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Africa Utopia festival returns to Southbank Centre for a sixth year

Africa Utopia festival returns to Southbank Centre for a sixth year showcasing leading artists, performers, writers and thinkers from Africa and its diaspora

Southbank Centre today announces the programme for Africa Utopia 2018, featuring four days of music, comedy, film, theatre, dance, literature, fashion, workshops, market stalls, talks, debates and free activity celebrating Africa and its diaspora across its 17-acre site (19-22 July).

Showcasing an exciting line-up of musicians, writers, comedians, filmmakers, performers and artists from the African continent and its diaspora, this annual festival, now in in its sixth year, celebrates and explores Africa’s influence in shaping the way we think about art, culture, gender, race, sexuality, fashion, activism and society.

As discussion over Europe’s future is ongoing, and national borders continue to be negotiated, this year’s talks and debates programme focuses on the “Pan-African” ideological movement, its history and future, and whether a United States of Africa is likely to ever be a reality.

Festival Highlights include:

– Multi-award-winning Malian Afropop duo Amadou & Mariam returning to the Royal Festival Hall with their eighth international album, La Confusion (21 July);

Chineke! Orchestra, Southbank Centre Associate Orchestra and Europe’s only professional majority-BME orchestra, and conductor Wayne Marshall performing the world premiere of a new piece by Julian Joseph in a jazz-infused concert, joined by pianist Stewart Goodyear who makes his Queen Elizabeth Hall debut (21 July);

UK Premiere screening of Hello, Rain, based on Nnedi Okorafor’s critically-acclaimed short story Hello, Moto and followed by an exclusive live Q+A with its award-winning Nigerian director C.J. Obasi (20 July);

Award-winning playwright, poet and writer of The Barbershop Chronicles Inua EllamsR.A.P Party – an evening of poetry, spoken-word and music from ten Pan-African poets including Victoria Adukwei Bulley, JJ Bola, Salma El-Wardany, Kayo Chingonyi, Sumia Jaama, Joshua Idehen, Wana Udobang, Alim Kamara, Theresa Lola and Inua Ellams, alongside hip-hop and Afrobeat tunes from DJ Sid Mercutio (19 July);

ITV Britain’s Got Talent finalist and BBC Radio 4 comedian Daliso Chaponda returning to Africa Utopia with his Presidents of Laughrica comedy showcase, hosted by MC Annette Fagon and featuring Dane Baptiste, the first black British act to be nominated for a Fosters Award at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival (21 July);

Two performances of Apphia Campbell’s ‘Scotsman Fringe First Award’-winning one-woman show WOKE which follows the lives of two women, 42 years apart, who become involved in the struggle for civil rights (20 – 21 July);

A performance of Ahilan Ratnamohan and Star Boy Collective’s bold and interactive play Reverse Colonialism which follows the journey of four Africans living in Belgium who attempt to build a new utopian nation for African-Europeans and European-Africans, inviting debate and audience participation (22 July);

A packed programme of talks and debates exploring the theme of “Pan-Africanism” featuring leading writers, artists and thinkers including Kehinde Andrews, Juan Tomás Ávila Laurel, Belinda Otas and Ama Josephine Budge (21 – 22 July);

A variety of literature events including live readings from the newly published collection She Called Me Woman: Nigeria’s Queer Women Speak, a discussion with leading Pan-African literary stars of today including Michael Donkor and chaired by Mostly Lit podcast’s Derek Owusu and a panel “For the love of…Jollof” featuring leading African cookery writers and chefs including Yemisi Aribisala (21 – 22 July);

Friday Tonic with Congolese band Kasai Masai bringing their blend of African rural and urban music and lyrics to Southbank Centre in a free outdoor gig (20 July);

A broad range of music, literature and dance workshops offering tips on everything from learning Swahili and Pidgin through song to writing Afrofuturistic science fiction  (21 – 22 July);

A wealth of free activity across the site including pop-up performances, craft workshops from AFRORETRO, the Afro Dance Championships for ages 11+ presented by HomeBros, the return of the People’s Catwalk followed by the Professional Catwalk, Chineke! Junior Orchestra performing on the Queen Elizabeth Hall stage for the first time, a digital archive exhibition from Black in the Day collective and an outdoor Block Party on the Festival Terrace led by South African DJ Busty Beatz (21 – 22 July);

The return of the Africa Utopia Marketplace featuring more than 30 stalls offering the latest in African-inspired fashion, accessories, books, art and homeware (21 – 22 July).

Debo Amon, Programmer for Africa Utopia 2018 said, “We are excited to present our sixth Africa Utopia festival which offers our most audacious programme to date. With the fracturing of international alliances, the rise of nationalism and the entrenchment of borders, global narratives are shifting and we wonder: does a new Pan-African movement have anything to offer as an alternative model? Through music and performance, literature and debate, we bring together an array of amazing artists, writers and activists from the continent and its diaspora to explore this idea and others, celebrate Africa’s rich cultural contribution to the world, and consider how we can work together to help shape a better future.”

Tickets for Chineke! Orchestra and Amadou & Mariam are already on sale with remaining tickets going on sale to Southbank Centre members on Tuesday 15 May and to the general public on Wednesday 16 May. Link to full event listings HERE.

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