It’s Africa Utopia Time Again at The Southbank Centre

Africa Utopia Festival : Image credit: Alice Boagey
Africa Utopia Festival : Image credit: Alice Boagey

Preview by Mbeke Waseme

During September 13th-15th 2019, the Africa Utopia Festival is where an explosion of African films, literature, music, fashion and cultural debates take place at the Southbank Centre in London

Black Sheep is the Oscar-nominated documentary which begins with the murder of Damilola Taylor.  Cornelius Walker lived in the same area and after the murder, his mother chose to leave London to live in a predominantly white area.  The documentary will be followed by a Q&A session when the full repercussions of the move will be explored.

A Nigerian theme dominates the latter part of the evening with a concert by the Kuti family and a performance by Chibundo Onuzu. Be ready to enjoy the energy and rhythms of both.

The market place of African and African inspired goods is held across Saturday and Sunday. Do support the traders who work hard to bring a wide range of quality goods. The installation Black in the Day will be available and is a portrayal of Black British life.

Saturday opens with the amazing performance of Kinetika Bloco, the South London performance group, ready to take us on a cultural musical journey that includes grime, garage, afrobeat and jazz.

The talks feature a range of international high profile speakers like Akala, discussing how black cultural history is preserved with historian Ed Keazor and Associate Professor of History and Africana Studies Dr. Abosede George. Derek Owusu invites us to listen and learn about the experience of Black British Men: On Black British Men Reclaiming Space with performances from his anthology, SAFE.  There will be a live reading of Letters from African History as we celebrate the power of literary correspondence. You will have the pleasure of hearing letters from Black History and the contribution to black culture and society.

The business of black beauty is addressed through a close-up discussion on beauty exploring self-expression and the performance of identity with author Candice Carty-Williams, singer-songwriter Nao and music artist Ray BLK. A live makeup tutorial Black is Beautiful will take place with Mata.

The last day opens and closes with discussions on African Identity and the Diaspora identity. The final event is interspersed with poetry readings and stripped-down music sets with KWAYE and Anaïs.  On Sunday, the talks provide a space for the audience to reflect on the Black Film Renaissance and the music scene. The length and breadth of blackness are considered through cultural representation, ownership and influence.

The last day ends with a comedy show that features, Naija FM’s Comedian of the Year Award Winner, Kenny Blaq, and CEO of The Colour Network, Kojo Anim as well as Babatunde Aléshé, Dane Baptiste and Eddie Kadi and a classical concert with the Chineke! Chamber Ensemble.

Whatever you decide to attend, there is a wide range of amazing offers at this year’s Africa Utopia Festival with lots of choice and an opportunity to acquire new information and share experience meeting other amazing people.

Africa Utopia Festival runs at Southbank Centre from 13-15 September and is co-curated by Indaba X.

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