Africa Utopia 2016 - an explosion of music, dance, discourse and fashion

Ghanaian-American actress Maame Adjei, who plays Zainab in the hit web series An African City, will be discussing how African designers are pushing boundaries in fashion by challenging stereotypes and moving beyond tradition.

Her talk, entitled 'Beyond Prints' on 3 September, is one of a series of events being staged during the Africa Utopia festival in London’s Southbank Centre from 31 August until 4 September.
Maame Adjei

Africa Utopia has been going since 2012 and is a celebration of all things African.  From food to fashion, spirituality to dance and discourse to music, the festival aims to offer something for everyone.

There will be in-depth social and political discussions on gender, power and youth culture during the weekend.

Why not come along to the one-hour talk from 1pm on Sunday entitled Gender and Power: African Feminisms Today? The slot will include a workshop on African feminism in the diaspora led by women’s rights activist Fatimah Kelleher.

Youth culture
A thought-provoking look at youth culture from some emerging talent from the Africa diaspora will feature on 4 September.

Speakers include Ghanaian-British photographer and founder of Nii Journal, trans model Campbell Addy and Saltfish & Ackee actor and writer Michelle Tiwo. This panel will be exploring how the young creative minds of Africa and the diaspora are leading the way when it comes to culture, fashion, lifestyle, activism and tech with True Africa founder Claude Grunitzky.

 Fashion show
As well as formal fashion shows, there is a chance for us ordinary folk with a penchant for wearing African-inspired styles, to showcase them at an informal catwalk. Come along on Saturday 3 September for the ‘Africa Utopia People’s Catwalk', which starts from 16:10.

Not forgetting the children, the list of activities are many but a re-make of Rapunzel looks particularly inviting. Refilwe is an African retelling of the fairy tale South African journalist and novelist Zukiswa Wanner, which showcases on Sunday 4 September.

And a fitting end to the festivities will be the screening of the Afripedia film on Sunday from 4pm. This part traditional documentary, part web magazine, the dynamic Afripedia series visits cultural hubs and artists on the continent. Followed by a post-screening discussion with founder of the Nzinga Effect and CNN Africa editor Eliza Anyangwe, Johny Pitts of Afropeans and founder of NU:BLK Gabrielle Smith.

Africa Utopia includes household names such as musician Baaba Maal and journalist Gary Younge, as well as a showcase of African designs and craft. I went last year for the first time and thoroughly enjoyed the experience.

Check out my short video blog of the event which includes an interview with British-Nigerian Nathaniel Williams, owner of the Aso brand here. There is a mix of free and ticketed activities, to book for the paid events, click here

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