Johannesburg marks New Year’s Eve with debut Afropunk Festival

A kaleidoscope of firecrackers, loud music and rapturous cheers went up the Johannesburg skyline when the clock struck midnight on Monday, January 1, 2018. The huge number of revelers who had turned up at Constitution Hill, Braamfontein, Johannesburg earlier in the day and had waited for that moment at the Afropunk Fest Jo’burg cheered, hugged, kissed, danced and cartwheeled in celebration of New Year. It was the second day of the international music festival that was debuting in Africa – and Johannesburg in particular – and the scores of people who had attended and had enjoyed themselves at all that the festival had to offer had waited in anticipation for this hour and responded appropriately. There was performance after performance from some of the known artistes who play rock, funk, punk and alternative music as well as local and international DJs. They all came together to give a show to the many who had gathered for the experience. For almost 12 hours the various artistes were working the audience with different renditions of different genres of the punk vein to a crescendo at 10 seconds to midnight when the MC started counting down in unison with the audience to the hour. The headline act for Afropunk Jo’burg 2017, Solange Knowles, announced that she would not be able to attend just one day before the event would take place on health grounds. In a lengthy Instagram post she noted that it was difficult for her to say what she had in mind. “Wrote, deleted and re wrote this like 5 times… Still not sure what exactly or how much I want to share…However it’s so important to me for the people in South Africa, a place that has tremendous meaning to me and that has given me SO SO MUCH, to know why I won’t be performing at Afro Punk this NYE.” She concluded by adding that “I give you my ABSOLUTE WORD I will come back with AfroPunk and deliver this performance… it is so extremely important to me to connect with the people who have so closely inspired me in so many ways.” After several complaints by ticket holders following Solange’s no-show announcement, the organisers released a statement to apologise to those who bought tickets. “We only learned that Solange would not be attending this year’s festival within the last day,” part of the statement read. “We value her as an artist and above all as a human being and understand that her health is paramount.” This seemingly bad news and a hailstorm that lasted for almost two hours and almost ended the show on Day One didn’t dampen the spirits of either the artistes or those who turned up to express themselves at this international festival that originated in New York in 2005.

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For the two days artistes and DJs such as Anderson .Paak and The Free Nationals, Laura Mvula, King Tha vs BLK JKS, Theo Parrish, Black Motion, Okzharp&MantheRibane, Blitz The Ambassador, Nakhane, TCIYF, Spoek Mathambo and Petite Noir rocked the audience. Others include The Brother Moves On, JojoAbot, DOOKOOM, Gods Sons & Daughter, Thebe, ShoMadjozi, Stiff Pap, DJ LAG & Friends, Rudeboyz, Kid Fonque, DJ Doowap, The Alvhinator, ThaCutt, Urban Village, Nonku Phiri, Radio 123, Automatic Live, DJ Kenzhero, Anais B, Just Themba and Pussy Party DJs. Th Afropunk festival was created from a documentary by James Spooner which explored the lives of black people in the punk culture and it has been going on for more than a decade. Though it started in Brooklynn, New York, the organizers have included Atlanta, Paris, and London. Thus Johannesburg is the first city in Africa to host it. The organisers describe AFROPUNK as “an influential community of young, gifted people of all backgrounds who speak through music, art, film, comedy, fashion and more”. “Remaining at the core of its mission are the punk principles of DIY aesthetics, radical thought and social non-conformity. AFROPUNK is a voice for the unwritten, unwelcome and unheard-of.” By Francis Doku|| Ghana]]>