Ambassador Gilmour Remarks
July 25, 2018
Canal Olympia Cinema
Monsieur the Minister of Communication
Monsieur the Minister of Urbanism
Ladies and Gentlemen
It is a real pleasure to be with you this morning to open this conference. Six months ago, I was in this very same movie theater for the premiere of the movie Black Panther. It was the first showing of the film in Togo and one of the first showings anywhere in the world. Since that day – as everyone knows – Black Panther went on to become a worldwide phenomenon. It has grossed more than $1.3 billion, putting it among the top ten most successful films of all time.
But the most incredible thing about Black Panther was not how much money it made but how much passion and enthusiasm it inspired. People everywhere – but especially in Africa – were captivated by the film’s depiction of Wakanda, the technologically advanced African kingdom that is ruled by T’chala, the alter ego of Black Panther. In the movie, Wakanda posseses the genius, leadership, and technological know-how to save the world from destruction.
Wakanda is the embodiment of a concept called Afrofuturism. Afrofuturism is based on the premise that the solutions to the challenges facing humanity lie within the richness of African culture, and the ingenuity of the African people and the African diaspora. It is not a new concept. For almost 50 years, painters, musicians, writers, and filmmakers from the U.S. and other countries have been creating Afrofuturistic art. But, Black Panther gave this concept a massive new level of global exposure.
As the U.S. Ambassador to Togo, I am proud that an American movie has played such a catalyzing role in drawing attention to Afrofuturism, and I am pleased that today’s conference will permit us to further explore this important idea and how it can benefit Togo. Over the hours to come, a group of amazingly talented artists, intellectuals, and experts will examine how the richness of Togolese culture and Togolese traditions can form the base for a new wave of innovative practices and ways of thinking that will help build a brighter future for all Togolese people.
Ladies and gentlemen, for far too Africa has been defined as a place stuck in the past. Europeans and Americans too often look at Africa as a continent where time seems to have stopped centuries ago. Even among Togolese – if you will permit me to say it – there is a tendency to look constantly backwards at the conflicts and crises of the past. The value of Afrofuturism is that it looks bravely at the future. During today’s conference, we will boldly proclaim that the future of Togo will be written by Togolese, and that there is no challenge too great that cannot be overcome by the ingenuity, the imagination, and the strength of the Togolese spirit.
Thank you for your kind attention