AFROPUNK FEST - JOHANNESBURG

We welcomed Mariette all the way from London town. Having her very own afro-centric fashion and lifestyle brand called Catface, she was the perfect candidate to come and document from her perspective; an Afro inspired fashion, music, arts and political experience in AFRICA.

After she documented AFROPUNK fest in London, Paris and Brooklyn, it became time for Johannesburg to be at the forefront.

AFROPUNK FEST - JOHANNESBURG

2018-02-16

What is Afropunk? Afropunk is an international festival that takes places around the globe throughout the year. From my perspective and experience, it is the global hangout spot for people of colour – an international creative community.  I have been fortunate and the stars must’ve have been aligned for me to attend Afropunk in Paris, New York, London and Johannesburg at the end of 2017.

AFROPUNK Johannesburg

Afropunk goes beyond its festive events, it stands for ideals and beliefs that upholds values of artistic freedom, it also a  tangible platform for free self expression. At the heart of every Twitter debate about Afropunk’s decisions and its mission statement, every party has these ideals and beliefs in common. However, a forward glance at how Afropunk’s events and artist politics/ expression have unravelled has given rise to far too much speculation.

AFROPUNK Joburg

Afropunk is a loving and accepting community but we are also not afraid to voice our thoughts. We The People of Afropunk have that fiery love that will call you out when we feel like its stepping out on us. For an organsiation that is for The People, this would have been an amazing way for Afropunk to give back to the people, almost selflessly. This is not about bashing something that is so important to alot of us – this is our community and we all devote so much of our time, efforts and energy to be a part of it and most importantly, for it ring true for all of us, THE PEOPLE.

AFROPUNK Fest Joburg

We do not know the terms, conditions and environment they had to make the festival happen in South Africa but it was a damn crying shame that the ticket prices showed no regard for the national living wage. Some may argue that, well…you could “volunteer” and “pick up litter” to earn your ticket. Really? Is that all we can offer WE THE PEOPLE? Considering the historical and cultural significance of Constitution Hill?

The partnership between these two iconic organizations, AFROPUNK and Constitution Hill is aesthetically one born from a shared spirit and shared values.  Both represent a triumph of inclusion, multi-culturalism and equality for people of all races, genders, colours and creed.  AFROPUNK is a community celebrating black culture within an openness to multiculturalism, making it a perfect fit for a precinct like Constitution Hill that commemorates what a brutal culture of unconstitutionalism did to South Africa, and is now the home of the Constitution that now secures South Africans’ rights.  AFROPUNK chose South Africa because of “the South African Constitution, the possibilities, the beauty, the creativity”.

It is well-known that Constitution Hill was historically a place of degradation. Prisoners were compelled to take part in the “tauza dance”, to ensure that they had nothing hidden in their rectums. The prison was closed in 1983, “leaving a scar on Joburg’s metropolis – a bleak reminder of our painful past”. But now a different, lighter kind of dancing happens on the site which has been creatively transformed into a human rights precinct and is now the home of justice.  The South African people have now reclaimed the space as their own and as a site for their own creative activism and civic engagement. Constitution Hill is therefore a natural site for AFROPUNK to host the first-ever AFROPUNK festival on the continent.

AFROPUNK Joburg

It goes without saying that the Afropunk community is by far the best dressed community in the whole world but we need to start looking beyond the surface and start working together on how WE THE PEOPLE can come together to strengthen our dear community. I guess shared ideals and aesthetic take a little time to cross over from concept to reality.

While I always appreciate a line-up knowing it is curated that way for a particular reason, I do sincerely hope that at the next Afropunk in Africa, African artists make up the bulk of the line up considering the amount of music coming out of Africa, a whole wide continenent.

The first day of Afropunk was a gigantic myth, the weather turned so quickly and very furiously. There was thunder, lighting and a juicy hailstorm that left everyone running for cover. The thing about Africa is that magic, the ancestors, spirituality all goes. The way the storm came down would have had anyone feeling like that was not the day for it but WE THE PEOPLE were not defeated. Some of us left while others stayed knowing they full well paid for the ticket.

A Hail storm always make close ranks with spiritual reflections. Most people got the feeling that the ancestors were not happy with the arrangement. The thunderous rain compelled most people to reconsider the ingredients that brewed this perfect storm. I’m sure it was with a little prayer in their hearts too. By Day 2, the storm had cleared, we welcomed the New Year with half of a yellow sun and the moon also made an appearance too.

Afropunk Joburg

I like to go to Afropunk because it’s a great opportunity to see my customers, my friends that live in different parts of the world, make new ones and work on my content projects – I’m currently directing a film on Afrobeats and the culture. find out more – mariette@catface.me

I have never been to South Africa before but many of my friends have, they all encouraged me to make the trip. Despite all the negative press it gets, I was not discouraged to go, not after Afropunk announced it was going there for the first time. Johannesburg is a dangerious city, one is not to be discouraged but to be very careful and take note of all the safety precautions (see some top tips at the end of the post).

My friends at ONCE were so kind to have me at their Jozi hotel, Once in Joburg. The team is made up of artists, creatives and all round amazing people from around the world. I honestly did not expect this level of customer service in life especially not after two weeks in Nigerian hotels.

Reserve your Afropunk spot - beds are filling up for this New Year! 

JOZI SAFETY TIPS

– Don’t walk around with your phone out

– Avoid walking around alone, always go out in group

-Do not carry large sums of cash or phones where it is easily accesible

– Uber is your best friend, use it to go door to door

– Have fun but be aware of your surrounds

-Listen to your instincts, if you do not feel comfortable, make an exit.