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.

Music
(Youtube)

Watch Burna Boy's Down-to-Earth Video For "Common Person"

The Nigerian superstar shares a memorable video for "Common Person," a creative visual presentation of Nigerian humanity amid the ebbs and flows of day-to-day life.


In Burna Boy's heart-warming music video for "Common Person," he shares a more vulnerable, likable version of himself that is often overshadowed by the limelight. The music video for the track off his critically acclaimed album, Love, Damini, showcases the global artist in an extremely down-to-earth and heart-warming manner.

Burna's new video further pushes the message of the song "Common Person": that one person is not better than the next, and despite his superstardom, he is a common person who has never forgotten his roots. In the music video, Burna can be seen interacting with residents of a working-class neighborhood, and partaking in every-day things that happen in several Nigerian working-class neighborhoods, including cooking and carrying buckets of water into the home. In several shots, the superstar is captured helping residents with car trouble kickstart their vehicle.

Ever since the release of Love, Damini, Burna Boy has continued to garner more success and international acclaim. Recently, he was nominated for Best Global Music Performance for the Gold RIAA certified hit, “Last, Last” and “Best Global Music Album” for his sixth studio album, Love, Damini at the upcoming 65th Annual Grammy Awards. Love, Damini, was also selected as a The New York Times’ Critics Pick , and described by OkayAfrica as "a story of victory, love, loss, pain and strength over a number of colorful musical influences." The music video for "Common Person" is a continuation of that story. Watch the video below.

Watch Burna Boy's music video for "Common Person"

Music
Image via Sheila Afari PR/Bongeziwe Mabandla.

The Best South African Songs Out Right Now

Featuring Bongeziwe Mabandla, Sjava, Tyla, Blxckie, Msaki, AKA x Khuli Chana, and more

Here are the South African songs and music videos that caught our attention this month.

For more music lists, check out our Songs You Need to Hear This Week roundups and our regional monthly lists for Nigeria, Ghana, and East Africa.

Keep reading...Show less
Spotlight
Image courtesy of Umaimah

Spotlight: Animator Umaimah Is Here To Romanticize Your Life

We spoke with the Nigerian digital visual artist about inspiration being everywhere, and in every thing.

In our 'Spotlight' series, we highlight the work of photographers, visual artists, multimedia artists, and more who are producing vibrant, original work.

In our latest piece, we spotlight Nigerian digital visual artist and designer Umaimah. The animator spent her childhood enveloped in the colorful, effervescent world of female-centered fantasy shows, and now uses her craft to recapture the very essence. With a strong emphasis on her identity as a Black African woman and the romanticization of the mundane, Umaimah has manifested the dreams of her younger self as she weaves little Black girls into her narrative animations. The artist's fascination with blending African fashion with ballerina attire has created a beautiful example of the 'Black girl joy' that many young African girls could only dream of. Staying true to her visions has boded well, as Umaimah's career has taken her to animation studios for Disney, Cartoon Network, Warner Brothers, Nickelodeon, and more.

We spoke with Umaimah about making your art understood without dialogue and the power that comes in "looking at the world through rose-colored glasses".

Responses have been edited for length and clarity.

Can you tell us about the project that first inspired you to create?

There wasn't a particular project that inspired me to start creating, but rather a specific type of animated content I grew up watching that featured fantastic female characters. Stuff like Totally Spies, Winx, and Barbie movies heavily pushed me towards animation. Their influence is clear in my art, with how I use colors and draw my characters.

What are the central themes in your work?

When I look at my work as a singular piece, two things that stick out to me are the importance of identity and the romanticization of everyday life.

Usually, when people hear romance, they think of romantic relationships, but I'm talking about romance as an idealistic way of living. It's about the beauty in everyday things like getting coffee, taking a bath, or wearing your favorite outfit. These moments can be romantic to me; I show that in my work with my use of colors, lighting, or with the expression and pose of my subject. A quote similar to this theme is, "looking at the world through rose-colored glasses." Identity has also been a central theme in my art, where I specifically want my subjects to be Black African girls. Our families didn't raise many of us to see that we can live our lives in a 'romantic' way; instead, there is a constant emphasis on being tough and struggling. While that's OK for some, I want more African girls to know it's not our only option and we can live life like a movie's main character.

Where do you seek inspiration, and how does it find you?

One thing about being an artist is finding inspiration all around you, even when you're not looking for it. I've found inspiration in burnout or during a creative block. Everything around me has inspired me, like nature (especially flowers), my culture, books I've read, the music I love, and the relationships in my life. Recently, I've been inspired by both African and ballerina fashion. The juxtaposition of tulles and soft hues in ballet and the intricate geometric designs from Africa create visually exciting pieces and compositions in my art.

What do you believe sets African artists apart from the rest of the world?

A lot separates us from other artists; apart from being the only ones who can authentically capture the African experience in our work, we also carry the responsibility of presenting Africa to the world. As more African countries develop, more Africans can see art as a realistic career, which means that we get to have the chance to control our narratives more than we could in the past. With some of us coming from communities that hardly encourage artistic skills, we have no option but to mentor and teach ourselves everything about art, design, and creative thinking. I think that's pretty remarkable and resilient.

Can you talk about your use of colors and accessories?

Colors and accessories play a huge role in my work. They both serve as storytelling tools. As an artist and designer in animation, people should be able to interpret the story of any piece you create by just looking at it. "Story is king," as many animation professionals say. Color plays a role here because specific colors portray certain moods, which tells you half the story. It's why I prioritize it in my work. I need my art to be understood even without dialogue. Props and accessories do the same thing, but specifically for the characters in my art, I make it so anyone can quickly tell their personalities from their accessories.

What's something you wish someone told you at the beginning of your journey?

There's so much I wish I had known when I started chasing art and design as a career. I'll share two to start:

I wish I knew that it was okay not to be perfect while starting out and that it's okay to ask for help from your peers. I also wish I had been more patient with my artistic growth. I used to beat myself up for not being as good as people who had been in the animation field for five years. I still catch myself slipping down that path, and now can consciously talk myself out of it. I was rushing to find my style and voice because I felt I needed to do that to be as good as other artists who had established careers and seemed to have it together. Now, being friends with some of those artists, I've learned they've had their hard times too. Comparing myself at that point didn't benefit me or my work, but it slowed me down.

Image courtesy of the artist

Artwork by Umaimah

News Brief
(Youtube)

Asake Kicks Off His Year With New Single 'Yoga'

The Nigerian superstar shares his first single of 2023.


Ahmed Ololade Asake, popularly known as Asake, drops a new single for 2023 called "Yoga." The "Mr. Money" crooner shared the single along with a vibrant music video which depicts a deep, spirited, message that is expertly interwoven into the the song, and is primarily sung in the Yoruba language. According to Asake, the song is about peace and zen.

“The song is about minding my business and guarding my peace so no one can disrupt it,” says Asake. The Nigerian artist, who has consistently been releasing hits ever since he became a mainstream sensation, took to social media in the early hours of January 30th, 2023, shared a snippet of the new record with his followers.

The music video, which was directed by celebrated cinematographer TG Omori, boasts of colorful imagery and was shot in Dakar, Senegal. Last year was a highly-successful year for the YBNL signee, with us claiming that 2022 Was the Year of Asake, and stating that the singer's "clear-cut domination of the year was without a doubt."

According to that previous OkayAfrica essay, the Nigerian megastar has historically drawn inspiration from street-hop sonic influencers like DaGrin, Lord Of Ajasa, and Olamide, who poured the hardships in their lives into their music. In "Yoga," Asake uses his signature sonic blend of Fuji music, merged with spiritual affirmations.

Following his debut album Mr. Money With The Vibe, Asake set the tone for a streak of musical success that has been celebrated by Okay Africa's curated music lists, including Best Nigerian Songs of 2022 and Best Afrobeats Songs of 2022.

Watch the scintillating music video for "Yoga" below.

Listen to Asake "Yoga" below

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