Southbank Centre’s Africa Utopia festival returns in a new collaboration with Indaba X for a weekend of events celebrating art and culture from Africa and its diaspora

13-15 September 2019

Featuring Akala, Clara Amfo, Big Narstie, Chineke! Orchestra, Noel Clarke, Davido, Nathalie Emmanuel, Simon Frederick, Dr Abosede George, Lee Gray, Femi Kuti, Denise Lewis, Mata, Nina Reece, Jay Jay Revlon, Osi Umenyiora with more names to be announced.

Southbank Centre today announces the first names and events for Africa Utopia 2019, as well as a new partnership for this year’s festival with co-curators Indaba X. Showcasing an exciting lineup of leading artists and voices from the African continent and its diaspora, Africa Utopia 2019 will encompass three days of music, comedy, performance, literature, fashion, talks, debates, workshops and free activity across Southbank Centre’s 17-acre site (13-15 September 2019).  

This Southbank Centre festival, now in its seventh year, celebrates and explores Africa and its diaspora’s influence in shaping the way we think about art, culture, gender, race, sexuality, fashion, activism and society. New for this year’s festival, Southbank Centre is pleased to be working with co-curators Indaba X who, with The Kofi Annan Foundation and Event Horizon, powered by Live Nation, are a new initiative designed to celebrate, inspire and bring together the African diaspora through a range of art forms and cultural disciplines.  Indaba X is also in partnership with social platform Vero for the event.

Names and events for Africa Utopia 2019 include: 


  • Opening the festival, The Kuti family presents “Afrika Shrine Alive” bringing the atmosphere and energy of the iconic New Afrika Shrine in Ikeja, Lagos to Southbank Centre’s Royal Festival Hall for an evening of live music and dance. Celebrating the legacy of pioneer of the Afrobeat music genre, Fela Kuti, performers include four-time Grammy-nominated Nigerian musician Femi Kuti with further names to be announced.


  • A chamber ensemble from Chineke! Orchestra, Southbank Centre Associate Orchestra and Europe’s only professional majority-BME orchestra, return to Africa Utopia performing Errollyn Wallen’s NENNA, and an arrangement of the highlife song Sweet Mother by Prince Nico Mbarga, sometimes referred to as ‘Africa’s National Anthem’. In a free event, Chineke! Junior Orchestra invites audiences to sit amongst the players and hear music performed up close. 


  • Olympic gold medallist Denise Lewis, English sports pundit, former NFL player and 2 time Super-Bowl champion Osi Umenyiora discuss the power and price of protest in sport


  • Poet and rapper Akala,  Associate Professor of History and Africana Studies at Barnard College in New York, Dr. Abosede George and historian Ed Keazor discuss how and where black cultural memory is preserved 


  • Photographer and filmmaker Simon Frederick, Game of Thrones actress Nathalie Emmanuel and Kidulthood writer and actor Noel Clarke explore the power of black perspectives, both in front of and behind the lens, discussing how the film industry has both celebrated and denied diversity 


  • A panel featuring Nigerian singer-songwriter Davido discusses if and how the music made by black artists, from Afrobeat to drill, hip-hop to grime, explores the breadth of blackness


  • In a time of an expanding palette of makeup shades and black-owned beauty brands, Radio 1 presenter Clara Amfo leads a panel discussion on beauty, from self-expression and the performance of identity, to purely the skin deep


  • A special Africa Utopia themed Letters Live event featuring world-class performers reading remarkable letters from black history in this celebration of black contribution to society and culture. 



  • Africa Utopia Fashion Show showcasing designers from all over the African continent who are taking a playful look at gender and identity, while both honouring and subverting traditions of the African aesthetic, in this free event combining music, arts and dance



  • A special Africa Utopia themed comedy showcase – ‘The Laughing Leopard’ – hosted by rapper and MC Big Narstie and featuring a stellar lineup of comedians to be announced 


  • The return of the Africa Utopia Marketplace featuring more than 30 stalls offering the latest in African-inspired fashion, accessories, books, art and homeware, filling the foyer spaces of the Royal Festival Hall 


  • A live makeup tutorial, ‘Black is Beautiful’, with Mata – makeup artist to Skepta, Stormzy and IAMDDB – who offers her tips, tricks and shares her journey of putting the colour back in to mainstream beauty 



  • A creative writing workshop led by writer Nina Reece who will unlock the power of black creativity




  • Jay Jay Revlon of  Peckham’s legendary vogue night Let’s Have a Kiki, and co-founder of The Men of Colour Society leads a free workshop on the art of the voguing – the dance style that originated in the Harlem ballroom scene.


Madani Younis, Creative Director, Southbank Centre said, “We’re excited to present our seventh Africa Utopia festival and to be collaborating with co-curators Indaba X for the first time. Through music and performance, talks and debate, this vitally important festival has become a beacon of fresh ideas and discovery, pushing culture forward. We look forward to inspiring audiences with a packed weekend of events, showcasing an incredible array of artists and a wholehearted celebration of the immense influence of the African continent and its diaspora.”   

Tickets for Africa Utopia go on sale to Southbank Centre Members on Tuesday 21 May and to the general public on Wednesday 22 May with the exception of The Kuti Family Presents Afrika Shrine Alive, Black is Beautiful with Mata, The Art of Voguing with Jay Jay Revlon, The Laughing Leopard, and Creative Writing Workshop with Nina Reece which go on sale at a later date. Click here to find out more about the event.


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