Following the success of the sensational first event in 2012, Africa Utopia returns to Southbank Centre’s main-stages to take a look at what can be learned and celebrated from Africa and the African Diaspora. Africa Utopia is a celebration of African culture, community, art and fashion. Taking place from September 11 – 14, the festival is a four-day celebration of the rich variety of African culture, spanning North to South. Beyond just a family festival, Africa Utopia has a vast range of events, which focus on how Africa can lead the way in thinking about culture, community, technology, fashion, sustainability and ethical wealth creation.
Festival-goers can expect to see a stunning array of panels, talks and workshops, looking at how business, trade and education is shaping the continent and how Africa can help solve the world’s problems. Inviting leading commentators, Africa Utopia will feature talks from guests such as Edna Adan Ismail and the former Somaliland Foreign Minister who set up the first maternity and teaching hospital in Somaliand and Dr. Ola Orekunrin who set up the Nigerian Flying doctors.
Topics under discussion on the first day of the Africa Utopia weekend include the African technology revolution, women and agribusiness, the
African finance revolution, entrepreneurship and leadership, disruptive innovation, education, why China loves Africa, sustainable Africa, how to do business in Africa and what really happens when diaspora go back?
Day two focuses on African arts and topics under discussion include; the rise and rise of African literature, contemporary African art and the global market, Nollywood and beyond, women and peace building and FGM.
The third day will feature interesting and equally important debates including; design and the new African aesthetic, architecture and rethinking Africa’s urban spaces, Africa and the Caribbean, re-imagining Africa, Africa in the contemporary arts, African mixed-race identities, diaspora philanthropy and the power of music and performance to create social change.
For music lovers, there are several exclusive performances from the continent’s finest musicians. The line-up includes a one-off gig from Mulatu Astatke, who is recognised as the father of Ethio-Jazz, taking place at the Royal Festival Hall. Laughter comes courtesy of London born, NYC based comedian Gina Yashere who plays a special date in the Capital for Africa Utopia.
Continually sourcing the greatest performers of African origin, the festival also features a world premiere of dance solo work by Qudus Onikeku, with spoken word by Zena Edwards. For classical music devotees, the festival offers a unique opportunity to see L’Orchestre Symphonique Kimbanguiste (OSK) and choir in London as part of their UK tour
The Southbank Centre will also host visual artists for the duration of the festival. New work by contemporary artists and designers will be presented across the site, including video, wall works, photography, performance art, and design collaborations including life size craft paper figures by Mary Evans and textile and sound installation by Yemi Awosile.
Those who are interested in break-dancing culture will delight in attending Say it Through Breakdance. A British Council initiative aimed at transcending the breakdancing art-form beyond the battle spirit., project is artistically driven by Hakeem Onibudo of Impact Dance, who has been working with 10 B-Boys from North Africa, namely Morocco, Tunisia, Libya and Tunisia who will perform in London for the first time at Africa Utopia. There will also be workshops where anyone can also learn to breakdance. Other join-in moments include Afrikan Yoga, storytelling for children and a ‘Big Sing’
Africa Utopia promises to be a fun-filled festival, highlighting the many ways that the continent can lead discussions and influence culture and community encouraging a new wave of appreciation for African art, music and literature. For those looking to explore the exoticism of this vibrant continent, Africa Utopia is the perfect event to experience first-hand, the rich variety of Africa’s customs and traditions.
Jude Kelly, Artistic Director, Southbank Centre, said; “Africa Utopia highlights the many ways that the continent could lead the way in thinking about culture, community, sustainability and ethical wealth creation. The festival uses all forms of art and culture to showcase the great voices of Africa and their contribution to the world. We are proud to announce our programme of inspiring speakers who will be considering and debating what can be learnt from a continent which has given a boundless contribution to the world around us.”
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Festival highlights include:
– A one off gig from Mulatu Astatke – the father of Ethio-jazz – at the Royal Festival Hall.
– World premiere of dance solo work by Qudus Onikeku, with spoken word by Zena Edwards – My Exile is in My Head.
– An insight into North Africa break dancing culture – banned during the Ben Ali regime in Tunisia – from Say it through Breakdance, a project artistically driven by Hakeem Onibudo of Impact Dance.
– Talks by:
- Edna Adan Ismail, former Somaliland Foreign Minister who set up the first maternity and teaching hospital in Somaliland.
- Dr. Ola Orekunrin who founded the first ever Nigerian Flying Doctors after a personal tragedy inspired her.
- Mariemme Janne, technologist and founder of Africa Gathering.
- Nimco Ali, anti-FGM campaigner.
- Multi-award winning USA based comedian Gina Yashere returns to her hometown with her new show.
– A fashion show of designers who originate or are inspired by the rich cultural heritage of Africa, presented in collaboration with Creative Director Ola Shobowale.
– Africa 39 – of Hay Festival – celebrating 39 of the best African (south-of-the-Sahara) writers under the age of 40.
– New work by contemporary artists and designers will be presented across the site, including video, wall works, photography, performance art, and design collaborations including life size craft paper figures by Mary Evans and textile and sound installation by Yemi Awosile.
– The L’Orchestre Symphonique Kimbanguiste – an orchestra and choir from the Demographic Republic of Congo – visit London for the first time, the group is Central Africa’s only symphony orchestra.