Africa Utopia, 2017 [Southbank Centre]
Southbank Centre's Africa Utopia returns with a programme of performance, art, fashion and talks
- Award-winning screenwriter Amma Asante in conversation discusses her films Belle, A United Kingdom, and the power of telling Black stories on the big screen;
- salt. - a theatrical journey to the bottom of the Atlantic Ocean, as performer Selina Thompson jumps on a cargo ship and retraces the slave trade route from the UK to Ghana and Jamaica and back;
- The return of Southbank Centre’s Associate Orchestra Chineke! Orchestra, Britain's first professional orchestra comprised entirely of black and minority ethnic musicians;
- Showcasing some of the very best fashion collections by designers from across the African continent, and the diaspora, this year’s Africa Utopia Catwalk is curated by Africa Fashion Week London;
- Rebooting Africa - a chance to create and pitch an Africa-focused tech-driven business or social idea to Tom Illube, Tech entrepreneur and Powerlist’s most influential person of African and African Caribbean heritage;
- Egyptian activist and human rights researcher Mariam Kirollos, who founded Operation Anti-Sexual Harassment to combat sexual harassment in Tahrir Square, gives a keynote on activism, social change and solidarity across borders;
- Interactive singing, storytelling, and songwriting with dynamic singer-songwriter Lánre;
- Cosmic Ashoke performing afro-futuristic poetry and music with an innovative visual and auditory experience;
- What The Trees Know - an improvised, immersive performance through music and poetry, that explores human vulnerability, in which the audience and the artists are blindfolded - performed by South African poet Toni Stuart and UK poet Remi Graves.
A powerful programme of talks, debates and workshops forms the foundation of the weekend, exploring issues such as activism, social change, the future of African politics in a new age of populism, and gender equality. Participatory workshops include a Short Story Surgery, to empower the next generation of writers to create potentially prize-winning texts, and the much-loved Twerkshop, celebrating West African dance.
Africa Utopia also hosts wide-ranging free events across Southbank Centre’s site, from a Black History Walk along the Thames which explores British Civil Rights, African and Caribbean history and black heroes along the riverside, to Afrikan Yoga on Southbank Centre’s Queen Elizabeth Hall Roof Garden. The Big Sing event is an opportunity to all join in and sing, while The Africa Utopia Block Party with DJ Rita Ray, brings you everything from afrobeat to Congolese jazz, to South African electronica. Running throughout the weekend, the Africa Utopia Marketplace creates a bustling arena in the Royal Festival Hall offering the latest in African and African-inspired arts, crafts and workshops and the space under Hungerford Bridge is transformed into a bustling African inspired street food market with 14 stalls of authentic African cuisine and live music.
Previous performers, artists and speakers who have taken part in Africa Utopia include award-winning Senegalese musician and human rights activist Baaba Maal and Grammy Award-winner Angelique Kidjo, the former First Lady of Somaliland and founder of Somaliland’s first maternity hospital. Other star acts have included Edna Adan; Kenyan creative collective The Nest; South African performer Spoek Mathambo; 'godfather of Ethiopian jazz' Mulatu Astatke; the Kinshasa Symphony orchestra; and many more from across the African continent and the diaspora.
Jude Kelly, Artistic Director, Southbank Centre said: “Welcome to the 5th year of our Africa Utopia festival at Southbank Centre. Since we started the festival with Baaba Maal in 2012 each year brings an ever-more dazzling display of energy, music and dance to Southbank Centre but also looks beyond the surface at some of the most pressing issues the African continent is facing. Africa so often finds itself on the frontline of global issues and, as the world changes at a ferocious pace, we look to artists, thinkers and entrepreneurs to highlight what ideas and stories are coming out of Africa that can help us face these issues - and find solutions - together.”
FULL EVENT LISTINGS BELOW
Food Market / Pop Up Africa present: The African Food & Drink Takeover 2017
Thursday 13 July - Sunday 16 July, Thursday 5pm, Friday 12pm, Saturday 11am, Sunday 12pm, Hungerford Bridge, Free
Pop Up Africa returns with their popular street-food market. In celebration of Africa and its many cuisines, Queens Walk is transformed into a bustling street-food market with 14 stalls of authentic food from across the continent, along with pop-up live music. | More
Africa Utopia Market [Africa Utopia, 2017 [Southbank Centre]
Africa Utopia Marketplace
Saturday 15 - Sunday 16 July, Saturday & Sunday 12pm, Level 2 Foyers at Royal Festival Hall, Free
The specially curated Africa Utopia Marketplace hosts a variety pop-up boutiques and stalls offering the latest in African and African-inspired fashion, accessories, books, art, homeware and wellbeing. | More
salt. © The Other Richard
Saturday 15 and Sunday 16 July, Saturday: 2pm & 6pm (BSL interpreted), Sunday: 2pm, Blue Room, £12
Artist and performer Selina Thompson jumped on a cargo ship and retraced one of the routes of the Transatlantic Slave Triangle - from the UK to Ghana to Jamaica and back. salt. is a performance encompassing grief, ancestry, home, forgetting and colonialism. It’s about where colonial history exists in the every day and what happens inside Selina’s head every time someone asks ‘where are you from?’ Commissioned by Yorkshire Festival, Theatre Bristol and MAYK. Supported by Arts Council England, and 200 kind and generous supporters who donated towards the voyage across the Atlantic. | BOOK NOW
Africa Utopia Block Party
Saturday 15 July, 6pm, Level 2 Terrace, Free
The Africa Utopia Block Party returns to Southbank Centre’s festival terrace. With everything from Afrobeat and Congolese jazz, to South African electronica, DJ and global authority on afrobeat Rita Ray brings the very best pan-African tunes right to the riverside.
Chineke Juniors [Africa Utopia, 2017 [Southbank Centre]
Chineke! Junior Orchestra
Sunday, 16 July, 5 - 5:30pm, The Royal Festival Hall, Free
An inspirational concert by Chineke! Junior Orchestra for made up of talented young BME musicians drawn from all across the UK. | BOOK NOW
Sunday 16 July, 6.30pm (150mins), Royal Festival Hall, Various tickets ranging from £9-60
Europe's first all-Black and Minority Ethnic (BME) orchestra is back by popular demand for their third year at Africa Utopia. In this concert, they perform works by Florence Price and Sibelius under the baton of conductor Roderick Cox, and feature multi-award-winning pianist Gerard Aimontche performing Rachmaninov’s Piano Concerto No.3. | More
Sounds Under the Bridge
Saturday 15 - Sunday 16 July, 12 - 6pm Saturday and Sunday, Under Hungerford Bridge, Free
Everything from Afrofunk to hip-hop and kora can be heard at the Sounds Under the Bridge pop-up stage, whilst enjoying some delights from the Africa Utopia food market. This eclectic mix of music has been programmed by brilliant rising-star, singer songwriter, Sherika Sherard.
Saturday 15 July, 10.30am, Clore Ballroom, £5
The ever-popular Pram Jam is back influenced by African music and movement. Open to everyone of all abilities, the workshop invites children aged five and under and their carers/parents are invited to move, groove and sing along to the wonderful rhythms. | More
Sing Your Story Workshop
Saturday 15 July, 11:45am - 12:30pm, Clore Ballroom, Free
Join storyteller Lanre Njoku in this joyful collective singing, song-writing and storytelling workshop which embraces freedom of expression through the use of the voice.
African Futures: What next?
Saturday 15 July, 11.30 - 12.30pm, Weston Roof Pavilion, included in Saturday and Weekend Pass
What chance do African nations have of thriving in the new global and political landscape? What impact will Brexit and Trump have on trade, growth and foreign policy and how will the continent drive its own agenda? Leading activists, academics and experts investigate, as they predict what the future holds for the continent and its diaspora.
TRUE Africa Presents... How to Grow Your African Brand on Social Media
Saturday 15 July, 11:30 - 12:30pm, Level 3 Function Room, Royal Festival Hall, included in Saturday and Weekend Pass
This social media workshop led by Temi Otedola (78K Instagram followers), founder of fashion and lifestyle blog jtofashion.com (featured in Vogue, The Times, TRUE Africa and CNN), provides tips on standing out from the crowd, nurturing a brand, and appealing to a global audience.
Africa Utopia Reads The Papers and Opening Keynote
Sunday 16 July, 11.30am, Level 5 Function Room at Royal Festival Hall, Included in the pass
Panelists read the Sunday papers at Africa Utopia, taking a snapshot of the biggest Africa-related headlines and stories and discuss their impact.This session is followed by a keynote looking at what the future holds for the world’s most diverse and fast moving continent. | More
Our Mighty Groove social dance
Saturday 15 July, 12.30 - 2pm, Level 2 Terrace, Free, BSL interpreted
Our Mighty Groove workshop and social dance provides an immersive experience of the New York underground club scene. Led by Vicki Igbokwe, Choreographer and Founder of Uchenna Dance, the workshop and social dance is inspired by Uchenna Dance's full scale production Our Mighty Groove.
Amma Asante [Africa Utopia, 2017 [Southbank Centre]
Disrupting Expectations: A Conversation With Amma Asante
Saturday 15 July, 1pm, Weston Roof Pavilion, Included in the pass
BAFTA award-winning screenwriter and director of the films Belle and A United Kingdom, Ghanaian-British filmmaker Amma Asante speaks about pushing boundaries, capturing hidden black stories and the future of cinema. | BOOK NOW
Young, African and Breaking the Mould
Saturday 15 July, 1pm, Level 3 Function Room at Royal Festival Hall, Included in the pass
Africa has the youngest population in the world, with over 200 million people between 15 and 24-years-old. Speakers for this event include young Africans who are leading the way in everything from tech to fashion and activism. | More
East African Literary All Stars
Saturday 15 July, 2:30 - 3:30pm Weston Roof Pavilion, included in the Saturday and Weekend Pass
Stretching from the Arabian sea to the cities of Khartoum, Nairobi, Hargesya and beyond, the 'Greater Horn of Africa' is a meeting place of cultures that has produced some of the most exciting literary talents of recent times. Visitors discover the diverse styles, current trends and concerns which contribute to making this distinctive region a literary powerhouse.
Africa: Feminism and the Future
Saturday 15 July, 2.30pm, Weston Roof Pavilion, Included in the pass
This discussion is centred on the struggle women experience as political and economic leaders. How are feminists on the continent, and in the diaspora, finding solutions to this global problem? | More
Africa Utopia Big Sing
Saturday 15 July, 2.30pm, Riverside Terrace, Free
Audiences are encouraged to come together and sing songs inspired by the themes in Africa Utopia 2017 in a Big Sing for all ages and abilities. No prior singing experience necessary.| More
Saturday 15 July, 2.30 - 5pm, Level 3 Function Room, Royal Festival Hall
From a pan-African all girls science academy in Ghana, to hackathons and digital clubs, this session explores how technology is rapidly reshaping culture and society in Africa and beyond. The event also includes an interactive workshop providing the chance to create and pitch an Africa focused tech-driven business or social idea to entrepreneur Tom Illube, tech entrepreneur and Powerlist’s most influential person of African and African Caribbean heritage.
Saturday 15 July, 4pm, Level 2 Riverside Terrace, Free, BSL Interpreted
Southbank Centre is searching far and wide for fashionistas and trendsetters to help showcase Africa’s influences on contemporary London fashion. The Africa Utopia People’s Catwalk showcases how Africa influences contemporary London fashion. Fashion lovers of all ages and of course styles are welcome. Further details on how to get involved will be available in June and will be found here: | More
Africa Utopia Catwalk Curated By Africa Fashion Week London
Saturday 15 July, 5pm, Level 2 Riverside Terrace, Free
Showcasing some of the very best fashion collections by designers from across the continent and its diaspora, this year’s Africa Utopia Catwalk is curated by Africa Fashion Week London and takes place along the riverside, with the stunning backdrop of the Thames. | More
Black in the Day - Scanning Social
Saturday 15 July, 4 - 8pm, Archive Studio, Free
Black in the Day is an exciting collective focused on documenting black British life. This is a submission-based archive documenting lived experience by asking people to find and share photos. Visitors are invited to bring along photographs showing any aspect of black life to create and add to their own digital archive.
Daliso Chaponda [Africa Utopia, 2017 [Southbank Centre]
What The Trees Know
Saturday 15 July, 6 - 6:30pm; 7:30 - 8pm, St Paul’s Roof Pavilion, £10
If you sliced through your life, like a tree’s trunk, what story would the rings of your life tell? This improvised performance through music and poetry, by South African poet Toni Stuart and UK poet Remi Graves, in which the artists and the audience wear blindfolds, explores human vulnerability and the role it plays in the ability to build relationships and grow true community.
Presidents of Laughrica,
Saturday 15 July, 8:45pm, Weston Roof Pavilion, £15
Comedian Daliso Chaponda brings together this showcase by some of the best comedians of the diaspora, as they tackle the current issues facing Africa and beyond. | BOOK NOW
Pablo Imani Afrikan Yoga [Africa Utopia, 2017 [Southbank Centre]
Sunday, 16 July, 10 - 11:15am, Roof Garden, Queen Elizabeth Hall, £10
Participants practice Afrikan Yogic movements known as Raagus (dance), Hika (affirmations), visualisations, Smai breathing, Hudu (similar to Afrikan Tai Chi) and Still Postures from the Nile Valley, Ancient Africa. The session is delivered by founder of Afrikan Yoga, Pablo Imani and is open to all levels.
Africa Utopia Black History Walks
Sunday 16 July, 12 - 1.30pm, 2.30 - 4.00pm, Level 2 Foyer(s) at Royal Festival Hall, £10
Visitors are invited to see the city in a new light with an exciting, interactive tour of London’s African and Caribbean history along the riverside at the South Bank. The tour covers black heroes of World Wars I and II, British Civil Rights, inventors, Apartheid, gentrification and much more. | More
Sunday 16 July, 11 - 11:45am, 12:15 - 1pm The National Poetry Library Room for Children at Royal Festival Hall, £8 adults, £4 children
Visitors are welcome to attend a live poetry reading at the newly designed Room for Children, in The National Poetry Library. One of poetry's star performers will bring the space to life with poems and songs for children and their adult carers to listen and sing along to.
Passenger Seats with Chineke! Junior Orchestra
Sunday 16 July, 11:30am - 12pm The Clore Ballroom, Free
At a special immersive performance, visitors can experience what it feels like to sit in an orchestra. An initiative of the Chineke! Foundation, the Chineke! Junior Orchestra is a youth orchestra of black and minority-ethnic musicians, aged 11 to 18 years.
Writing Workshop: Short Story Surgery
Sunday 16 July, 12pm, Level 3 Function Room, Included in the pass
Editor, book designer and manuscript reader Vimbai Shire teaches visitors how to edit, polish and refine a potentially prize-winning short story. Shire has has worked with Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, Brian Chikwava, Jennifer Nansubuga Makumbi, Kamila Shamsie, Paul Theroux, Jonathan Tel and Binyavanga Wainaina and many others. | More
Have A Go with Chineke! Junior Orchestra
Sunday 16 July, 12.15 - 1pm The Clore Ballroom, Free
Visitors are invited to join members of the Chineke! Junior Orchestra with this fun session that provides an opportunity for children to play different orchestral string instruments under expert guidance from these young talented Chineke! Junior members.
Future4Youth Dance Workshop
Sunday 16 July, 1.30- 2.30pm, Clore Ballroom, Free
An upbeat dance workshop with Future4Youth exploring the connection between Hip-Hop Dance and Dance of the African Diaspora. Future4Youth work with youth companies from across the UK through practical workshops, performance opportunities and mentoring.
Nataal presents: African male diaspora identities
Sunday 16 July, 1:30 - 2:30pm, Level 5 Function Room, Royal Festival Hall, included in Sunday and Weekend Pass
What does it mean to be an African man in the disapora? Global media brand Nataal presents a special event and photographic body of work by photographer Mehdi Lacoste and stylist KK Obi celebrating contemporary African masculinities. Featuring performances and talks by London-based creatives including Larry B, Akinola Davies, Emmanuel Balogun, Nataalfounder Alassane Sy and others.
Bino and Fino
Bino and Fino
Sunday 16 July, 2 - 2.30pm; 3 - 3.30pm,Sunley Pavilion, Royal Festival Hall, £6 adults, £3 children
Visitors can enjoy screenings of this wonderful Nigerian cartoon series teaching children about Africa and the world. The show follows the adventures of Bino and Fino from Nigeria as each day brings something new for them to learn. | More
Afro Play. Colour Vs Place
Sunday 16 July, 2:30 - 3:30pm, Level 2 Terrace, Free
Afro Play explores identity in African culture through the theme of ‘Colour vs Place’. This exciting performance features dance artist’s exploration of their journey to discover their identity. The project is lead by One Dance UK Trailblazer Champion 2017, Ithalia Forel.
Activism and Social Change
Sunday 16 July, 3 - 4pm, Level 5 Function Room, Royal Festival Hall, included in the Sunday and Weekend Pass
How are activists on the African continent and in the diaspora working across borders to make real change happen? What lessons can we learn from each other and how do we turn local action into global solidarity? Visitors are invited to find out the answers to these questions and more in this talk.
Africa Utopia Textile Printing Workshop
Saturday 15 and Sunday 16 July, Saturday: 1 - 5pm, Sunday: 3 - 5pm, The Clore Ballroom, Free
Participants are invited to get creative and play with African textiles and printing at this free session, which offers the chance to create a unique printed creation.
Women, Drumbeats and Self Care: A Twerkshop
Women, Drumbeats and Self Care: A Twerkshop
Sunday 16 July, 3pm, Level 3 Function Room at Royal Festival Hall. Included in the pass
Participants are invited to join Kelechnekoff Fitness founder, Kelechi Okafor, and explore West African dance as release and self care through this combined twerkshop and discussion. All dance levels and genders welcome. | More
Sunday Session, Festival Makers takeover
Sunday 16 July, 4 - 5pm, Festival Terrace
Programmed by Southbank Centre’s Festival Makers, this hour of live music will be exclusively billed by the young team who have taken over the programming reigns after an intensive course working with the music and programming team for Africa Utopia.
Bloco & Beatlife Perform
Sunday 16 July, 5.30 - 6.15pm, Level 2 Terrace, Free
Kinetika Bloco and BeatLife collaborate to create an African inspired celebration performance fusing rhythms and genres from the African Diaspora.
Cosmic Ashoke: An Evening of Afrofuturism
Sunday 16 July, 6.45 - 8.15pm, St Paul’s Roof Pavilion, £12
Sound and visuals collide in an Afro-futuristic multi-artform experience. Travelling from an unknown past to unseen futures, Cosmic Ashoke explores Afro-futuristic poetry and music through unique visual and auditory experiences.
Violet Nights: Afro Queer
Sunday 16 July, 7 - 9pm, Violet Room, Free ticketed
When race and queerness intersect; Violet Nights is a space for young people to safely experiment, socialise and explore with music, performance and discussion.
Africa Utopia Weekend Pass
Saturday 15 - Sunday 16 July, 11.30am, Various Spaces, £25
The two-day pass gives access to talks, debates and workshops covering everything from art and activism, politics and gender equality, to fashion and tech, for the entire Africa Utopia weekend.
Throughout the weekend, leading African artists, thinkers and innovators talk art and ideas that are changing the world and challenging stereotypes. | More
Africa Utopia Saturday Day Pass
Saturday 15 July, 11.30am, Various Spaces, £15
How is Africa leading the way in thinking about activism, the arts, fashion and tech? The day pass includes talks from leading activists, artists and thinkers on how they are affecting social change across the continent and the diaspora.
Speakers include BAFTA winning screenwriter and director of Belle and A United Kingdom Amma Asante; Tom Ilube, tech entrepreneur and Powerlist’s most influential person of African and African Caribbean heritage; and Egypitan activist Mariam Kirollos, who founded Operation Anti-Sexual Harassment to combat sexual harassment in Tahrir Square | More
Africa Utopia Sunday Day Pass
Sunday 16 July, 11:30am, Various Spaces, £15
An exploration of art and ideas from across Africa and the diaspora through talks, debates and workshops. Sunday’s talks start with the Africa Utopia newspaper review for a snapshot of the biggest Africa-related headlines and stories. | More