Southbank Centre’s Africa Utopia festival returns in a new collaboration with Indaba X for three days of all things Africa and its diaspora across music, comedy, performance, literature, fashion, talks, debates, workshops and free activity across Southbank Centre’s 17-acre site (13-15 September 2019).
The festival, now in its seventh year, celebrates and explores Africa and its diaspora’s influence in shaping the way we think about art, culture, gender, race, sexuality, fashion, activism and society. New for this year’s festival, Southbank Centre is pleased to be working with co-curators Indaba X who, with The Kofi Annan Foundation and Event Horizon, powered by Live Nation, are a new initiative designed to celebrate, inspire and bring together the African diaspora through a range of art forms and cultural disciplines.
Africa Utopia 2019 will encompass an exciting line up of leading artists and voices from the African continent and its diaspora. Here’s what visitors can look forward to:
- Opening the festival, The Kuti family presents “Afrika Shrine Alive” bringing the atmosphere and energy of the iconic New Afrika Shrine in Ikeja, Lagos to Southbank Centre’s Royal Festival Hall for an evening of live music and dance. Celebrating the legacy of pioneer of the Afrobeat music genre, Fela Kuti, performers include four-time Grammy-nominated Nigerian musician Femi Kuti with further names to be announced.
- A chamber ensemble from Chineke! Orchestra, Southbank Centre Associate Orchestra and Europe’s only professional majority-BME orchestra, return to Africa Utopia performing Errollyn Wallen’s NENNA, and an arrangement of the highlife song Sweet Mother by Prince Nico Mbarga, sometimes referred to as ‘Africa’s National Anthem’. In a free event, Chineke! Junior Orchestra invites audiences to sit amongst the players and hear music performed up close.
TALKS AND PANELS
- Olympic gold medallist Denise Lewis, English sports pundit and former NFL player Osi Umenyiora and American former basketball player Jay Williams discuss the power and price of protest in sport.
- American fashion model Bethann Hardison and British fashion designer Ozwald Boateng explore how the fashion industry can better represent diverse identities, both on and off the catwalk.
- Poet and rapper Akala, Assistant Professor of History and Africana Studies at Barnard College in New York, Dr. Abosede George and historian Ed Keazor discuss how and where black cultural memory is preserved.
- Actor Simon Frederick, Game of Thrones actress Nathalie Emmanuel and Kidulthood writer and actor Noel Clarke explore the power of black perspectives, both in front of and behind the lens, discussing how the film industry has both celebrated and denied diversity.
- A panel featuring Nigerian singer-songwriter Davido and American record producer Dallas Austin discuss if and how the music made by black artists, from Afrobeat to drill, hip-hop to grime, explores the breadth of blackness.
- In a time of an expanding palette of makeup shades and black-owned beauty brands, Radio 1 presenter Clara Amfo leads a panel discussion on beauty, from self-expression and the performance of identity, to purely the skin deep.
- Gay Times’ first black editor Lee Gray hosts a conversation with one of London’s finest DJs and dancers – Jay Jay Revlon – to explore the art of voguing: its genesis, the highs, lows and future.
- A special Africa Utopia themed Letters Live event featuring world-class performers reading remarkable letters from black history in this celebration of black contribution to society and culture.
- Africa Utopia Fashion Show showcasing designers from all over the African continent who are taking a playful look at gender and identity, while both honouring and subverting traditions of the African aesthetic, in this free event combining music, arts and dance.
- A special Africa Utopia themed comedy showcase – ‘The Laughing Leopard’ – hosted by rapper and MC Big Narstie and featuring a stellar line up of comedians.
PARTICIPATION AND WORKSHOPS
- The return of the Africa Utopia Marketplace featuring more than 30 stalls offering the latest in African-inspired fashion, accessories, books, art and homeware, filling the foyer spaces of the Royal Festival Hall.
- A live makeup tutorial, ‘Black is Beautiful’, with Mata – makeup artist to Skepta, Stormzy and IAMDDB – who offers her tips, tricks and shares her journey of putting the colour back in to mainstream beauty.
- A creative writing workshop led by writer Nina Reece who will unlock the power of black creativity.
Madani Younis, Creative Director, Southbank Centre, said: “Through music and performance, talks and debate, this vitally important festival has become a beacon of fresh ideas and discovery, pushing culture forward. We look forward to inspiring audiences with a packed weekend of events, showcasing an incredible array of artists and a wholehearted celebration of the immense influence of the African continent and its diaspora.”
Tickets for Africa Utopia are now on sale. For further information or to buy tickets please visit the website: www.southbankcentre.co.uk