The Africa Centre Summer Festival - sponsored by Ecobank and supported by Colourful Radio and The Mayor of London returns on Saturday 18 August to take over London’s Great Suffolk Street and beyond with a full day of free music, dance, street food and family activities in a vibrant celebration of Africa and its Diaspora.
The 2018 edition of the festival embraces the Motherland and Diaspora with music from the Congo, Ethiopia, Ghana, Malawi, Nigeria, Senegal, South Africa, Tanzania and more. Featuring iconic African instruments including koras, balafons and drums, performances will spread across the festival’s three stages to represent the best in traditional folk, new urban music and dance coming from and inspired by the diverse spectrum of Africa.
The music programme at this year’s festival is programmed by curator and Black Music specialist Elliott Jack; DJ, and presenter of BBC 4 series Africa: A Journey Into Music, Rita Ray; and founding member of the youth initiative, The Young Africa Centre (YAC), Efosa Omorogbe. The vibrant dance programme has been curated by choreographer and UK Dance Ambassador Hakeem “Mr Impact” Onibudo.
Festival performances and activities will include:
On the African music stage, host actor, songwriter and sound designer Lulu Mebrathu presents an electric line up that includes DRC’s legendary king of Kwasa Kwasa, Kanda Bongo Man; Nigerian singer-songwriter Dotman; Afri pop singer-songwriter Wiyaala with kologo master Atongo Zimba from Northern Ghana; avant-garde South African electronica from Okzharp & Manthe Ribane; talented teenage Black and Minority Ethnic classical musicians from Chineke! Junior Quartet; West African groove-based ensemble Kadialy Kouyate’s Sound Archive; youth performance group Kinetika Bloco; Tanzanian 21st century neo-roots musician Saidi Kanda and Mvula Mandondo band; and a celebration of the Babatone, Malawi’s traditional folk instrument.
On the Black British music stage, hosted by Woolwich-born grime MC Afrikan Boy, performers will include singer and live vocalist for Rudimental and Damian Lazarus Afronaut Zuu; South London lyricist Che Lingo; and DJ’s on the day DJ Swoosh and Futures Yesterday. The Africa Centre is also excited to present Birmingham duo Lotto Boyzz; East London taste maker and radio DJ P Montana’s Live Band; neo soul spoken word group The Dylema Collective; international spoken word artists Nego True and activist poet Suli Breaks; plus artist collective and jazz crusaders Steam Down.
A vibrant programme of dance, across all three stages, has been curated by Hakeem “Mr Impact” Onibudo with a special youth dance platform featuring 12 exciting youth companies from London, Reading and Wales. Performances by South African-born choreographers, Dane Hurst-Moving Assembly Project and Mbulelo Ndabeni-Nd’a Dance; along with George Duker and Curtis Agyekum of HomeBros and all-female hip-hop crew Myself UK Dance Company led by Kloe Dean, will feature on the main stages covering contemporary African Dance, Afrobeats, Hip-Hop and Street Dance.
Family Activities, Street Food, and African Inspired Stalls
Bringing traffic to a halt for the day’s festivities, the festival will line Great Suffolk Street with 125 stalls boasting an array of delicious food and world cuisine, as well as African-inspired goods including handmade jewellery, clothing, art, prints, hair and skincare products, literature, toys and homeware. A programme of family activities will also take place throughout the day with free activities including headwrapping, faceprinting, mosaic-making, African pattern screen printing and jewellery making.
Led by its newly appointed Director, Kenneth Olumuyiwa Tharp CBE, The Africa Centre is regarded as a dynamic intellectual powerhouse and cultural space for the African Diaspora in the UK. Now an established date in the centre’s calendar, the Summer Festival celebrates and remembers its instrumental position in the development of Black British music since 1964.
Director of The Africa Centre, Kenneth Olumuyiwa Tharp CBE, said:
“Following my recent appointment, I’m thrilled that the beginning of this exciting period of renewal and redevelopment for The Africa Centre is being marked by the second Summer Festival in our Southwark home.
Contemporary Africa is a powerhouse of creative energy. Nowhere reflects that creative force more strongly than the musical talents emerging from the continent and across its extensive Diaspora. Our outdoor festival, with its three stages, will celebrate that extraordinary cultural vibrancy, by showcasing some of the most exciting new and emerging artists. In doing so, it will also reflect the rich legacy of The Africa Centre itself and it’s significant influence, over several decades , on the development of Black British music.
I’m particularly exited that this year, dance will take its place alongside music on both music stages, and that our partnership with Impact Dance will see a brand new youth dance stage to celebrate and showcase young dance talent across the capital and beyond.
Our aim is for The Africa Centre to become the most welcoming cultural space in London and we hope our festival reaches out to as many people as possible, especially those in the local community of Southwark and Bankside.
The Festival is a free and inclusive space for everyone to experience the very best of contemporary African, Diaspora and Black British culture. We’re delighted that Ecobank have joined our celebration as lead sponsors of this year’s Festival, and to also welcome support from Colourful Radio and the Greater London Authority.”
Over the decades The Africa Centre has become a vital instrument for the multiple voices of liberation, and was famously selected as the venue for the public release of a statement from Nelson Mandela during his imprisonment on Robben Island. It has also welcomed numerous writers, poets, playwrights, artists, musicians, historians and political figures including Chinua Achebe, Ben Okri, Alice Walker, Aminata Sow Fall, Walter Rodney, Jazzy B (Soul II Soul), Sokari Douglas, Athol Fugard, Amadou-Mahtar M'Bow, Sally Mugabe and Archbishop Desmond Tutu.
With new leadership and in its new home in Southwark, The Africa Centre has entered an exciting phase, including a major capital project and redefining itself as the international centre for contemporary African culture, business and innovation. Under Kenneth Tharp’s direction The Africa Centre will continue to celebrate and showcase the richness of African and black British culture; challenging stereotypes and telling the diverse stories of Africa and its Diaspora.
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