At Southbank Centre, on the South bank of the River Thames, Africa Utopia Festival was celebrating African art and culture. Workshops, music, fashion and food market plus loads more were there.
We’ve recently seen that the African continent, especially West Africa has gained global attention around the world and in London. What’s the reason for that? Well African music, sound, fashion and art has always been global but it’s just that Europeans are catching up to it now and did you know that London is the most diverse city in the UK? I'm sure you knew in the back of your mind.
I scrolled through social media, as you do, and found out about this African festival that was happening at The Southbank Centre in London. It was a spontaneous decision to go with my mum and we had a good time. Something different to do in London, because if you look hard enough and do your research you can make this city your own, have a blast at the same time and spend little to no money at all. It was called Africa Utopia. This festival celebrates the arts and culture of this continent.
This culture inspires other British Africans and myself all the time. Stationary, books, home ware, children's wear, male and female fashion, jewellery, headwraps, phone cases and more is decorated in african or ankara print. Let us not forget business people, life coaches, comedians, performers and African dancers. This is a sign that we are all united and want to show the best of our countries and what we have to offer. We are brilliant people and I am wanting to expand people's minds about this exciting, dynamic and fast changing culture that always has lots to give, in a positive way. Lets celebrate this. Who's with me?
Inside the Southbank Centre were many pop-up stalls of different medium sized brands selling a variety of things from art books to birthday cards, clothes to jewellery, dolls to baby clothes and home ware to note books. The vibe was alright. You come in and African music was playing. Songs from Fela Kuti to Fuse ODG and everybody was so welcoming. Some people were teaching their potential customers how to tie a headwrap, some were explaining their product and some of us just got talking about how this continent has grown socially, economically and in the media. Eveybody was so nice. It felt like you were making new acquaintances.
There were four musicians, performing outside, on Saturday and they were all extremely talented. One was playing the electric guitar like no other, one drummer was just going for it and was always on the beat. The keyboard player was like Jamie Cullum but added his own twist to it. A younger lady played the bongos. There was an afro jazz singer with her band, a spoken-word and lyrical singer with hers too. All the songs I heard were very memorable and each band played professionally, gave the best performances and you could tell. They were enjoying themselves and that translated in the crowd most of the times. Loads of smiley faces.
The audience’s participation in their performances was good and the communication they gave, got the crowd feeling involved. Lots of people were dancing, shaking their hips and clapping a long. So overall great music and good performances.
It would of been nice to have some experimental sounds, more afrobeat vibes and the incredibly intense performances from musicians, that you can get. The instrumental ensemble plays a significant role in afrobeat music and it highlights the effect that every note has in afrobeat. A great line-up of musicians, anyway.
The food market surrounding the outside of the Southbank Centre was a great idea and they had many food stalls, from different parts of Africa and international, which were good e.g. Ghanian, Nigerian, South African and Serlonian to name some. Plantain, okra, jerk chicken and so much more. A variety of drinks too.
The work of emerging and established artists working in Africa and the diaspora was displayed in the Southbank Centre and was great.
Overall a good event and festival. I would recommend everyone to go again if your wanting a more African and international mixed festival or if your wanting to know more about this culture a little, then do come next year and explore for yourself. It's so easy to get to. Either, Embankment, Waterloo or Charing Cross tube station will get you there.
That's all from me. Enjoy! Please do leave your comments below.