It is conventional to think that people other than Africans explored the continent we know today as Africa in a dynamic interplay with African interests. In responding, Africans’ understandings of their continent took shape, leaving African understandings of “home” fundamentally reactive. Afropolitanism shifts the subject to urbane and literate mobility, exploring how race, gender, and identity inform a lexicon of Africa created after the seventeenth century. This periodization centers individuals but cuts off earlier practices of cultured mobility largely because individuals are so difficult to find in Africa’s historical sources before the eighteenth century. Creative nonfiction, tethered to linguistic, archaeological, and oral textual evidence, returns to individuals creating geographical knowledge of African worlds and of Africa in the world. The story told here unfolds in fourteenth-century Southern Africa. Afropolitan writing may now sample deeper practices of cultured mobility than those generated by enslavement, capitalism, colonialism, and the Anthropocene.

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