FREE LONDON: Family Fun at the Southbank Centre’s Africa Utopia Festival

Following 2012’s first edition, Africa Utopia is back at the Southbank Centre to once again look at what can be learnt and celebrated from Africa and the African Diaspora, including a range of fun and engaging activities for all the family.

The festival will take place from 11th-14th September and will feature free concerts, storytelling from African storyteller and children’s author Atinuke, as well as opportunities for all ages to join a ‘Big Sing’, a ‘Scratch Orchestra’ or even an introductory breakdancing classAfrican visual art will adorn the site providing a feast for the eyes, whilst the African food market will dish up culinary treats all weekend long.


Festival highlights for the family:

Simply Soweto EnchaFREE, Friday 12 September, Level 2 Central Bar at Royal Festival
Hall, 1pm, Friday Lunch with MasterCard
This a-cappella group from Soweto will sing gospel, soul, jazz, doo-wop, and r’n’b both in African and popular styles, celebrating South African oral and dance traditions.

Homage to Magool: FREE, Friday 12 September, The Clore Ballroom at Royal Festival Hall, 6pm, Friday Tonic with MasterCard
Somali singer Farxiya Fiska celebrates the legacy of the superstar Magool, 10 years on from her death.

RecraftedFREE, Friday 12 September, Africa Utopia Marketplace, Level 2 Foyers at Royal Festival Hall, 10am – 2:30pm
Come and explore Recrafted, our pop-up market stall featuring the work of young designers from
Johanna Primary School. The students have been working with artists Kathy Shenoy and Rebecca Moore from ethical design brand Shake the Dust to explore product development, design, sustainability and enterprise inspired by the imagination and ingenuity of African craftsmanship.

Atinuke Storytelling: FREE, Spirit Level (yellow room) at Royal Festival Hall, 12 noon – 1pm, 13 +14 September
African storyteller and author Atinuke conjures the sights, sounds and hustle and bustle of African city life as she talks about her Anna Hibiscus books for children.

Come and Play!:  FREE, Saturday 13 September
Join our scratch orchestra, conducted by Armand Diangiendu, to try out some of the pieces The Orchestre Symphonique Kimbanguiste from the Congo perform in their concert on Sunday 14 September.
Suitable for all ages; Grade 3+. Bring your own instrument. The Clore Ballroom at Royal Festival Hall, performance: 12.30pm <>  <>  with your name, instrument and ability level to sign up for the project and for more information. Sign in on the day from 10am; rehearsals begin at 10.30am.

Big Sing: FREE, Riverside Terrace, 1pm, 13 September
Voicelab hosts the choir of the Orchestre Symphonique Kimbanguiste for a Big Sing. Learn a selection of traditional Congolese songs ahead of their Royal Festival Hall concert the following evening. Raise your voice alongside singers of all abilities and ages – just turn up on the day and join in.

Say it Through BreakdancingFREE, The Clore Ballroom at Royal Festival Hall, 1pm & 2.30pm, 14 September
Say it through Breakdancing is a British Council initiative aimed at taking the breakdancing art-form beyond the battle spirit. The project is artistically driven by Hakeem Onibudo of Impact Dance, who has been working with ten B-Boys from North African countries, namely Morocco, Algeria, Libya and Tunisia. The aim is to empower the dancers to tell their own stories, including their hopes and challenges as citizens of a region undergoing major social, political and economic change. The project pursues the goal of showing a positive image of this region and combats the stereotypes that the media tend to portray.

Say it Through Breakdancing workshop: FREE, 14 September, The Clore Ballroom at Royal Festival Hall, 11am
Footwork, top rock and basic freezes – join this beginners’ workshop and learn how it’s done. Wear comfortable clothes.

Throughout the festival the Southbank Centre will also play host to some of Africa’s most iconic musicians, artists, activists and entrepreneurs. They include the father of Ethio-jazz, Mulatu Astatke; multi-award winning comedian Gina Yashere fresh from her appearances on The Tonight Show with Conan O’Brien and The Tonight Show with Jay Leno. The Southbank Centre site will also be taken over with free events and visual delights such as an eccentric collection of ‘upcycled’ furniture,  Mary Evans’ life-size craft paper figures that explore the idea that ‘it takes a village to raise a child’ and spectacular recycled plastic lights by Heath Nash.

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