London’s Southbank Centre’s AFRICA UTOPIA returns for 5th year



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.

Highlights include:

  • Afrobeat superstar Fuse ODG performing hits in the Royal Festival Hall that have propelled him to multi-platinum status;

  • 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.

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.


Ticket details:

Africa Utopia Weekend Pass

Saturday 15 – Sunday 16 July, 11.30am, Various Spaces, £25

The two-day pass gives access to talks, debates and workshops covering everything from art and activism, politics and gender equality, to fashion and tech, for the entire Africa Utopia weekend.

Throughout the weekend, leading African artists, thinkers and innovators talk art and ideas that are changing the world and challenging stereotypes.


Africa Utopia Saturday Day Pass

Saturday 15 July, 11.30am, Various Spaces, £15

How is Africa leading the way in thinking about activism, the arts, fashion and tech? The day pass includes talks from leading activists, artists and thinkers on how they are affecting social change across the continent and the diaspora.

Speakers include BAFTA winning screenwriter and director of Belle and A United Kingdom Amma Asante; Tom Ilube, tech entrepreneur and Powerlist’s most influential person of African and African Caribbean heritage; and Egypitan activist Mariam Kirollos, who founded Operation Anti-Sexual Harassment to combat sexual harassment in Tahrir Square


Africa Utopia Sunday Day Pass

Sunday 16 July, 11:30am, Various Spaces, £15

An exploration of art and ideas from across Africa and the diaspora through talks, debates and workshops. Sunday’s talks start with the Africa Utopia newspaper review for a snapshot of the biggest Africa-related headlines and stories.


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

Pop Up Africa returns with their popular street-food market. In celebration of Africa and its many cuisines, Queens Walk is transformed into a bustling street-food market with 14 stalls of authentic food from across the continent, along with pop-up live music.


Africa Utopia Marketplace

Saturday 15 – Sunday 16 July, Saturday & Sunday 12pm, Level 2 Foyers at Royal Festival Hall, Free

The specially curated  Africa Utopia Marketplace hosts a variety pop-up boutiques and stalls offering the latest in African and African-inspired fashion, accessories, books, art, homeware and wellbeing.


Fuse ODG

Saturday 15 July, 8.00pm (150mins), Royal Festival Hall, £20-25

Afrobeat multi-platinum superstar and ‘Azonto’ king – British-Ghanaian rapper, Fuse ODG headlines the Africa Utopia festival performing in the Royal Festival Hall.



Saturday 15 and Sunday 16 July, Saturday: 2pm & 6pm (BSL interpreted), Sunday: 2pm, Blue Room, £12

Artist and performer Selina Thompson jumped on a cargo ship and retraced one of the routes of the Transatlantic Slave Triangle – from the UK to Ghana to Jamaica and back.  salt. is a performance encompassing grief, ancestry, home, forgetting and colonialism. It’s about where colonial history exists in the every day and what happens inside Selina’s head every time someone asks ‘where are you from?’ Commissioned by Yorkshire Festival, Theatre Bristol and MAYK. Supported by Arts Council England, and 200 kind and generous supporters who donated towards the voyage across the Atlantic.


Africa Utopia Block Party

Saturday 15 July, 6pm, Level 2 Terrace, Free

The Africa Utopia Block Party returns to Southbank Centre’s festival terrace. With everything from Afrobeat and Congolese jazz, to South African electronica, DJ and global authority on afrobeat Rita Ray brings the very best pan-African tunes right to the riverside.


Chineke! Junior Orchestra

Sunday, 16 July, 5 – 5:30pm, The Royal Festival Hall, Free

An inspirational concert by Chineke! Junior Orchestra for made up of talented young BME musicians drawn from all across the UK.


Chineke! Orchestra

Sunday 16 July, 6.30pm (150mins), Royal Festival Hall, Various tickets ranging from £9-60

Europe’s first all-Black and Minority Ethnic (BME) orchestra is back by popular demand for their third year at Africa Utopia. In this concert, they perform works by Florence Price and Sibelius under the baton of conductor Roderick Cox, and feature multi-award-winning pianist Gerard Aimontche performing Rachmaninov’s Piano Concerto No.3.


Sounds Under the Bridge

Saturday 15  – Sunday 16 July, 12 – 6pm Saturday and Sunday, Under Hungerford Bridge, Free

Everything from Afrofunk to hip-hop and kora can be heard at the Sounds Under the Bridge pop-up stage, whilst enjoying some delights from the Africa Utopia food market. This eclectic mix of music has been programmed by brilliant rising-star, singer songwriter, Sherika Sherard.


Pram Jam

Saturday 15 July, 10.30am, Clore Ballroom, £5

The ever-popular Pram Jam is back influenced by African music and movement. Open to everyone of all abilities, the workshop invites children aged five and under and their carers/parents are invited to move, groove and sing along to the wonderful rhythms.


Sing Your Story Workshop

Saturday 15 July, 11:45am – 12:30pm, Clore Ballroom, Free

Join storyteller Lanre Njoku in this joyful collective singing, song-writing and storytelling workshop which embraces freedom of expression through the use of the voice.

African Futures: What next?

Saturday 15 July, 11.30 – 12.30pm, Weston Roof Pavilion, included in Saturday and Weekend Pass

What chance do African nations have of thriving in the new global and political landscape? What impact will Brexit and Trump have on trade, growth and foreign policy and how will the continent drive its own agenda?  Leading activists, academics and experts investigate, as they predict what the future holds for the continent and its diaspora.


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

This social media workshop led by Temi Otedola (78K Instagram followers), founder of fashion and lifestyle blog (featured in Vogue, The Times, TRUE Africa and CNN), provides tips on standing out from the crowd, nurturing a brand, and appealing to a global audience.


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

Panelists read the Sunday papers at Africa Utopia, taking a snapshot of the biggest Africa-related headlines and stories and discuss their impact.This session is followed by a keynote looking at what the future holds for the world’s most diverse and fast moving continent.


Our Mighty Groove social dance

Saturday 15 July, 12.30 – 2pm, Level 2 Terrace, Free, BSL interpreted

Our Mighty Groove workshop and social dance provides an immersive experience of the New York underground club scene. Led by Vicki Igbokwe, Choreographer and Founder of Uchenna Dance, the workshop and social dance is inspired by Uchenna Dance’s full scale production Our Mighty Groove.


Disrupting Expectations: A Conversation With Amma Asante

Saturday 15 July, 1pm, Weston Roof Pavilion, Included in the pass

BAFTA award-winning screenwriter and director of the films Belle and A United Kingdom, Ghanaian-British filmmaker Amma Asante speaks about pushing boundaries, capturing hidden black stories and the future of cinema.


Young, African and Breaking the Mould

Saturday 15 July, 1pm, Level 3 Function Room at Royal Festival Hall, Included in the pass

Africa has the youngest population in the world, with over 200 million people between 15 and 24-years-old. Speakers for this event include young Africans who are leading the way in everything from tech to fashion and activism.


East African Literary All Stars

Saturday 15 July, 2:30 – 3:30pm Weston Roof Pavilion, included in the Saturday and Weekend Pass

Stretching from the Arabian sea to the cities of Khartoum, Nairobi, Hargesya and beyond, the ‘Greater Horn of Africa’ is a meeting place of cultures that has produced some of the most exciting literary talents of recent times. Visitors discover the diverse styles, current trends and concerns which contribute to making this distinctive region a literary powerhouse.


Africa: Feminism and the Future

Saturday 15 July, 2.30pm, Weston Roof Pavilion, Included in the pass

This discussion is centred on the struggle women experience as political and economic leaders. How are feminists on the continent, and in the diaspora, finding solutions to this global problem?


Africa Utopia Big Sing

Saturday 15 July, 2.30pm, Riverside Terrace, Free

Audiences are encouraged to come together and sing songs inspired by the themes in  Africa Utopia 2017 in a Big Sing for all ages and abilities. No prior singing experience necessary.


Rebooting Africa

Saturday 15 July, 2.30 – 5pm, Level 3 Function Room, Royal Festival Hall

From a pan-African all girls science academy in Ghana, to hackathons and digital clubs, this session explores how technology is rapidly reshaping culture and society in Africa and beyond. The event also includes an interactive workshop providing the chance to create and pitch an Africa focused tech-driven business or social idea to entrepreneur Tom Illube, tech entrepreneur and Powerlist’s most influential person of African and African Caribbean heritage.


People’s Catwalk

Saturday 15 July, 4pm, Level 2 Riverside Terrace, Free, BSL Interpreted

Southbank Centre is searching far and wide for fashionistas and trendsetters to help showcase Africa’s influences on contemporary London fashion. The Africa Utopia People’s Catwalk showcases how Africa influences contemporary London fashion. Fashion lovers of all ages and of course styles are welcome. Further details on how to get involved will be available in June and will be found here:


Africa Utopia Catwalk Curated By Africa Fashion Week London

Saturday 15 July, 5pm, Level 2 Riverside Terrace, Free

Showcasing some of the very best fashion collections by designers from across the continent and its diaspora, this year’s Africa Utopia Catwalk is curated by Africa Fashion Week London and takes place along the riverside, with the stunning backdrop of the Thames.


Black in the Day – Scanning Social

Saturday 15 July, 4 – 8pm, Archive Studio, Free

Black in the Day is an exciting collective focused on documenting black British life. This is a submission-based archive documenting lived experience by asking people to find and share photos. Visitors are invited to bring along photographs showing any aspect of black life to create and add to their own digital archive.


What The Trees Know

Saturday 15 July, 6 – 6:30pm; 7:30 – 8pm, St Paul’s Roof Pavilion, £10

If you sliced through your life, like a tree’s trunk, what story would the rings of your life tell? This improvised performance through music and poetry, by South African poet Toni Stuart and UK poet Remi Graves, in which the artists and the audience wear blindfolds, explores human vulnerability and the role it plays in the ability to build relationships and grow true community.


Presidents of Laughrica,

Saturday 15 July, 8:45pm, Weston Roof Pavilion, £15

Comedian Daliso Chaponda brings together this showcase by some of the best comedians of the diaspora, as they tackle the current issues facing Africa and beyond.


Afrikan Yoga

Sunday, 16 July, 10 – 11:15am, Roof Garden, Queen Elizabeth Hall, £10

Participants practice Afrikan Yogic movements known as Raagus (dance), Hika (affirmations), visualisations, Smai breathing, Hudu (similar to Afrikan Tai Chi) and Still Postures from the Nile Valley, Ancient Africa. The session is delivered by founder of Afrikan Yoga, Pablo Imani and is open to all levels.


Africa Utopia Black History Walks

Sunday 16 July, 12 – 1.30pm, 2.30 – 4.00pm, Level 2 Foyer(s) at Royal Festival Hall, £10

Visitors are invited to see the city in a new light with an exciting, interactive tour of London’s African and Caribbean history along the riverside at the South Bank. The tour covers black heroes of World Wars I and II, British Civil Rights, inventors, Apartheid, gentrification and much more.


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

Visitors are welcome to attend a live poetry reading at the newly designed Room for Children, in The National Poetry Library. One of poetry’s star performers will bring the space to life with poems and songs for children and their adult carers to listen and sing along to.


Passenger Seats with Chineke! Junior Orchestra

Sunday 16 July, 11:30am 12pm The Clore Ballroom, Free

At a special immersive performance, visitors can experience what it feels like to sit in an orchestra. An initiative of the Chineke! Foundation, the Chineke! Junior Orchestra is a youth orchestra of black and minority-ethnic musicians, aged 11 to 18 years.  


Writing Workshop: Short Story Surgery

Sunday 16 July, 12pm, Level 3 Function Room, Included in the pass

Editor, book designer and manuscript reader Vimbai Shire teaches visitors how to edit, polish and refine a potentially prize-winning short story. Shire has has worked with  Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, Brian Chikwava, Jennifer Nansubuga Makumbi, Kamila Shamsie, Paul Theroux, Jonathan Tel and Binyavanga Wainaina and many others.


Have A Go with Chineke! Junior Orchestra

Sunday 16 July, 12.15 – 1pm The Clore Ballroom, Free

Visitors are invited to join members of the Chineke! Junior Orchestra with this fun session that provides an opportunity for children to play different orchestral string instruments under expert guidance from these young talented Chineke! Junior members.


Future4Youth Dance Workshop

Sunday 16 July, 1.30- 2.30pm, Clore Ballroom, Free

An upbeat dance workshop with Future4Youth exploring the connection between Hip-Hop Dance and Dance of the African Diaspora. Future4Youth work with youth companies from across the UK through practical workshops, performance opportunities and mentoring.


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

What does it mean to be an African man in the disapora? Global media brand Nataal presents a special event and photographic body of work by photographer Mehdi Lacoste and stylist KK Obi celebrating contemporary African masculinities. Featuring performances and talks by London-based creatives including Larry B, Akinola Davies, Emmanuel Balogun, Nataalfounder Alassane Sy and others.


Bino and Fino

Sunday 16 July, 2 – 2.30pm; 3 – 3.30pm,Sunley Pavilion, Royal Festival Hall, £6 adults, £3 children

Visitors can enjoy screenings of this wonderful Nigerian cartoon series teaching children about Africa and the world. The show follows the adventures of Bino and Fino from Nigeria as each day brings something new for them to learn.


Afro Play. Colour Vs Place

Sunday 16 July, 2:30 – 3:30pm, Level 2 Terrace, Free

Afro Play explores identity in African culture through the theme of ‘Colour vs Place’. This exciting performance features dance artist’s exploration of their journey to discover their identity. The project is lead by One Dance UK Trailblazer Champion 2017, Ithalia Forel.


Activism and Social Change

Sunday 16 July, 3 – 4pm, Level 5 Function Room, Royal Festival Hall, included in the Sunday and Weekend Pass

How are activists on the African continent and in the diaspora working across borders to make real change happen? What lessons can we learn from each other and how do we turn local action into global solidarity? Visitors are invited to find out the answers to these questions and more in this talk.


Africa Utopia Textile Printing Workshop

Saturday 15 and Sunday 16 July, Saturday: 1 – 5pm, Sunday: 3 – 5pm, The Clore Ballroom, Free

Participants are invited to get creative and play with African textiles and printing at this free session, which offers the chance to create a unique printed creation.


Women, Drumbeats and Self Care: A Twerkshop

Sunday 16 July, 3pm, Level 3 Function Room at Royal Festival Hall. Included in the pass

Participants are invited to join Kelechnekoff Fitness founder, Kelechi Okafor, and explore West African dance as release and self care through this combined twerkshop and discussion. All dance levels and genders welcome.


Sunday Session, Festival Makers takeover

Sunday 16 July, 4 – 5pm, Festival Terrace

Programmed by Southbank Centre’s Festival Makers, this hour of live music will be exclusively billed by the young team who have taken over the programming reigns after an intensive course working with the music and programming team for Africa Utopia.  

Bloco & Beatlife Perform

Sunday 16 July, 5.30 – 6.15pm, Level 2 Terrace, Free

Kinetika Bloco and BeatLife collaborate to create an African inspired celebration performance fusing rhythms and genres from the African Diaspora.


Cosmic Ashoke: An Evening of Afrofuturism

Sunday 16 July, 6.45 – 8.15pm, St Paul’s Roof Pavilion, £12

Sound and visuals collide in an Afro-futuristic multi-artform experience. Travelling from an unknown past to unseen futures, Cosmic Ashoke explores Afro-futuristic poetry and music through unique visual and auditory experiences.


Violet Nights: Afro Queer

Sunday 16 July, 7 – 9pm, Violet Room, Free ticketed

When race and queerness intersect; Violet Nights is a space for young people to safely experiment, socialise and explore with music, performance and discussion.

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