

Diversity and the pitfalls of techno-liberalism

What good are diversity schemes?

Don’t get me wrong, I’m the kind of person who gladly shares diversity tickets to tech conferences and indeed owes several life changing experiences to the willingness of those with more resources to share them on behalf of those without. I’m an advocate of affirmative action – although it’s always important to add that more needs to be done to offset poor mental health and decreased confidence which can be exacerbated by feeling like ‘the only one’ and the slew of negative expectations; not to mention that simply having a policy of affirmative action means nothing if the environment is still racist. I can appreciate the importance of representation, though hopefully not at the expense of personal/communal dignity and wellbeing.

But as I read the dutiful updates of Zuckerberg’s travels in Africa, the focus on diversity drives within companies such as Google, I also think about the fact five times more black people than white people per head of population in England and Wales are imprisoned. Simply having more black faces at the top of the food chain provides a dubious satisfaction. How does diversity impact the everyday material experience of a community? Can it?

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The Black Maker | Notes on Black tech and innovation

Last week was a week of firsts. On Thursday we hosted our first poetry-art-performance event at the Southbank, co-produced with Birmingham based ArtivistsUK. With barely any time to spare we were back to our 2016 AfroFutures_UK conference, The Black Maker, hosted by Birmingham Open Media Lab.

Featuring world renowned mathematicians, artists, local technologists and makers, The Black Maker was a glorious mix of the speculative and the commemorative; discussions ranged from the use of sonic technologies and fractals in pre-colonial African societies to the innovation and radical verve of black mathematicians working in a field often still beset by overtly racist perceptions of black ability. Through talks, discussion, workshops and music, we explored the range of black innovation in tech and the contributions of black makers to scientific progress.

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