An eclectic mix of people and culture, live entertainment, good food and even better vibes all around would be reminiscent of any local farmers market in South Africa, but this is no ordinary weekend outing, this is Afropunk Festival 2017!
Johannesburg being the fifth city to host the internationally known festival after Paris, London, Atlanta and New York, welcomed thousands to its golden gates from December 30th to 31st 2017.
Hosted at the heritage site in the heart of the city, Constitutional hill was lit up. With some of the top local and international artists in genres ranging from alternative and blues, to hip-hop, electronic and even something for the rockstars in us all, Afropunk Festival was all the vibe one would expect it to be. Some of the major artists included Anderson Paak, Laura Mvula, King Tha vs BLK JKS, Nakhane, Blitz The Ambassador, Petite Noir, Nonku Phiri, Black Motion and Jojo Abot just to name a few.
Despite the shade thrown at a certain Knowles family member for not being able to show face at The Festival due to medical reasons, (We still got mad love for you Solange. That album was fire), African artists held their own for the throngs of music enthusiast who were present on the day. A couple of minutes before the countdown, Laura Mvula graced the audience with her electric performance. The Zimbabwean born, London raised artist promoted ideologies of self-love, strength and gave the audience a 100 star performance, if there was ever such a rating.
This in itself proves that the entertainment and media industry have reason to trust and even invest in Brand Africa. We are not only talented but also have a huge growth potential that could lift up the socio-economic status of creatives among Africa’s citizenry and its people at large.
Showcasing Brand Africa’s true prowess
The Festival provided a unique platform, not just for entertainment but also an authentic, rich and artistic African experience unlike any other. Not only did it provide a unique platform that brought together music of different sounds but also individual and cultural expression through fashion, as well as an underrated means of exploring entrepreneurial, branding and marketing opportunities.
Granted the emphasis from the Festival borders on the obvious, the implications are far-reaching and far more intriguing. The theme “we the people” celebrates black excellence, black freedom and black empowerment. Some of the terms we have heard as a major outcry not only in the founding country, the United States of America but also in South Africa.
So it seemed fitting that the organisers decided it best to host it at Johannesburg’s Constitutional hill, a heritage site which played a significant role during the apartheid regime which sought to disempower black people. AfropPunk founder Matthew Morgan said in a statement, “The move to Johannesburg is a natural fit in line with AfroPunk’s desire to make connections throughout the diaspora, creating bonds between those with a shared mind-set.”
The ethos behind this particularly burst of multiculturalism was “No sexism, no racism, no ableism, no ageism, no homophobia, no fatphobia, no transphobia” and was displayed very loudly through banners, posters, art and fashion at the festival. As a result many attendees representing the youth pop culture felt right at home. One of the attendees, Kayleen Morgan said she felt so excited to be there. “There’s no hate, just love, good vibes and good people,” she told MappAfrica.
The C in “Creative” stands for culture
The prominence of African fashion is steadily on the rise on the continent and in the eyes of the world. To be frank, if the world is truly a global village, Africa is the sapeur of the neighborhood! Well known for vibrant color palettes, unique fabrics and often time’s handmade and tailored ensembles, the Afropunk Festival showcased the best of Africa’s fashion kaleidoscope with the utmost flare.
From East to West, North to South, Africans were out in their numbers, as a collective, letting the Festival to be a melting pot combining the best African flavours the people have to offer. The thousands who came ushered in the New Year proving that Africa too can dress boasting colourful ornaments, hip and pop outfits, and cultural gowns and with a hint of their own unique style from head to toe. Once again, fashion and youth culture proved to be the driving mechanism for the younger generation to be heard, and with resounding effect, making them the real stars of the show.
All this culture, all this creativity, all this flavour, it’s just too much sauce and all for good reason. The variety and volume on display is testament to Africa’s untapped skill set – creativity – which could be the spark Africa needs to equip its future labour force and bolster economic growth down the line.
Here’s but a few of some of the greatest looks from the 2 day festival.
Future too bright?
Feeling the fomo yet? Well hang tight. Word on the street is AfroPunk is here to stay. So we can certainly look forward to its upcoming events this year. According to a statement made by Solange, she will try by all means to be there for real and previous Afropunk Joburg attendees will receive a discount. Well, we don’t know about you but we’re so ready for that one.
All in all, the Afropunk Festival did more than just bring people together; putting on an eventful weekend for all those in attendance, but it further solidified Africa’s relevance and highlighted the fact that, much like our cultural attire and people, the future of the continent is a bright one. No matter what room we walk into, with a future as bright as ours, we have every reason to keep our shades on.
By Karen Mwendera and Joe Kasuyi