Afropunk Retrospective

Here are AFRICA IS NOW staffers’ stand-out moments from the biggest celebration of African and black culture of the year that was 2018 – all captured through the lenses of Anthony Bila and David Kambwiri.

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Jean Luc Niyonzima

‘I went to Afropunk expecting to have a good time and meet some interesting people, but as a first-time attendee nothing could have prepared me for the abundance of colour, culture and charisma that is the lifeblood of the Afropunk ethos.’ ‘Afropunk Joburg was a celebration of the African and black individual in all their glory.

Everyone present understood that it was through the acknowledgement, respect and admiration of the unequivocal uniqueness of each attendee that we all could celebrate as a whole. This message was echoed through the banners boldly displayed across the event venue that stated: ‘NO SEXISM; NO RACISM; NO ABLEISM; NO AGEISM; NO HOMOPHOBIA; NO FATPHOBIA; NO TRANSPHOBIA, NO HATEFULNESS’, and even more so in the attitudes of everyone there.’

John Claude

‘The second Afropunk festival held at Constitution Hill in Johannesburg was a big success. The rainy and stormy weather did not put a damper on my spirit. The people came out. They came in numbers and in their most creative and eye-catching attire. It was two days of celebration among people of colour. Two days of celebrating the African spirit alongside my brothers and sisters.’

‘The music was like fire in the cold and the artists kept it burning throughout. Even through the rain, Thandiswa Mazwai, Muzi and Kaytranada, among others, kept the fire burning and the crowd couldn’t have been better.’

Jean Luc

‘The highlights for me included Flying Lotus and his out-of-this-world, visually unparalleled 3D performance; YoungstaCPT’s powerful commentary on the land reclamation issue currently being debated in South Africa; DJ Maphorisa’s masterful blend of Nigerian Afrobeats and South African house, Gqom; being blessed by the presence of legendary South African kwaito group Trompies; and lastly, there was no better way to end the year and usher in the new than Haitian-Canadian DJ and record producer Kaytranada’s electrifying set.’


‘A highlight was meeting the hip-hop artist Bas at the Everyday People event the night before Afropunk at Shine studios. It was great because I had missed most of his performance in Cape Town two weeks prior. Another one was Moonchild’s Sanelly’s energetic performance which included her getting off the stage and performing in the crowd. Definitely one for the books.

‘I would be doing everyone a disservice if I did not mention the Spinthrift Market which showcased items inspired by African art and textiles. My favourite brand was DOPE Store. DOPE, which is an acronym for “Designer Original Products Enterprise” is a lifestyle store concentrating on world design, music, fashion and art. It specialises in selling unique collections by various designers.’

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Jean Luc

‘Leaving the event, the only thought running through my mind was that Africa needs more celebrations of who we are like this… the world needs more celebrations like these.’



Die Darkies

Creative Director Julien Ntamakemwa on how Die Darkies came about and what’s up next.

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How did Die Darkies start and where did the name come from?

We initially started off as five friends who wanted to create a brand. We struggled to find a name, so we ended up postponing the whole idea. Then one day one of the members suggested we create a group chat titled ‘Die Darkies’ (in the Afrikaans sense, not as in ‘die/death’), after seeing an Instagram caption I had posted. We later decided to run with the name as it was provocative and we knew it would capture people’s attention. We then made it more conceptual by breaking it down. Once broken down to its essence, it actually became Dark Key (Darkie). This was symbolic – you are your own key to success as young black Africans – ‘The dark ones opening their own doors.’

Who are the members of Die Darkies?

I’m the Creative Director and photographer. Prince Mukiza is studying film at AFDA. Gandhi Mukiza is an experienced model who recently worked with Gucci. Kevin Mukena just shot an international KFC advert, and Paradis Munyamana is also a creative director and model. As a collective, we are all able to bring our own perspectives towards the brand. We aspire to grow as a brand and together.

What’s different about your parties?

Our parties initially started off as an alternative nightlife option to what Cape Town had to offer. We’ve never really enjoyed the clubs, mainly because it felt like everyone in those spaces tried to be better than the next person. So with our parties, we’ve mainly focused on not having any VIP sections, and allowing people to bring their own booze. This gives people a chance to socialise with others that they might not usually socialise with because there are no barriers, as well as giving people the freedom to drink whatever they want. We also try to focus on providing our crowds with an experience, exposing them to new sounds, DJs and artists they wouldn’t normally ever come across. But we do mainly focus on Trap (heavy bass hip-hop).

What’s next for Die Darkies?

We have a party coming up on 22 September and it will be slightly different. We will be hosting it at the Youngblood gallery. This party won’t have exactly the original feel of a house party since there won’t be any BYOB, but people will be able to say, ‘I partied in an art gallery last night!’





‘I feel like Africa is Now translates and speaks to the future, as Africa is an integral part of the world’s history and therefore the most quintessential and poignant part of the future. I believe in the ability of the rich African diaspora across the continent to transcend time and space culturally. We are the frontier that everyone knows, globally, is coming, but fear won’t let them conceptualise the depths of culture and ideas that emanate from this continent.

‘It literally is and has been everywhere you look. Everyone is inspired by our art, architecture, music, fashion, dance etc. Picasso knew it (Cubism), Drake (WizKid), Beyoncé (Lemonade) and Donald Glover (Dance). Versace just branded their whole runway show to Fela Gucci, among a host of others, and a black man, who is originally from Ghana, is the head of Louis Vuitton Menswear. On the flip side of that you have an invigorated youth force who look at that and are not there yet and use that energy we’ve always had to elevate ourselves for the world to see. Whether living in Africa or as migrants, throughout history we’re always waiting to set the world ablaze in every sector of art. And this something we’re starting to see as the building blocks of the new status-quo.’


‘To use a South Africanism, Africa is “now now”. This is a huge representation of a journey that is so significant to the fashion industry.’


‘To me, Africa is Now speaks for itself. It’s an amazing time to be black. We’ve become comfortable with who we are, we’ve come together, we are embracing. The glow is in undeniable. Africa Is Now.’


‘To me Africa is Now means that Africa is the future; economically, socially and politically. It is a region of the world that has been previously overlooked, but it is fast becoming a hub for not just economic growth, but also incredible creatives who are already making such a powerful difference in the world. Africa is not a trend, but a very real future that is here and now.’





At the age of 16 my vitiligo condition began to develop, as well as the start of a somewhat new life. Prior to having vitiligo, I was just an ordinary kid, minding my own business and trying my best to make everyone proud by getting good grades. But one day at high school I was in a sports tournament and I fell on my knee and got badly injured. A few months went passed and the wound on my knee was completely healed except for the pigmentation in that area on my body.

When I noticed that I did what everyone would do. I went to my mother and told her that my knee was still white. We decided to wait for some time to see if something would happen. At this point, I already started to feel afraid but I was trying to stay positive. But I sort of knew that this was not normal. One month passed and still, there wasn’t any positive progress.

The nightmares I had become reality. The white spot I had on my knee grew in size and I started to notice more white spots on my hands. My mother and I immediately went to a doctor to seek professional help. We went to a doctor who specialised in skin conditions. After glancing at my knee, he totally shattered my self-perception.

The doctor said these words: ‘Gideon you are going to be white. There is nothing we can do about it so you have to accept it.’

He had a fair point. But I just didn’t want to accept the fact that I had vitiligo. For many years, I tried every possible treatment to at least stop the depigmentation in my skin. I was hoping to return to who I was before. Nothing worked.

So, I was hiding. Wearing long sleeve shirts, trousers or jeans no matter what the season. I felt like I was not normal. After hitting an absolute low, I decided that my skin condition is part of me and I just didn’t want to hide anymore.


I gave myself a mission, which was to educate people on what vitiligo is in order to help others so they never have to reach the lows that I did.

I started a job in a supermarket in my town in The Netherlands and I began wearing short sleeves. At first I felt so uncomfortable because I could feel people staring at my spotted arms. But I carried on and eventually I got a few people coming up to me to ask what had happened. ‘Did you burn yourself? Were you born like that? Are both of your parents black or is one white? Did god punish you? Does it hurt?’ were some of the frequently asked questions. The questions were quite brutal and really hurt me. But these people hadn’t seen someone with vitiligo before so I couldn’t be angry with them.

I took the time to answer all the questions in the hope that they would spread the word. After sometime vitiligo became normal to them and I got approached by a guy in the gym. He knew a popular clothing store owner that was looking for new models for his web-store. He gave me the details and told me to call them. At this point I was afraid. I wasn’t so comfortable putting myself out there. But I also promised myself that I would try.

After a month of self-doubt, I did it. I went to the studio and I had my very first photoshoot. I didn’t know if I would get positive or negative reactions. But I didn’t have to be afraid of anything. The reactions were all positive. Even other people with vitiligo came up to me and told me that I helped them with accepting their skin condition.


As for now, I am totally comfortable in my skin. I see it as a part of me. It shaped me into who I am right now. It could sound strange to some, but if you gave me the chance to gain all my pigment back, I wouldn’t do it. This is who I am and who I will be and I will not change this for anything.

When you have been through the process of depigmentation, you start to know yourself and your worth. I know who I am and that I am a strong enough to still have a positive self-image. I thought life would only get worse as my depigmentation continued. But life only got better day by day. Vitiligo is partially responsible for the opportunities I have now and the things I have achieved so far. But even more satisfying is how I have indirectly helped those in need without even knowing them.

You have to be strong when you have vitiligo and you may go through times when you feel like an outsider. Just keep in mind, you are unique as you are and beauty cannot be defined by others who are not open to accepting new ways of being beautiful.