Africa Utopia Returns to the Southbank 15-16 July 2017

Africa Utopia returns to Southbank Centre for its fifth year, from 15-16 July 2017, with a line up of some of the most exciting musicians, artists, performers and thinkers from across Africa and its diaspora. This vibrant weekend explores Africa’s lead in shaping the way we think about culture, gender, race, sexuality, fashion, activism and society.

A powerful programme of talks, debates and workshops forms the foundation of the weekend, exploring issues such as activism, social change, the future of African politics in a new age of populism, and gender equality. Participatory workshops include a Short Story Surgery, to empower the next generation of writers to create potentially prize-winning texts, and the much-loved Twerkshop, celebrating West African dance.

Highlights include:

  • Award-winning screenwriter Amma Asante in conversation discusses her films Belle, A United Kingdom, and the power of telling Black stories on the big screen;
  • salt. – a theatrical journey to the bottom of the Atlantic Ocean, as performer Selina Thompson jumps on a cargo ship and retraces the slave trade route from the UK to Ghana and Jamaica and back;
  • The return of Southbank Centre’s Associate Orchestra Chineke! Orchestra, Britain’s first professional orchestra comprised entirely of black and minority ethnic musicians;
  • Showcasing some of the very best fashion collections by designers from across the African continent, and the diaspora, this year’s Africa Utopia Catwalk is curated by Africa Fashion Week London;
  • Rebooting Africa – a chance to create and pitch an Africa-focused tech-driven business or social idea to Tom Illube, Tech entrepreneur and Powerlist’s most influential person of African and African Caribbean heritage;
  • Egyptian activist and human rights researcher Mariam Kirollos, who founded Operation Anti-Sexual Harassment to combat sexual harassment in Tahrir Square, gives a keynote on activism, social change and solidarity across borders;
  • Interactive singing, storytelling, and songwriting with dynamic singer-songwriter Lánre;
  • Cosmic Ashoke performing afro-futuristic poetry and music with an innovative visual and auditory experience;
  • What The Trees Know – an improvised, immersive performance through music and poetry, that explores human vulnerability, in which the audience and the artists are blindfolded – performed by South African poet Toni Stuart and UK poet Remi Graves.

Africa Utopia also hosts wide-ranging free events across Southbank Centre’s site, from a Black History Walk along the Thames which explores British Civil Rights, African and Caribbean history and black heroes along the riverside, to Afrikan Yoga on Southbank Centre’s Queen Elizabeth Hall Roof Garden. The Big Sing event is an opportunity to all join in and sing, while The Africa Utopia Block Party with DJ Rita Ray, brings you everything from afrobeat to Congolese jazz, to South African electronica. Running throughout the weekend, the Africa Utopia Marketplace creates a bustling arena in the Royal Festival Hall offering the latest in African and African-inspired arts, crafts and workshops and the space under Hungerford Bridge is transformed into a bustling African inspired street food market with 14 stalls of authentic African cuisine and live music.

Previous performers, artists and speakers who have taken part in Africa Utopia include award-winning Senegalese musician and human rights activist Baaba Maal and Grammy Award-winner Angelique Kidjo, the former First Lady of Somaliland and founder of Somaliland’s first maternity hospital. Other star acts have included Edna Adan; Kenyan creative collective The Nest; South African performer Spoek Mathambo; ‘godfather of Ethiopian jazz’ Mulatu Astatke; the Kinshasa Symphony orchestra; and many more from across the African continent and the diaspora.

Jude Kelly, Artistic Director, Southbank Centre said: “Welcome to the 5th year of our Africa Utopia festival at Southbank Centre. Since we started the festival with Baaba Maal in 2012 each year brings an ever-more dazzling display of energy, music and dance to Southbank Centre but also looks beyond the surface at some of the most pressing issues the African continent is facing. Africa so often finds itself on the frontline of global issues and, as the world changes at a ferocious pace, we look to artists, thinkers and entrepreneurs to highlight what ideas and stories are coming out of Africa that can help us face these issues – and find solutions – together.”


Ticket details:

  • Africa Utopia Weekend Pass – Saturday 15 – Sunday 16 July, 11.30am, Various Spaces, £25. Find out more and book here.
  • Africa Utopia Saturday Day Pass – Saturday 15 July, 11.30am, Various Spaces, £15. Find out more and book here.
  • Africa Utopia Sunday Day Pass – Sunday 16 July, 11:30am, Various Spaces, £15. Find out more and book here.

Full Listings:

  • Food Market / Pop Up Africa present: The African Food & Drink Takeover 2017 – Thursday 13 July – Sunday 16 July, Thursday 5pm, Friday 12pm, Saturday 11am, Sunday 12pm, Hungerford Bridge, Free
  • Africa Utopia Marketplace – Saturday 15 – Sunday 16 July, Saturday & Sunday 12pm, Level 2 Foyers at Royal Festival Hall, Free
  • salt. – Saturday 15 and Sunday 16 July, Saturday: 2pm & 6pm (BSL interpreted), Sunday: 2pm, Blue Room, £12
  • Africa Utopia Block Party – Saturday 15 July, 6pm, Level 2 Terrace, Free
  • Chineke! Junior Orchestra – Sunday, 16 July, 5 – 5:30pm, The Royal Festival Hall, Free
  • Chineke! Orchestra – Sunday 16 July, 6.30pm (150mins), Royal Festival Hall, Various tickets ranging from £9-60
  • Sounds Under the Bridge – Saturday 15 – Sunday 16 July, 12 – 6pm Saturday and Sunday, Under Hungerford Bridge, Free
  • Pram Jam – Saturday 15 July, 10.30am, Clore Ballroom, £5
  • Sing Your Story Workshop  – Saturday 15 July, 11:45am – 12:30pm, Clore Ballroom, Free
  • African Futures: What next? – Saturday 15 July, 11.30 – 12.30pm, Weston Roof Pavilion, included in Saturday and Weekend Pass.
  • TRUE Africa Presents… How to Grow Your African Brand on Social Media – Saturday 15 July, 11:30 – 12:30pm, Level 3 Function Room, Royal Festival Hall, included in Saturday and Weekend Pass
  • Africa Utopia Reads The Papers and Opening Keynote – Sunday 16 July, 11.30am, Level 5 Function Room at Royal Festival Hall, Included in the pass
  • Our Mighty Groove social dance  – Saturday 15 July, 12.30 – 2pm, Level 2 Terrace, Free, BSL interpreted
  • Disrupting Expectations: A Conversation With Amma Asante – Saturday 15 July, 1pm, Weston Roof Pavilion, Included in the pass
  • Young, African and Breaking the Mould – Saturday 15 July, 1pm, Level 3 Function Room at Royal Festival Hall, Included in the pass
  • East African Literary All Stars – Saturday 15 July, 2:30 – 3:30pm Weston Roof Pavilion, included in the Saturday and Weekend Pass
  • Africa: Feminism and the Future – Saturday 15 July, 2.30pm, Weston Roof Pavilion, Included in the pass
  • Africa Utopia Big Sing – Saturday 15 July, 2.30pm, Riverside Terrace, Free
  • Rebooting Africa – Saturday 15 July, 2.30 – 5pm, Level 3 Function Room, Royal Festival Hall
  • People’s Catwalk – Saturday 15 July, 4pm, Level 2 Riverside Terrace, Free, BSL Interpreted
  • Africa Utopia Catwalk Curated By Africa Fashion Week London – Saturday 15 July, 5pm, Level 2 Riverside Terrace, Free
  • Black in the Day – Scanning Social – Saturday 15 July, 4 – 8pm, Archive Studio, Free
  • What The Trees Know – Saturday 15 July, 6 – 6:30pm; 7:30 – 8pm, St Paul’s Roof Pavilion, £10
  • Presidents of Laughrica – Saturday 15 July, 8:45pm, Weston Roof Pavilion, £15
  • Afrikan Yoga – Sunday, 16 July, 10 – 11:15am, Roof Garden, Queen Elizabeth Hall, £10
  • Africa Utopia Black History Walks – Sunday 16 July, 12 – 1.30pm, 2.30 – 4.00pm, Level 2 Foyer(s) at Royal Festival Hall, £10
  • Poetry Utopia – Sunday 16 July, 11 – 11:45am, 12:15 – 1pm The National Poetry Library Room for Children at Royal Festival Hall, £8 adults, £4 children
  • Passenger Seats with Chineke! Junior Orchestra – Sunday 16 July, 11:30am – 12pm The Clore Ballroom, Free
  • Writing Workshop: Short Story Surgery – Sunday 16 July, 12pm, Level 3 Function Room, Included in the pass
  • Have A Go with Chineke! Junior Orchestra – Sunday 16 July, 12.15 – 1pm The Clore Ballroom, Free
  • Future4Youth Dance Workshop – Sunday 16 July, 1.30- 2.30pm, Clore Ballroom, Free
  • Nataal presents: African male diaspora identities – Sunday 16 July, 1:30 – 2:30pm, Level 5 Function Room, Royal Festival Hall, included in Sunday and Weekend Pass
  • Bino and Fino – Sunday 16 July, 2 – 2.30pm; 3 – 3.30pm,Sunley Pavilion, Royal Festival Hall, £6 adults, £3 children
  • Afro Play. Colour Vs Place – Sunday 16 July, 2:30 – 3:30pm, Level 2 Terrace, Free
  • Activism and Social Change – Sunday 16 July, 3 – 4pm, Level 5 Function Room, Royal Festival Hall, included in the Sunday and Weekend Pass
  • Africa Utopia Textile Printing Workshop – Saturday 15 and Sunday 16 July, Saturday: 1 – 5pm, Sunday: 3 – 5pm, The Clore Ballroom, Free
  • Women, Drumbeats and Self Care: A Twerkshop – Sunday 16 July, 3pm, Level 3 Function Room at Royal Festival Hall. Included in the pass
  • Sunday Session, Festival Makers takeover – Sunday 16 July, 4 – 5pm, Festival Terrace
  • Bloco & Beatlife Perform – Sunday 16 July, 5.30 – 6.15pm, Level 2 Terrace, Free
  • Cosmic Ashoke: An Evening of Afrofuturism – Sunday 16 July, 6.45 – 8.15pm, St Paul’s Roof Pavilion, £12
  • Violet Nights: Afro Queer – Sunday 16 July, 7 – 9pm, Violet Room, Free ticketed

Find out more and book tickets here.



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