Okayafrica is Hosting Mumford & Sons' 'Johannesburg' South African Experience in NYC

The exhibition will explore the making of the new album Johannesburg featuring Baaba Maal, The Very Best, and Beatenberg.

Mumford & Sons and Gentlemen of the Road are pleased to announce the launch of a free pop-up exhibition at Okayafrica’s Okay Space in New York this summer.

Launching on the 14th of June, the pop-up celebrates the culture and beauty of South Africa, a country the band toured and fell in love with for the first time earlier this year, and puts a spotlight on some of South Africa’s best artists and photographers.

Mumford & Sons: “We had such an amazing time touring and recording in South Africa that we wanted to share our experiences and shine a light on the vibrant, creative culture we have grown to love out there. The appetite for live music is huge and the youth culture is exploding with energy and rejuvenation, so we want to showcase that.”

The pop-up will follow the release of the band’s ‘Johannesburg' mini-album with Baaba Maal, The Very Best, and Cape Town’s favourites, Beatenberg on the June 17. It was recorded at the South African Broadcasting Centre in Johannesburg over 48 hours back in February 2016, and book-ended by six wild, sold-out shows of the country in rarely used sites. It was an incredible introduction to the country, and one the band are passionate about sharing with their fans.

The exhibition will display behind-the-scenes photography by the band and never before seen documentary footage from their tour.

A full daily program of events for the exhibition will be issued in June, featuring intimate live performances from Beatenberg, South African wine tasting, DJ sets and a host of live music and an evening of film featuring work of acclaimed South African directors, curated by Johannesburg independent cinema The Bioscope.

"The pop-up will be open to fans through Mumford & Sons’ sold out headline shows at Forest Hills Stadium on June 16 and 17, and on until the 19th of June.

Johannesburg—a South African Experience at the Okay Space, Brooklyn is hosted in association with Okayafrica and South African Tourism.

Join the Facebook event and see the full pop-up schedule below. Artists on display include Ted Dwane, Marcus Haney, Chris Maas, Ty Johnson, David East, Kristin-Lee Moolman, David Tshabalala, Dahlia Maubane, Andile Buka, Darren Gwynn and Paul Samuels.

The exhibition is open for viewing from 1:00 to 5:00 p.m., with the events below running from 6:00 to 10:00 p.m.

RSVP here. The events are first come first serve.

Check out the full details on each day below.

Tuesday, June 14.  6pm-10pm.


Sets from Safiyya Quintilian aka Funafuji and Xander Ferreira.

Wednesday, June 15. 6pm-10pm.


A night of musical discovery and stories from DJs, musicians, artists, and writers including Rich Medina, Will CalhounSinkane, Safy-Hallan Farah, and Zandy Shejay. They will take us on an interactive journey through the African or African-inspired music that has influenced them the most.

Our storytellers will use personal anecdotes and snippets of tracks to illuminate what sounds have been most formative and inspirational in their journeys as creators.

Thursday, June 16. 6pm-10pm.


40th anniversary of YOUTH DAY. A South African holiday commemorating the 1976 student uprisings in Soweto.

We’ll host a screening of “The People Versus the Rainbow Nation,” a documentary by Lebogang Rasethaba that looks at the current student uprisings, and how they link historically.

Friday, June 17.  7pm-10pm.


Live acoustic sets from Abena Koomson (original cast member of the Broadway musical FELA!) and Sierra Leonean star Bajah from Bajah and the Dry Eye Crew.

7pm Gallery Opens

8pm Abena Koomson

9pm Bajah

Saturday, June 18. 


Make music from found sounds around the area with Freshlyground’s Kyla-Rose Smith and emcees from the township of Nyanga in Cape Town, South Africa.


Sunday, June 19. 


The Bioscope is curating an afternoon of short films including “Love The One You Love” by Jenna Bass. The Bioscope is the only truly independent cinema in Johannesburg screening local content, documentaries and cult classics.

Mumford & Sons headline Forest Hills Stadium, Queens on the 16th and 17th June. Support comes from Raury (16) and Børns (17), with guest appearances from  Baaba Maal and Beatenberg.


6 Samples From 'Éthiopiques' in Hip-Hop

A brief history of Ethio-jazz cultural exchange featuring songs by Nas & Damian Marley, K'naan, Madlib and more.

This article was originally published on OkayAfrica in March, 2017. We're republishing it here for our Crossroads series.

It's 2000 something. I'm holed up in my bedroom searching for samples to chop up on Fruity Loops. While deep into the free-market jungle of Amazon's suggested music section, I stumble across a compilation of Ethiopian music with faded pictures of nine guys jamming in white suit jackets. I press play on the 30 second sample.

My mind races with the opportunities these breakbeats offered a budding beat maker. Catchy organs, swinging horns, funky guitar riffs, soulful melodies and grainy and pained vocalists swoon over love lost and gained. Sung in my mother tongue—Amharic—this was a far cry from the corny synthesizer music of the 1990s that my parents played on Saturday mornings. I could actually sample this shit.

The next day, I burn a CD and pop it into my dad's car. His eyes light up when the first notes ooze out of the speakers. “Where did you get this?" He asks puzzlingly. “The internet," I respond smiling.

In the 1970s my dad was one of thousands of high school students in Addis Ababa protesting the monarchy. The protests eventually created instability which lead to a coup d'état. The monarchy was overthrown and a Marxist styled military junta composed of low ranking officers called the Derg came to power. The new regime subsequently banned music they deemed to be counter revolutionary. When the Derg came into power, Amha Eshete, a pioneering record producer and founder of Ahma Records, fled to the US and the master recordings of his label's tracks somehow ended up in a warehouse in Greece.

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