Ataya: HUMA Interdisciplinary Seminar Series

Speaker: Innocent Akili Ngulube, University of Malawi

Innocent Akili Ngulube, Ph.D., is an accomplished scholar with a doctorate in English from Rhodes University, South Africa. Currently  a lecturer at the University of Malawi, his diverse research interests encompass postmodernism, postcolonialism, transnationalism/diaspora studies, African literatures, Pan-Africanism, African popular culture, African urban studies, gender studies, science fiction, 4IR, AI, and mobility studies. Dr. Ngulube has contributed significantly to academic literature. His scholarly articles include "Beyond Self-Recognition: Fragmented Subjectivity in Alain Mabanckou’s Blue White Red and African Psycho," published in Research in African Literatures. As a postdoctoral alumnus and visiting fellow of HUMA, Dr. Ngulube continues to offer fresh interdisciplinary insights.

Topic: This paper examines the sociocultural prospects of non-normative love in Nick Wood’s novel, Water Must Fall (2020), from within the theoretical intersection of science fiction, feminism, and queer studies. I draw particular attention to the bisexual affair between two female protagonists: Lizette Basson, an estranged Afrikaner wife of Graham Mason, and Busisiwe Mhlongo, a Zulu hydrogeologist at  a multinational water company.  Their bisexual love unfolds in the dystopian worlds of 2048 Durban and North California, which are both ravaged by global warming and its apocalyptic consequences of desiccation.I argue  that Wood’s futuristic aesthetics advocate the ethical necessity of gender activism against heteronormative prejudice and patriarchal injustices. To sustain this worldbuilding orientation, Wood alternates homodiegetic and heterodiegetic points of view within the thematic network of capitalist exploitation, technoscientific innovation, environmental degradation, racism, and intersectionality. n this discursive context, the title of the novel derives from the revolutionary resistance to  ecological malpractices of siphoning and monopolizing depleting reserves of water and selling it at exorbitant prices and taxed rations.

How Ataya works: One presenter and their work – in exchange with the audience. Each Ataya session engages with selected work by the presenter (a text, artwork, performance, even food). The presenter introduces their work and grounds the subsequent discussion with the participants. For best engagement, we recommend participants to view the work (made available in advance on our website) before the session. More on the Ataya Series

Refreshments will be served at 12:30 SAST (GMT+2).

Register to attend: send us an email at

Attending online? Click here to register on Microsoft Teams

 See Google Maps for directions