London. The Southbank Centre has brought together creative minds from Africa and the African diaspora to audience in the UK for its exciting festival, ‘Africa Utopia’, running from 9th of August through 4th of September. Launched in 2012, it returned this year with a diverse range of activities to partake in: fashion courses, stimulating debates, and opportunities to meet and chat with leading artists in the industry and entertainment from innovative musicians and dancers across continent with a mixture of free and ticketed events.
Fashionistas. Hannah Azieb Pool, lead curator for Africa Utopia, opened the festival, with a bespoke fashion journalism course taught by leading fashion journalists in the industry, presenting the ‘whole package’ required to take that bold step into the world of fashion journalism. On the course, not only valuable writing skills are gained, but there is also the opportunity to engage in practical work behind the scenes and on the street, reporting on the Africa Utopia fashion event. By the end of the course, your hard work culminates into a magazine feature; a valuable asset for your portfolio.
Lit Lovers. Two of Africa’s acclaimed novelists will be appearing. Caine Prize and Scottish Book Award winner and three-time Orange Prize longlisted Sudanese author, Leila Aboulela, will be discussing her new novel, The Kindness of Enemies. Set during a time of European expansion in the 19th century and the 21st century, her story weaves the personal with political, to explore themes of love, betrayal, reconciliation and war, and reconsiders assumptions on religion.
Nigeria’s Chibundu Onuzo will be there too. Onuzo’s novel The Spider Kings Daughter, a young adult novel set in Nigeria, uses individual’s fate and love to illuminate and critique class structure in Nigeria. It was nominated for prestigious awards including the Commonwealth Book Prize 2012 and the Dylan Thomas and the Desmond Elliot prize.
Opera Oye!: The Mandela Trilogy, an epic three act folk opera, recounts the life of the young Nelson Mandela from his tribal initiation rites at Mbashe River (1934) to his imprisonment and reflection on his days at Robben Island and his eventual freedom and liberation (1990). As well as a crucial aspect of South African history—Apartheid— woven into the narration the play uses a mix of upbeat jazz, opera and Xhosa to give the audience a feel of South African culture.
Gender Dynamics: Bringing to London her perspective on gender dynamics from Nigeria is Forbes recognised producer, broadcaster and CEO of Ignite media, Funmi Iyanda. She has interviewed politicians, writers, entrepreneurs and political activists including Bisi Alimi, a gay rights activist, whose foundation considers issues of homophobia, HIV, gender in Nigeria and beyond.
Interactive activities include dance workshops with Afro Dance Xplosion and Afrikan yoga classes led by Lenea Hebrew and the founder of Afrikan Yoga Pablo Imani; there is the unmissable Africa Utopia club night featuring Rita Ray and DJ Set.
The innovative Swedish-Sudanese musician Asya Satti will also be present. Known for her innovative use of Arabic and blues melodies against strong African rhythm, she is going to be performing some of her experimental and uplifting pieces.
Food and refreshments will be on display, presenting varieties of delicacies from the continent in The African Food and Drink Takeover 2016, and African Utopia cook, a live cookery shows that seeks to teach the audience how Africa’s great dishes are prepared.
For more information on date and time for events, and a break down of free and paid events, please visit Southbank Centre’s website, where tickets are also bookable.