Africa Utopia 2016

For it’s third exciting year, the Africa Utopia celebrated the arts and culture of one of the world’s most dynamic and fast-changing continent, Africa.

The event, which took place at the South Bank Centre in London from the 26th of August to the 4th of September,  It delved into how Africa and it’s inhabitants, can lead the way in thinking about culture, community, business and technology while discussing topics ranging from fashion, gender and power to politics, sustainability and activism.

Africa Utopia's host Baaba Maal.
Africa Utopia’s host Baaba Maal.

Championed by Africa Utopia artistic collaborator, Senegalese singer and human rights advocate Baaba Maal, the Africa Utopia festival featured some of Africa’s greatest artists across music, activists, entrepreneurs, dance, literature and the arts, as well as a programme of talks, panel debates and workshops which tackled issues such as faith and spirituality in the African identity, African masculinity, the challenging of patriarchy as well as afro-hair workshops and a discussion with Maame Adjei, lead actress of the hit Ghanaian web series An African City – dubbed the African Sex And the City.

Chinecke! Orchestra
Chinecke! Orchestra

Highlights included the return of Chineke! Orchestra, Britain’s first professional orchestra made up entirely of black and minority ethnic musicians, Mandela Trilogy, an epic operatic tribute to Nelson Mandela and went on to explore social power dynamics in a play by Adura Onashile, while featuring the kaleidoscopic sounds of Asya Satti’s blues and soul.

British-Eritrean writer and Senior Lead Programmer this year Hannah Pool. Photo courtesy of Africa Utopia the Southbank Centre
British-Eritrean writer and Senior Lead Programmer this year Hannah Pool. Image courtesy of Africa Utopia the Southbank Centre

« To me, a successful festival is one that takes over the whole side, so the whole Southbank Center becomes fizzing and popping and alive with all things beautifully and fabulously African. Within that you have a richness and depth of conversation, and thinking and analysis, coming both from the speakers that we’ve been able to bring from across the continent and the diaspora, and the audience interacting with each other and changing some people’s perceptions of what constitutes contemporary Africa. » Hannah Pool, lead programmer for Africa Utopia

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