Africa Utopia

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Words Danai Mavunga

The Southbank Centre is hosting a month-long celebration of African culture entitled Africa Utopia, part of the wider Festival Of The World.

From 1-28 July, the pioneering London arts venue – in conjunction with Senegalese singer and human rights campaigner Baaba Maal – will bring “an African paradise to the heart of London” with live music, discussions, fashion shows and more.

A programme of free talks and debates will take place on the weekend of 20-22 July (from 11am-7pm each day), looking at everything from Africa´s technology revolution to Africa on the catwalk.

Hannah Pool, curator of talks and debates for Africa Utopia (and ARISE Features Editor), says: "All too often the conversations that happen about Africa are about how the West can 'help' Africa. Africa Utopia is about flipping that around, challenging preconceptions and most of all highlighting some of the best African talent, be it in music, visual arts, literature, film or anything else".

Highlights include:

Africa on the Catwalk

Ola Shobowale, Creative Director of Infinite Beauty Factory, and Arise Magazine Fashion Director Sabrina Henry present some of Africa’s hottest. Look out for Bestow Elan (Ghana/UK), Chichia London (Tanzania/UK), Eki Orleans (Nigeria/UK), Madam Wokie (Sierra Leone), Kezia Frederick (UK), and MO SAÏQUE Shoes (Ghana/UK).

The Ultimate Afrobeats Utopia

A mish-mash of of Afrobeats from all over the African continent, delivered by BBC 1xtra’s DJ Edu, award-winning DJ Neptizzle and Sef Kombo. Nigeria’s Ice Prince is set to do a special set.

ARISE and Shine

Our very own ARISE salon will be a free, interactive event with African art, theatre, fashion, poetry and music, including special performances by Bez and Lebo Mashile.

For the full Africa Utopia programme, visit

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