Monday October 02, 2017

Why Minister Faust mixes mixing contemporary urban life with ancient African history in his fiction

Minister Faust is the author of The Alchemists of Kush.

Minister Faust is the author of The Alchemists of Kush. (ministerfaust.com/Indigo)

Listen 14:09

Malcolm Azania, better known by his pen name Minister Faust, is a novelist, teacher and journalist. He coined the term "Imhotep-hop" to describe his Afrocentric style of writing. His novel The Alchemists of Kush — originally released in 2011 and republished in 2017 — tells two parallel stories that connect ancient African cultures to modern-day Edmonton.

On the impact of colonialism

"African peoples, wherever they are in the world, have for a long time — because of the experience of colonialism, of being torn away from homelands or having a colonial education imposed on them — have found that their world view has been overwritten. If you have somebody else tell you that everything about you is no good — it's backward, primitive, foolish, superstitious — and they say that they are the pinnacle of civilization or godhood, then you can't help but despise who you are."

On the richness of African culture

"If you hate the roots of the tree, you will hate the tree. If you hate your origins, you will hate yourself. Afrocentricity says no, understand the beauty, magnificence and glory of your thousands of years, of not just history, but recorded history, of Africans as the oldest literary tradition in the world. When you come to understand all of the beauties of the African legacy and it's ancientness, and it's glory, instead of despising it you'll want to embrace it."

On the importance of a name

"Names are symbols and legacies and you decode their etymology if you care about this stuff you're looking for the significance. To be named Malcolm, in honour of Malcolm X, struck me as a legacy that I should take as my honour and duty to live up to as best I can."

What is Kush?

"Ancient Kush is essentially the horn of Africa stretching to southern Egypt, but metaphorically that entire region — Ancient Egypt, Sudan Ethiopia and Somalia — these are ancient civilizations with extensive literary, religious, scientific and other traditions."      

Minister Faust's comments have been edited and condensed