Promising to bring you the very best contemporary African and diaspora performance, dance, literature, music and thinkers, Africa Utopia had a lot to live up to in its fifth year at Southbank Centre.
But the two-day festival was never likely to disappoint, as acts from across the continent converged on Southbank Centre to deliver a fantastic atmosphere that not only enthralled those who’d come to be part of it, but also hooked in anyone who happened to be passing as well.
This was especially true of our outdoor performance spaces, with Rita Ray’s Block Party kept the crowds bouncing on the Riverside Terrace, with the aid of the brilliant Ghanaian afro-pop singer Wiyaala.
Kinetika Bloco are long-time favourites of Southbank Centre, and a known crowd-pleaser. They brought their own unmistakable loud and proud sound to the outdoor stage on our Riverside Terrace.
Sounds Under The Bridge, programmed by Sherika Sherard built up a loyal following over the course of the weekend, with people enjoying the delicious tastes and smells of Pop Up Africa’s Food & Drink Takeover, whilst enjoying some lively performances from the likes of Namiwa Jazz
...as well as soulful African rhythms from the percussion of Duduesta...
...and when everyone was sufficiently fed and warmed-up there was the chance to get up and sing along; especially when the excellent Bee Bakare wanted to dance with somebody.
Bee should’ve gone inside really, where she’d have found no shortage of opportunities to dance, she could’ve even joined in a workshop with Uchenna Dance Company in The Clore Ballroom.
The music didn’t stop inside either, with Chineke! Europe’s first Black and Minority Ethnic Orchestra earning a deserved standing ovation for their typically sensational performance in Royal Festival Hall.
Upstairs there were further performances, including this soulful and melodic recital from the poet and spoken word artist Zena Edwards as part of Cosmic Ashoke.
But for the last word of this year’s festival, let’s take it outside, and back to the Sounds Under The Bridge stage, where we wanted to see you all getting up and dancing and being part of this inclusive festival programme. And, well, you didn’t disappoint.
Listen to some of the highlights from Africa Utopia's wider programme, including talks and events and live comedy in our best bits podcast.