Music and art collide at 'African Futures'

What might various African futures look like? How do artists and academics imagine this future? And what forms and narratives of science fiction are currently being developed in Africa? From 28 to 31 October 2015, the Goethe-Institut’s African Futures festival will address these and other questions with a wide range of events throughout Johannesburg, as well as at partner festivals in Lagos and Nairobi.

Keziah Jones on the cover of his latest album 'Captain Rugged'.
Keziah Jones on the cover of his latest album 'Captain Rugged'.

More than 50 international guests have been invited to African Futures, including Nnedi Okorafor (Nigeria), Jean-Pierre Bekolo (Cameroon), Spoek Mathambo (SA), Faustin Linyekula (DRC) and Achille Mbembe (Cameroon/SA). They will be exploring visions of the future, following potential narratives and artistic expression in music, literature, fine arts, performance, film and various digital formats. Concurrent interdisciplinary festivals will be taking place in Lagos and Nairobi.

The festival kicks off in Johannesburg on Wednesday 28 October with a conversation between award-winning writers Nnedi Okorafor (Nigeria/USA), Lauren Beukes (South Africa), Leif Randt (Germany) and Binyavanga Wainaina (Kenya). The programme culminates in a futuristic concert at the Alexander Theatre in Braamfontein. Music lovers are invited to join for this closing party of African Futures on Saturday 31 October from 9pm till late. German-Ghanaian-Portuguese collective Gato Preto will play alongside Nigerian musician Keziah Jones, with South African Spoek Mathambo presenting a brand new set of music in collaboration with yet-to-be-announced Mozambican musicians. Each of them will be featured artists will be performing music that relates to the theme of African Futures.

Nigerian singer-songwriter and guitarist Keziah Jones, who accompanied US star Lenny Kravitz on his world tour, will present music from his latest album Captain Rugged, which was accompanied by a graphic novel, about the adventures of an African superhero. Gato Preto, the German-based music duo of Gata Misteriosa (Mozambique/Portugal) and Lee Bass (Ghana/Germany), will perform material from their Mysterious Black Cat project and their new album, to be released in October 2015. Tickets for the event will be R120.

Spoek Mathambo, a prominent South African musician, DJ and film-maker, will present his vision of Afro-futurism with a new collaborative project called Batuk with fast-rising South African DJ/producer Aero Manyelo and with vocalists/artists Nandi Ndlovu and Carla Fonseca. Spoek explained: “The central function of Batuk is to proudly destroy xenophobic sentiments in South Africa by bridging different African countries based on shared and exchanged rhythm culture and language. At the African Futures festival, we want to interrogate/criticize and expand on ideas of futurism in African music. We are working on a collaboration with a traditional music collective from the Inhambane area in Mozambique, with the aim to create and record an original set of music, which we will perform live as part of the African Futures programme.

"Paradigms of futurism are usually (if not always) based on foreign standards, ie. the most futuristic/progressive is the least African. We aim to create a live suite of music to challenge and break through these ideas, as well as build new models of collaboration between urban and rural musicians in the African context. Our future as African musicians lies in recovering, exploring and expanding on ancient music ideas as well as re-balancing hierarchies in how modern music is analyzed and critiqued,” added Spoek.

“Much thought-provoking work has been produced when artists engage with ideas around ‘future’,” says Lien Heidenreich-Seleme, Head of Cultural Programmes at the Goethe-Institut South Africa. “We are excited to see our festival guests build bridges between the arts, technology and critical discourse, and reflect on how contemporary realities in Africa potentially provide answers to questions yet to come.”

Besides exhibitions, a film series and a virtual reality workshop, the programme will also feature a live video conference connecting Johannesburg with São Paulo and New York – two cities whose cultural production is strongly shaped by African influences. During the run up to the festival, writers Lindokuhle Nkosi (Cape Town) and Percy Zvomuya (Harare/Johannesburg) will explore some of the many facets of African Futures on the Tumblr, including Black Feminism, Indigenous Knowledge Systems and Knowledge Production in Africa. The Tumblr also features the festival programme, curatorial board and participants of the festival.

The African Futures media launch takes place on Friday 9 October from 10:30am at the Goethe-Institut, 119 Jan Smuts Avenue, Parkwood. To RSVP or for more information, contact Benjamin Keuffel at

Win concert tickets!

Spoek Mathambo’s latest project brings him together with Aero Manyelo, Carla Fonseca and Nandi Ndlovu. As a collective, Batuk, they will perform new music for the first time at the Goethe-Institut’s African Futures Music Concert and Party in Johannesburg next weekend. Stand a chance to win two tickets for this party! All you have to do is find the profile of one of the above-mentioned artists here on Music In Africa and email the link with your name and contact details to


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