African Horror isn’t a topic that has ever been bestowed upon me, which is a shame because as a horror fan I’m constantly looking for ways to broaden my knowledge when it comes to sub-genres of the terrifying topic. Yet The Miskatonic Institute of Horror Studies are continuing to ensure that horror aficionados can have access to classes that cover a broad range of horror subjects; with their fourth masterclass in the series for this year looking at this cultural fear with African Horror: Shades of Superstition.
The masterclass was hosted by Nuzo Onoh, also known as The Queen of African Horror, who has garnered her reputation through writing African Horror literature herself and spending her time educating those like myself about the history of African Horror, what influences the literature, and how it should have a place amongst modern horror in today’s society. Onoh opened her class with a little information on a traditional saying “Onye-Mmọ” which means “spirit entity” and is a way to call out a demon by its true name in order to vanquish it or call out a confused/malicious ghost by its true identity. It was obvious from this interactive opening that the entire audience was in for an evening of cultural learnings and understanding about the spiritual, religious and ritualistic aspects of African horror.
Throughout the class, we looked at what constitutes African Horror literature and how this can be defined against other pieces of fiction. We then delved into many of the ancient superstitions that exist in Africa and how they heavily influence the written works that we can read today – Nuzo also spoke about how these superstitions and beliefs can have a negative impact on communities throughout Africa and the wider world, leading to devastating endings for many people involved. It’s this history that I found invaluable and wouldn’t have been able to find elsewhere as Nuzo has first-hand knowledge and experience with everything that she spoke about.
We looked at the folk and lore from Africa that still exists to this day and how it has evolved but often stayed the same to preserve traditions that have defined the heritage of African Horror. This class was one of the most fascinating classes I have attended and meant that I was fortunate enough to learn something completely new and open my eyes to a sub-genre that is just as dominant as many others within the horror world. Nuzo is the perfect teacher and ensured that we all understood the most important aspects of the topic, whilst keeping the lesson fun and interactive.
Once again The Miskatonic Institute of Horror Studies have given horror fans another glimpse into just how broad horror can be, and also how it’s one of the genres that generates so many intelligent discussions.
The next masterclass is on May 9th at 7pm, The Horse Hospital Holborn (nearest station Russell Square) and will be looking at the stories from the infamous Clive Barker. If you’re interested, there are only a few tickets left for Hellbound Hearts: The Dark Art of Clive Barker so best be quick and grab yours here.