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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 Disciples and 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.

Interview
Photo: Benoit Peverelli

Interview: Oumou Sangaré Proves Why She's the Songbird of Wassoulou

We caught up with the Malian singer to talk about her new Acoustic album, longevity as an artist, and growing up in Mali.

When Oumou Sangaré tells me freedom is at her core, I am not surprised. If you listen to her discography, you'll be hard-pressed to find a song that doesn't center or in some way touch on women's rights or child abuse. The Grammy award-winning Malian singer has spent a significant part of her career using her voice to fight for the rights of women across Africa and the world, a testimony to this is her naming her debut studio album Moussolou, meaning Woman. The album, a pure masterpiece that solidified Oumou's place amongst the greats and earned her the name 'Songbird of Wassoulou,' was a commercial success selling over 250,000 records in Africa and would in turn go on to inspire other singers across the world.

On her latest body of work Acoustic, a reworking of her critically acclaimed 2017 album Mogoya, Oumou Sangaré proves how and why she earned her accolades. The entirety of the 11-track album was recorded within two days in the Midi Live studio in Villetaneuse in 'live' conditions—with no amplification, no retakes or overdubs, no headphones. Throughout the album, using her powerful and raw voice that has come to define feminism in Africa and shaped opinions across the continent, Oumou boldly addresses themes like loss, polygamy and female circumcision.

We caught up with the Malian singer at the studio she is staying while in quarantine to talk about her new album, longevity as an artist, and growing up in Mali.

This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.

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