The AFROPUNK Festival is a musical institution, defining culture in the music world for over 14 years, a triumph of multiculturalism and diversity for people of all races, genders, colours, creeds and tastes. NEW YORK, ATLANTA, LONDON and PARIS are all home to global AFROPUNK events, and now you can add JOHANNESBURG to that list of global capitals. The first batch of performers who’ll take part in the inaugural festival, which will take place on December 30-31, were announced by Sal Masekela at a bash featuring the finest in SA culture at Constitution Hill’s Women’s Jail on Thursday the 11th of May. Thandiswa Mazwai (a.k.a. King Tha) & The Blk Jks, Manthe Ribane, Themba Lunacy and DJ Doowap rocked the launch party till the early hours of the morning.
Says festival co-creator Matthew Morgan “Thoughtful curation sees house, kwaito, punk, hip-hop, soul, reggae, roots, pop and other genres all a part of the AFROPUNK Johannesburg celebration that will culminate in an unforgettable New Year’s Eve party in this awesome African city.” Among the artists who will be performing at AFROPUNK Joburg are Solange, Laura Mvula, King Tha vs. Blk Jks, Theo Parrish, The Brother Moves On, Spoek Mathambo, Black Motion, Gods Sons & Daughters, Manthe Ribane & OKZharp, DJ Lag, Urban Village, Nakhane Toure, Nonku Phiri and TCIYF, with more performers set to be announced.
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 mindset. From the neighborhoods of Brooklyn, New York, through to U.S. and Europe, and now in yet another continent, this AFROPUNK mindset is less concerned with genres and pigeonholes, than the strength and unity of otherness. Modern South Africa is proof of the victory of otherness over historical precedent, and of the country’s desire to mold a society based on virtues that are at the core of AFROPUNK.
Since the festival first launched in Brooklyn, New York 14 years ago, AFROPUNK has been defining culture in the music world; a triumph of multiculturalism, diversity and championing all races, genders, colours, creeds and tastes. Each year, AFROPUNK unites over 90,000 people across their festivals, and another 40,000 at their other events. Over 160 bands and DJ’s have become part of the AFROPUNK family. Artists who have performed at past AFROPUNK festivals include Grace Jones, D’Angelo, Mos Def, Lauryn Hill, Lenny Kravitz, Erykah Badu, Ice Cube, Janelle Monae, Chuck D, Bad Brains, George Clinton, TV on the Radio, Flying Lotus, Kaytranada, Lianne La Havas, Death Grips, and many others.
“We are excited about collaborating with South African artists, audiences and service providers in a similar way as we do in America and in Europe, as we establish AFROPUNK in Africa,” says Morgan.
This year’s AFROPUNK theme is WE THE PEOPLE, and it is reflected in the musical lineup as well as the food, art and style marketplace aspects of AFROPUNK. Says Morgan: “The theme of WE THE PEOPLE, a phrase that begins both the American and South African constitutions, and was chosen specifically to coincide with AFROPUNK’s first outing in Johannesburg. Which makes the Constitution Hill venue even more poignant.“
In the same way that Johannesburg was a natural fit for AFROPUNK, so is Constitution Hill. The Constitution Hill Human Rights Precinct is a deeply symbolic and significant site. It is the site of Johannesburg’s notorious Old Fort Prison Complex, commonly known as Number Four. During the nation’s turbulent past, thousands of people including violent criminals, pass-offenders and political prisoners were incarcerated side by side in the prison complex. Nelson Mandela and Mahatma Gandhi were detained here making it the only place in the world where two Nobel Peace Prize Laureates were imprisoned.
But Constitution Hill is also the home of South Africa’s Constitutional Court, the protector of the republic’s basic rights and freedoms and the highest court in the land, So what was once a place of injustice, brutality and the the violation of human rights has become a place of solidarity and democracy for all South Africans. For this reason, it is also a most fitting home for AFROPUNK says Dawn Robertson, CEO of Constitution Hill.
More artists will be announced for the AFROPUNK Joburg lineup in the build-up to the December event. In the meantime, people are encouraged to buy tickets – http://bit.ly/2rd0kku
Attendees are also encouraged to become a part of the AFROPUNK community, engaging with its pop-up art installations and marketplace stalls. It’s about creating an extended family of AFROPUNK, with a united voice to be heard and celebrated.