Events

14 Cultural Events You Can't Miss this December in South Africa

OkayAfrica's guide to must-see events during South Africa's festive season.

South Africans will tell you that December is not just a month, it's an entire lifestyle. From beginning to end, it's about being immersed in a ton of activity with friends and family as well as any new folk you meet along the way. Whether you're looking to turn up to some good music or watch some provocative theater, our guide to just 14 cultural events happening in South Africa this December, has something for everyone.


Abantu Book Festival

South Africa's biggest book festival for Black people is back this year and the lineup of writers is spectacular. From Zakes Mda and Mohale Mashigo to the likes of Chris Abani, Mona Eltahawy and others, it promises to be yet another genuinely engaging event for the Black literary community. Read more about the event here.

Currently ongoing and will run until the 8th of December 2019 at the Eyethu Lifestyle Center in Soweto, Johannesburg. Entry is R20.

Corona Sunsets Festival

If you're looking for a good time and equally good vibes, then this one's for you. There will be a ton of talent performing at this music festival including Shimza, DJ Maphorisa, Kabza De Small, Prince Kaybee, Jazzi Disciplesand several others.

Will take place on the 7th of December at the Ground in Muldersdrift, Johannesburg. Purchase tickets here.

​Mzanzi Pride

Via Flickr Creative Commons.

This annual event brings together members of the LGBT community and their allies to raise awareness around the issues facing the marginalized community. The march will begin at 11 A.M. and there will be an exhibition in honor of the late gay activist, Simon Nkoli, among other activities.

Will take place on the 7th of December at Mary Fitzgerald Square, Johannesburg.

Revolt and Evolve: Theater Activism Against Gender-based Violence

This year has been a particularly difficult one for South African women as gender-based violence, rape and femicide have all been on a sharp rise. This event will feature artists such as Nelisiwe Xaba, Kwanele Finch, Joseph Komani among several others who will use art as part of a collective effort to raise awareness around the abuse of both women and children.

Currently ongoing and will run until the 10th of December at the South African State Theater, Pretoria. Most events are free although those with a cost can be paid for at the specific event.

The Lion King Live in Concert

This year saw the innovative remake of the beloved Disney classic. If you're still looking to indulge in the nostalgia for just a little longer, then you're in luck. You can watch the live version of The Lion King on the stage at the Sun Arena.

Will take place from the 10th to the 12th of December at Sun Arena at Time Square Casino, Pretoria. Purchase tickets here.

​Black Coffee at Shimmy Beach Club

Join talented South African DJ Black Coffee as he carries out his summer residency at Shimmy Beach for the fourth time. With the internationally renowned "king of house music", the event promises to be an epic time of great music and equally great vibes.

Will take place from the 13th December to the 5th of January 2020 at Shimmy Beach Club, V&A Waterfront, Cape Town. Purchase tickets here.

Music is King Concert

Prepare to have the time of your life at this epic music festival. This time around the event will be hosted in both Johannesburg and Durban and will feature local talent including AKA, Jazzi Disciples, Moonchild Sanelly, Black Coffee and more.

Will take place in Johannesburg on the 14th of December at the Ticketpro Dome and on the 15th of December at the Kings Park Outer Fields in Durban. Purchase tickets here.

Nubian Music Festival

This music festival boasts a spectacular lineup of Black South African talent including Amanda Black, Ringo Madlingozi, Thandiswa Mazwai, Lira, Mafikizolo, The Soil and so many more. All we can say is that you can't afford to miss this one!

Will take place on the 15th of December the Eagle Waters Resort, Hartebeespoort, Johannesburg. Purchase tickets here.

Ulundi Maskandi Music Festival

If you thought it's just strictly hip-hop and house music, think again. For all the maskandi fans out there, this one is definitely for you and will feature the likes of Thokozani Langa, Khuzani Mpungose, Igcokama Elisha and several others.

Will take place on the 21st of December of December at the Multipurpose Open Space Ulundi, Zululand. Purchase tickets here.

Ekurhuleni Jazz Festival

What's a festive season without some jazz? If you're looking for some soul-soothing music and mellow vibes then the Ekurhuleni Jazz Festival is where you need to be this December. Enjoy performances by both pioneering and contemporary jazz artists.

Will take place on the 21st of December of December at the Big Top Arena, Carnival City, Johannesburg. Purchase tickets here.

The Lion and the Lamb Musical

The incomparable Dr John Kani takes to the stage in this Christmas special. After a decade since this musical play was originally created by Kani and Barney Simon, Kani reprises his lead role for a performance that vibrantly portrays the life of Jesus.

Will take place on the 22nd of December at the Market Theater, Johannesburg. Purchase tickets here.

Shimza’s One Man Show 2019

DJ Shimza is back with the 11th edition of his grossly popular music show. The musical event promises to be nothing short of phenomenal as the seasoned musician brings his A-game.

Will take place on the 25th of December at Mehlareng Stadium, Johannesburg. Purchase tickets here.

Lady Zamar’s Jingle Jam Party

It's been a spectacular year for Lady Zamar on the music front following the release of her sophomore album Monarch. Now the house/dance singer-songwriter plans to end of the year by bringing the Christmas spirit to her fans.

Will take place on the 25th of December at Sebesong Lifestyle 0411, Johannesburg.Purchase tickets here.

Afropunk

This year's edition of Afropunk promises to be even better than last year's. Solange, Miguel, Masego, Goldlink, Blinky Bill, Sho Madjozi, Burna Boy and several other local and international music heavyweights are set to perform at the music festival. It's the perfect way to usher in the new year if you ask us. Read more about the event here.

Will take place on the 30th to 31st of December at Constitutional Hill, Johannesburg. Purchase tickets here.

Style
Photo Credit: Victoire Douniama

This Photographer is Capturing the Femininity of Congo’s La Sape Movement

Once a male-centric domain, women in Congo are disturbing the gender boundaries of La Sape, and photojournalist Victoire Douniama wants them recognized.

Even though the African fashion industry is finally getting the recognition it deserves, many under-the-surface subcultures that foster community and creativity expression still exist. One of those subcultures thrive in the Republic of Congo, where Congolese dandy culture, called La Sape (La Societe des Ambianceurs et Personnes Elegantes), finds provenance.

Its history dates back to the early 1920s and 1930s during the period of the French colonial era. Notably, it was a form of protest against French colonialism. La Sape or Sapologie is a movement of unique complexity. It is more than just a catwalk of sapeurs who dress ostentatiously in colorful suits but represents the socioeconomic and political knot that ties the population.

Messani Grace in blue tux

Messani Grace, in a tuxedo. She says: "My husband is a sapeur as well and he is part of the main reason I feel confident to do this because he supports me alot and teaches me all I need to know about fashion."

Photo Credit: Victoire Douniama

Since its inception, La Sape has had a masculine presence. Although women showed interest in La Sape, it was strictly reserved for men. Congolese women were expected to wear African print dresses and be housekeepers. Despite the challenges and backlash, a group of Congolese women kept challenging the status quo, fighting for their style of expression. Today, hundreds of women have joined the movement, dressing in suits, tuxedos, and bow ties.

Victoire Douniama wearing white

As a photojournalist, Victoire Douniama centers her project on female sapeurs because there was a gap in representation by other photographers.

Photo Credit: Victoire Douniama

Documenting these women is Congolese photojournalist Victoire Douniama. Raised in Johannesburg, South Africa, Douniama has always been inclined towards art from a young age. She was inspired by her older sister’s sketchbook. “I was so fascinated by her art and her drawing talent," Douniama told OkayAfrica. "So visual arts has always been a passion of mine." Douniama's gift for drawing was evident by fifth grade and ,during her adolescent years, she developed a passion for photography.

As she settled back in the Republic of Congo, she was struck by the lack of representation of the nation in the media which mostly depicted negative aspects of the country. For Douniama, centering her craft in her native country is important, as it not only represents her roots but also it's an opportunity to use her passion to showcase the rich natural resources and cultures of the Congo. The neighboring country, Democratic Republic of the Congo, has also been a stage for Douniama to practice her work alongside various NGOs.

\u200bTsiba Mary Jane wears blue suit

Tsiba Mary Jane works as a thrift cloth vendor at the market of Mikalou in Brazzaville. He says: “I use my hair as a form of identity, as you can tell my hair is colored green, yellow, and red. Which represents the Congolese flag."

Photo Credit: Victoire Douniama

Her tenacity is certainly unmatched as she navigates her craft in a country faced with various economic challenges, especially since the pandemic. Being an independent photographer under such hurdles can be discouraging for some, but her portfolio speaks for itself. When asked about her secret to success, she said: “You have to develop your own style and clients will hire if it corresponds to their brand."

Of the various projects under Douniama's belt is her photo journal, Les Saupeuse du Congo. For Douniama, La Sape is more than just a fashion statement. She recognizes the political elements of the visuals. The emergence of female sapeurs is revolutionary and, without a doubt, impressive.

“It originated as a political protest during the colonial era and a movement that called for change in Congo Brazzaville and the DRC," Douniama said. “It challenges the conservative role of women in Congo and it normalizes freedom of expression, which is vital for Congolese people to become more open-minded."

Kourissa and her son Okili Dojido

A portrait of Kourissa and her son Okili Dojido at a funeral outside a home at “La tchiemé.”

Photo Credit: Victoire Douniama

As a photojournalist, Douniama centers her project on female sapeurs because there was a gap in representation by other photographers. “I wanted to give the ladies a space to share their experiences and what exactly inspired them to join this movement, and how people within their societal circle responded to this," she said. "Because at some point, this conservative movement was only reserved for men."

This photo project has given her a look into the dynamic of La Saupeuse and their self-fashioning practices. The exuberant sapeuse is in her mid '30s to early '50s. She’s a wife, mother, and can be found in various walks of life as a market vendor, police officer, thrift clothes vendor, or government official. She carves her hair into an undercut or taper fade, with touches of different dye, borrowing masculine-considered accouterments and accessories like smoking pipes, hats, and umbrellas.

In colorful suave suits, these women are overturning gender norms, which require them to dress in traditional “lady-like” attire known as Liputta — a bold move for a conservative country as Congo. For this reason, regardless of how liberal much of society has become, some women are scorned, discriminated against, or even receive backlash.

So, can Les Saupeuse translate into a social upgrade for the lives of Congolese women? As the world continues to interrogate patriarchal standards, it’s a movement that is still forging its identity within the culture. “Many people did not think women can do all of this," Douniama said. "That is why they mostly wanted women to be reserved and submissive."

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