An annual festival celebrating African culture and its people returns this September with an impressive lineup across music, arts and dance.
Southbank Centre’s Africa Utopia festival returns on September 13-15 for its seventh year to celebrate and explore Africa and its diaspora’s influence.
The festival focuses on the way we think about art, culture, gender, race, sexuality, fashion, activism and society.
There are some big names on the bill such as Akala, Clara Amfo, Dallas Austin, Big Narstie, Ozwald Boateng, Chineke! Orchestra, Noel Clarke and Femi Kuti.
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.
This performance is the opener for an evening of live music and dance to celebrate the legacy of pioneer of the Afrobeat music genre, Fela Kuti.
A chamber ensemble from Chineke! Orchestra, Southbank Centre Associate Orchestra and Europe’s only professional majority-BME orchestra, return to Africa Utopia for another year with vibrant music.
In a free event, Chineke! Junior Orchestra invites audiences to sit amongst the players and hear music performed up close.
There will be plenty of talks and panels such as poet and rapper Akala, alongside assistant professor of History and Africana Studies at Barnard College in New York, Dr. Abosede George and historian Ed Keazor
discussing 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.
Another 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.
The Africa Utopia Fashion Show is one of the highlights of the weekend 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.
There will also be a special Africa Utopia themed comedy showcase – The Laughing Leopard – hosted by rapper and MC Big Narstie and featuring a stellar lineup of comedians.
Madani Younis, Creative Director, Southbank Centre said, “We’re excited to present our seventh Africa Utopia festival and to be collaborating with co-curators Indaba X for the first time.
“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.”
On top of all that there will be workshops and tutorials ranging from creative writing to makeup lessons, adding up to create an authentic experience of the African continent.