This inaugural Afropunk in London gathered hundreds of hundreds of people from across the globe. We went meet a few of them, come travel with us…
Meet the young and committed Eberé
A/T: Why are you here?
There is a big movement happening at the moment, from the young black people of the
diaspora. I feel like it’s a very important event, it’s a way to celebrate who we are and I’m really embracing it.
A/T: How did you hear about Afropunk?
I know Afropunk from a long-run about 6 years, I have two friends in America, who talked to me about it. It really caught my attention, on Afropunk 2013, when they had all the pictures on their page. I think everyone caught in hand of what was going on.
A/T: Do you identify more to the Afro or Punk part?
For me I’m from London, my mum always told me what she was doing at the time. To me Punk is about attitude, and do whatever you want to express yourself, and Afro is about African heritage, obviously I’m a Black woman, that’s me first and foremost so I’d say to me the two combine to represent myself.
A/T: Where are you from?
I’m from Nigeria. I grew-up in South-East and West London on a very mixed and diverse Afro-Caribbean kind of diaspora.
A/T: Do you feel more for Black Lives Matter or All Lives Matter?
Black Lives Matter. Because at the moment the inequality and the examples of injustices are directed towards Africans, it’s a long descending issue that historically took part of the infrastructure of our society. I did a lot of researches to understand the roots, I’m discovering reading loads and loads, you can literally go through all libraries in the UK here and you will see written down in books, that they talked about the African species at the time. Literally species, and these studies were brought by science!!
For now, Black Lives definitely Matter.
A/T: Do you think that people in the UK can relate to the Afro-American movement as well?
Absolutely! I think people in the UK shouldn’t get distracted. Like some people think that because they made it, racism no longer exists, people do that a lot in the UK…People compare US to the UK and say well it doesn’t happen here. Yeah, it happens here! it’s just a different way, it’s very much behind the scene, but it definitely happens so people should relate.
A/T: According to you, what is it to be Black in 2016?
Being rich in your spirit and your soul, in what don’t even matter to you: what you like to eat, the way you dance, the way our body is shaped…to me that’s what being black is. I mean defining the spirit that link it all together. I used to tell my Caribbean, Latino friends (that I met in South America) don’t think we’re all different because you speak Portuguese, you speak Spanish and you speak English. No we’re all in the same colony, we were all colonized by Europe in a way. So don’t think of the differences and focus on our similarities.
Meet Lilian from Afro Retro
A/T: Why are you here?
I’m here to introduce my brand Afro-retro.
A/T: What does it stand for?
It’s a jewelry fusion brand. We’re trying to bring the best of Uganda and England together. Uganda has had some bad press lately, and we wanted to change that. We need to let people know that there are many sides to every country. There’s ideas, we think, we are creative, we can do positive things. We started doing that and realized that living in England had a big influence on us. So that’s what we do in Afro Retro.
Afro Retro is the creative outlet, trying to talk about where we come from and get to talk about where you come from and share journeys.
To read more.
Meet a mother-daughter Pearl & Jessica
Pearl: My name is Pearl, and this is Jessica my daughter.
A/T: Must be kinda cool to hang out with your mum at Afropunk
Jessica: Yeaaah! (laughs)
A/T: Where are you from?
Pearl: From Botswana, and based in London.
A/T: How did you hear about Afropunk?
Pearl: A friend of mine, went to the one in Brooklyn and she really enjoyed it. She came all the way from South Africa for the occasion. And because this is the very first edition in the UK, she told me that I had to go.
A/T: How does it feel to attend Afropunk UK then?
Pearl& Jessica: Amazing!!!
A/T: Would you identify yourself more to Black Lives Matter or All Lives Matter?
Jessica: Hum, I’m stuck in between, although I feel more for Black Lives Matter.
Pearl: I’m up for Black Lives Matter to be honest, I’m not stuck anywhere, I’m straight forward I know what I want. I think we shouldn’t be afraid to talk about what we feel that is right. We no longer feel oppressed or obliged to do what other people expect from us. It’s a bit like we didn’t have a mind of our own. And now we do.
A/T: What does that mean to you to be black in 2016?
Jessica: I feel bold, I’m proud I’m black.
Pearl: Yeah, I’m proud of my skin.
Meet inspiring fiancés Ade and Cat
A/T: What brought you here?
Ade: I’ve actually done a pitch about a play for Afropunk, about two years ago, I’m an artist, an actor and a writer. I like their message, followed them on social media and I had to be here.
Cat: For me diversity is a huge, huge thing. I’m an ambassador for a campaign founded by Dove and the YMCA. And it’s all about feeling confident with your body no matter what. To me Afropunk is a beautiful thing, I mean walking around tonight I’ve seen so many absolute beautiful people and it’s so interesting to me.
A/T: Do you feel closer from the Afro or Punk side?
Ade: Both that’s what I love about it. I grew up in a literally commonly black area, the school was commonly white, so I felt the burden cliché of how a black guy should be. So I listened to loads of alternative music, then I also was very prone to listen to music from Nigeria, where I’m from. Grew-up on Fela (Kuti) but I also love rock and punk so it’s 50/50 for me.
Cat: I don’t identify so much to the afro part because I’m mixed race, but I think even more the punk side. I think I’ve always been questioning the norm, I like to question things, to challenge things. I’ve always thought of being this little red bull and I guess that’s why I can identify to Afropunk, yeah.
A/T: Which of these do you identify the most: Black lives Matter or All Lives Matter?
Ade: Black Lives Matter. Of course all lives matter but, we’re being specific to a situation where a specific group of people is dealing with specific things. That’s what we’re trying to highlight. We’re dealing with context. If it was something else, then it could be like sexism, of course men and women are equal, but feminism is pointing at the inequality, how women are being degraded and so forth.
Cat: I think we all as a family of this planet need to realize that inequality is here, it’s real, it’s affecting lives and people are dying. We really need to stand together and for each other and acknowledge that we are part of the problem. Variety is us, and it’s up to us to save it.
A/T: What is it to be Black in 2016?
Ade: To be open, to be yourself.
Cat: You know my fiancé is doing a lot of work to the States, and I say to him “I’m scared of you going to the States because I’m scared of you not coming back alive”. There are very real things happening there. It’s hard because you want to focus on the beauty and positive side of being black, but you also need to acknowledge what it takes.
A/T: What is it to be punk?
Cat: It means to push boundaries, and be the best version of ourselves from a social and human perspective. To realize that we’re not that important and that there’s something bigger here, and have the courage to fight for that.
Meet Maya from Gal-dem mag
We met Maya, who needed to witness Afropunk 1st edition in the UK. She would have missed it for nothing in the world, as she also came to introduce Gal-dem magazine to many more London-based readers.
Gal-dem was “mainly designed for all girls and women of colour. It’s about everything, it’s about rights, about life, feminism…We cover many subjects. Launched in 2015, this year was Gal-dem first printed issue. See more here.
Composed of over 70 writing contributors, mostly based in the UK, this “creative online magazine” opens-up the world to diversity, ethnical background, genders, feminism…
Discover more here.
Meet Coco from Coco Davillé
A French jewelry desginer, who grew-up in Seine-et Marne district and based in the London for over 22 years. Originally from Guadeloup, her love for African designs and artcraft, led her to create her own brand Coco Davillé. As she said she wanted to do something for herself, and she’s proud of it. She saw in Afropunk the opportunity to meet people lovers of afro designs and hand-made jewelries.
Have a closer look here.
Photo copyright: Sylvia Houahu