54 years ago, the Organisation of African Unity was launched and gave rise to, the day that is commemorated as Africa Day, and 41 years ago the world-famous ’76 uprising changed the face of South Africa.

To celebrate these notable days, Joburg City Theatres, in partnership with the Department of Arts and Culture, have invited the continent on a trans-African journey that celebrates African musicians and writers. The vision of the African Union is that of “an integrated, prosperous and peaceful Africa, driven by its own citizens and representing a dynamic force in the global arena.”

“Africa Day is an opportunity for South Africans to reconnect and commit to a better Africa for all. Song, dance and dialogue have throughout history proven to assist in change and unity.” Says Joburg City Theatres CEO Ms. Xoliswa Nduneni-Ngema

Featuring globally lauded musicians and literary scholars, this year’s Africa and Youth Day celebrations promise not only to entertain, but also to feature platforms for important reflection, focus and dialogue on issues facing Africa, its diaspora and beyond.

Featuring globally lauded musicians and literary scholars, this year’s Africa and Youth Day celebrations promise not only to entertain, but also to feature platforms for important reflection, focus and dialogue on issues facing Africa, its diaspora and beyond. From featuring one of the best drummers living in the world today, to African writers proving the pen’s might over the sword, to a Festival of world-class music, dance, word and song mastery.

Music Programme:

Paco Séry & the African Beat: Multi-Grammy award-winning legendary drummer Paco Séry will be joined by a highly acclaimed ensemble of international African musicians, who are each renowned in their own right. Paco Séry (Ivory Coast), band leader and known to some as the best living drummer in the world, has performed with the likes of Jaco Pastorus, Joe Zawinul, Nina Simone to Marvin Gaye. Etienne Mbappé, a world-class bass player from Cameroon, who boasts of having played with and alongside Manu Dibango, Robben Ford, Ray Charles, John McLaughlin and Bill Evans. Aly Keita from Mali who specializes in traditional instruments including the balafon. Cheick Tidiane Seck (keyboard) also from Mali is an arranger and composer who has written for and played with Fela Kuti, Mory Kanté, Salif Keita, and Youssou N'Dour. Danny Marta (guitar), from France, as well as Nicholas Vella (keyboard) from Italy concludes the star-studded affair.

Mahube is a African collective led by acclaimed composer and saxophonist Steve Dyer (SA) and supported by renowned African musicians Hope Masike (Zimbabwe) a talented singer, dancer and Mbira player; Xixel Langa a dynamic singer and dancer that hails from Mozambique; named the Standard Bank Young Artist for Jazz in 2016, Siya Makuzeni (SA) is a trombone player, vocalist, lyricist and songwriter well-known for her uniquely experimental, edgy yet pure intonation, and Zimbabwean/SA award-winning guitarist and producer Louis Mhlanga.

Nathi is a South African singer-songwriter and artist. He shot to limelight upon the release of his critically acclaimed song titled "Nomvula" off his triple-platinum debut studio album ‘Buyelekhaya’. Originally from the rural Eastern Cape, Nathi has overcome all odds to become a major star in the African continent.

The Parlotones are a South African indie rock band from Johannesburg.  They have released 8 studio albums and are one of South Africa’s best-selling music artists of all time, enjoying multi-platinum success.  They have won 9 South African Music Awards, and, in 2009, were the first South African band to headline at the Coca-Cola Dome.  The band has received international acclaim and toured with the likes of Coldplay, Starsailor, Ash, The Wombats, Snow Patrol and Blue October.

Literature, Poetry and Dialogue:

Claudia Rankine is a poet, essayist, playwright and the editor of several anthologies. Her most recent work, the book-length poem, Citizen: An American Lyric won the 2014 Los Angeles Times Book Award, the 2015 National Book Critics Circle Award in Poetry and was the first book in the award’s history to be nominated in both poetry and criticism. Citizen uses poetry, essay, cultural criticism, and visual images, to explore what it means to be an American citizen in a “post-racial” society. Last year, Rankine announced that she would use the money from her recently bestowed MacArthur “Genius” Grant (US$ 625 000) to help establish the Racial Imaginary Institute in Manhattan, a project where artists will present talks, read essays, host podcasts, and exhibit work focused on race, race relations and the creative imagination.

Music programme: Africa Month Festival

Joburg Theatre – The Mandela stage

Friday,  26th May - 20:00

Paco Séry and the African Beat (West Africa/Paris)

Nathi (SA)

Tickets: R120 - To book tickets telephonically: 0861 670 670 or 011 877 6855 or online:  www.joburgtheatre.comwww.webtickets.co.za

Joburg Theatre – The Mandela stage

Saturday, 27th May - 20:00

Mahube (Zim/SA/Moz)

Paco Séry and the African Beat (West Africa/Paris)

The Parlotones (SA)

Tickets: R150 - To book tickets telephonically: 0861 670 670 or 011 877 6855 or online: www.joburgtheatre.com / www.webtickets.co.za

Literature Programme (Free to the public)

Please RSVP: afroartsurban@gmail.com or urban10@gmail.com.  

Refreshments and snacks will be provided before the talks and workshops.

1) Masterclass Workshop with Claudia Rankine. The importance of writing; unpacking the racial imagination and going beyond.

Joburg Theatre, Space.com

Tuesday 13th June -  14:00

2) Panel Discussion: What is A Decolonised Africa? Young Writers’ Perspectives.

Panelists still to be confirmed.

Joburg Theatre, Space.com

Tuesday, 13th June - 18:30

3) Talk by Claudia Rankine: Deconstructing Culture, Race and Privilege: Black Lives Matter

Soweto, Soweto Theatre

Wednesday, 14th June - 18:30

Transport: Free transport will be provided from Joburg Theatre, Braamfontein, to Soweto Theatre and back. The booking of transport is essential as well as RSVP’s for seats at the talk.