London festival to bring African music into focus

The second annual Africa On The Square festival will on 10 October bring into focus African music as artists from Ghana, Tanzania and Senegal perform at Trafalgar Square in London, UK. Launched in 2014, the festival proved to be a huge hit, with 20 000 people turning out to enjoy the celebration of African culture. In 2015, Africa On The Square, curated by Open The Gate, looks set to be an even bigger success, with live music, DJs, dancers, food stalls and an African market providing the highlights of the day.

Uk-based Ethiopian band, Krar Collective. Photo:
Uk-based Ethiopian band, Krar Collective. Photo:

Among the African acts set to perform at the event are Ghana's Afla Sackey & AfrikBawantu, which was formed in 2007 by Ghanaian vocalist and djembe drummer Afla Sackey. AfrikBawantu is a 10-piece, London-based orchestra that fuses traditional Ghanaian music with sizzling Afrobeat grooves. Complete with fast, animated horn sections and heavy basslines, AfrikBawantu boasts a unique blend of vibrant African rhythms and brings a whole new definition to the Afro-Funk genre. The band released its EP Noko Hewon in 2013 to critical acclaim and has since been nominated in the World Music Network’s charts.

Tanzania's Saidi Kanda and Mvula Mandondo will stage a performance that is a concoction of Tanzanian village roots, urban rumba and Afro-Caribbean influences, blending traditional and modern instruments. Boasting a versatile range of musical styles, Mvula Mandondo pride themselves on blending unique styles and sounds that listeners have never heard before. The group’s 2013 album Ambush was a collaboration between Kanda and musician/producer Edward Shearer. It featured songs written and composed by Kanda and brought to life the traditional music of the Ndengeleko and Manyema people of Central East Africa – a tradition steeped in songs of deep emotion – while also featuring Caribbean, Latin, African and European influences.

London-based Ethiopian collective Krar Collective will serve up a colourful feast of Ethiopian grooves. Led by Temesgen Zeleke, a former student of Ethiojazz legend Mulatu Astatke, Krar Collective will perform a rootsy yet contemporary take on traditional music from Ethiopia, complete with otherworldly sounds and driven by hypnotic rhythms. Their debut album Ethiopia Super Krar stayed true to their sound. It was described as a record “rooted in tradition and soaked with attitude”.

Born in Guinea-Bissau, Tony Dudu an important musical figure in the emerging palop sound for over two decades will together with the Gumbe Jazz provide a great fusion of West African rythms that are laced with Latin Grooves and South African rhythms jazz. In 2007, Dudu moved to the UK with the hope of making new musical connections and two years later, he formed The Gumbe Jazz. Fusing West African rhythms with Latin grooves, South African rhythms and jazz, the collective is sure to make you move.

Senegalese Abdoulaye Samb & Minnjiaraby collective and UK-based Nigerian Afro-beats singer Moelogo are some of the other artists expected to provide African music to the festival-goers.

Organised by the Mayor of London to mark Black History Month (October), the event will be hosted by Esther Alade and Usifu Jalloh (aka the Cowfoot Prince), while Capital XTRA DJ Abrantee will be on the decks. For more information check out the event website or the video below.



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