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BY Bridget Boakye, 7:27am December 31, 2017,

Bridging the gap: NYC originated Afropunk Festival makes its debut in Africa

Afropunk Fest in New York City

Afropunk, an iconic annual festival which originated in Brooklyn, NYC, is crossing over to the African continent, specifically to Johannesburg, South Africa, where it will debut this New Year’s Eve.

The festival, which stemmed from a documentary by James Spooner exploring the lives of black people in the punk culture, has been in existence since 2005. Organizers have since expanded their reach from punk to include soul and to cities including Atlanta, Paris, and London.

Now, over a decade since its inception, the festival debuts in Africa, and this move is especially important. Here’s why:

There is a surge of African music fans who are voicing their discontent with African-American artists, and their unwillingness to tour or perform in Africa. Writer, Tsogo Kupa citing Kendrick Lamar’s To Pimp A Butterfly and Beyonce’s Lemonade albums, explains, “the problem arises when African-American artists, create albums that are Pro-Black and have direct influence from Africa, yet announce tours for these albums that don’t involve African countries”.

Afropunk, given its reach, network, and longevity, is the perfect position to bridge this gap – bring acts from around the Diaspora to each other.

Co-creator of the Festival, Morgan writes, “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.” This year, the event’s headliner is Solange Knowles, who’s album, A Seat At The Table, received a Grammy this year.

It is worth noting that although Solange can no longer perform due to an autonomic disorder that keeps her from long flights and rigorous shows, Afropunk’s ability to pull her in for such a show and her decision to headline the show is commendable.

Solange shared the following about South Africa: “It’s so important to me for the people in South Africa, a place that has tremendous meaning to me and that has given me SO SO MUCH, to know why I won’t be performing at Afro Punk this NYE”.

The festival, which is rooted in the values of unity, otherness, and diversity, will be one to watch for not only this week, but for its future work on the continent.


Last Edited by:Ismail Akwei Updated: December 31, 2017


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