New Africa in London festival launches at City Hall

24 May 2019

A brand new summer-long, London-wide celebration of African culture and creativity has been launched at City Hall today.

Africa in London will celebrate the diversity of the continent, as well as the rich cultural contribution Londoners of African heritage make to the life of our city, by highlighting and supporting events across the capital from June to September.

The variety of events – from historical walks to media seminars, music concerts to day-long conferences focusing on health and wellbeing in the black community – showcase the complexity and richness of the African experience in our capital. Africa in London was conceived by a collective of organisations including the Africa Centre, Royal African Society, Southbank Centre, Open the Gate, Hatch Events, the Voice, Colourful Radio and the British Council to bring Londoners of all ages a taste of African culture and history throughout the summer.

The programme features key partner events each month to encourage creative collaboration and recognise the breadth of African cultural output in the capital.

The key partner events are:

  • Open the Gate Festival at Rich Mix, in Shoreditch – Saturday 8 June: A spectacular one-day event featuring live music, an African Market, family workshops and African street food
  • Africa Writes at the British Museum - Friday 5 – Sunday 7 July: A celebration of contemporary literature from Africa and the diaspora, brought to you by The Royal African Society and presented in partnership with the British Library
  • Africa Fashion Week London at Freemasons Hall, in Holborn – Friday 9 - Saturday 10 August: Europe's largest fashion event promoting and nurturing African and African-inspired design talent
  • Africa Utopia at Southbank Centre – Friday 13 – Sunday 15 September: A weekend festival celebrating the African continent and its diaspora through talks and debates, music and performance, comedy and fashion

City Hall wants to encourage and support the surge of artists, young people and high-profile Londoners connecting with their African roots so the programme will also offer micro-grants and a mentoring programme to support new developments in African arts and culture across the capital.

Africa in London was launched today at City Hall as Deputy Mayor of London for Social Integration, Social Mobility and Community Engagement, Debbie Weekes-Bernard joined a host of creatives including writers, designers, artists and musicians. The event was hosted by broadcaster Zezi Ifore and featured a keynote address by Alec Boateng - the head of A&R at Atlantic Records.

London-based DJs Rivah Feseha and Kusheda Mensah performed and guests also heard a recital of a specially commissioned poem by Belinda Zahwi on the themes of African creativity and new beginnings.

Deputy Mayor of London for Social Integration, Social Mobility and Community Engagement, Debbie Weekes-Bernard said: “I’m delighted to announce a fantastic new programme to celebrate the huge impact Londoners of African heritage have made and continue to make on all aspects of life in our capital.

“London’s long history and deep links with Africa will be celebrated through a summer of events - and Africa in London will bring the sights and sounds of this vast continent to the foreground. It will allow Londoners of all ages and backgrounds to experience and learn more about the historical and cultural riches of our communities.”

Kenneth Olumuyiwa Tharp CBE, Director, The Africa Centre said: “As a shared interest group made up of individuals and organisations who all have a key role in promoting African and African-Caribbean culture in London and the UK, Africa in London has, in a short space of time, proved to be a very valuable meeting of minds.

“Key amongst our priorities are: to collectively raise the profile and presence of African and diaspora events in London, to help ensure the breadth and diversity of activity across London is represented, and to be a shared voice for advocacy and exchange for and with the African and diaspora communities in London.”

Kate Arthurs, Director Arts, British Council said: “As the UK’s leading organisation for cultural relations, the British Council fosters understanding between Britain and other nations.

“As part of building international creative connections, we aim to expand the knowledge and profile of contemporary African art and culture in the UK, helping to raise awareness among the UK public. We are therefore delighted to be partnering on this innovative campaign, giving people the chance to experience a wide range of cultural events through Africa in London.”

Notes to editors

Information about the Africa in London festival is available here and will continue to be updated throughout the summer - www.london.gov.uk/AfricaLDN