Was Afropunk Joburg 2017 Cursed?
No more Solange – Twitter outraged
Starting with main act Solange announcing her hiatus from the Afropunk festival in Joburg on Instagram four days prior had everybody and their momma outraged on Twitter:
Wrote, deleted and re wrote this like 5 times… Still not sure what exactly or how much I want to share… However it’s so important to me for the people in South Africa, a place that has tremendous meaning to me and that has given me SO SO MUCH, to know why I won’t be performing at Afro Punk this NYE. The past five months I have been quietly treating, and working through an Autonomic Disorder. It been a journey that hasn’t been easy on me… Sometimes I feel cool, and other times not so cool at all. It’s a complicated diagnoses , and I’m still learning so much myself, but right now, my doctors are not clearing me for such an extended lengthy flight, and doing a rigorous show right after. I can’t put into words how saddened and sorry I am that I am unable to perform for you guys this NYE, there is simply no other place I wanted to be than there with my family to bring in 2018 with you…….but I give you my ABSOLUTE WORD I will come back with AfroPunk and deliver this performance…..as it is so extremely important to me to connect with the people who have so closely inspired me in so many ways. I can’t thank Afro Punk enough for their support, and to all of the other festivals this past summer/fall who have known about my health, kept it confidential, and gone out of their way to make me feel supported while doing these shows. As a part of the self care that I’ve tried to encourage this past year, it needs to start with myself, and I’m looking forward to doing a better job of this 2018. This past year has been one of the most fulfilling of my life… Performing this record and experiencing the energy exchange with you guys has been astounding, and I’m so excited about continuing to do the work I feel so absolutely humbled and appreciative to be doing next year. It gives me life.
In case you missed them, here are some of the best tweets in reaction to Solange’s announcement:
I won’t lie and pretend like Solange wasn’t the only reason I was going to AfroPunk pic.twitter.com/9ZKVhPVzDi
— Dali (@palesadali) December 27, 2017
Its funny how there is no outrage about DJ Cleo pulling out of #Afropunk but y’all were ready to kill for Solange, you guys need to appreciate local artists and give them the respect you give international artists
— Thembz (@Thembeka__) December 29, 2017
Beyoncé when Solange told her she’ll be performing in South Africa: pic.twitter.com/tnFJVOSLyo
— FutureMaybe? (@DarkskinNugget) December 27, 2017
Soon after, Afropunk shared their ridiculous rules of leaving cameras with a detachable lens and umbrellas for more than one person at home and only bringing transparent bags. Sure, Afropunk, me and everyone else got a transparent bag hanging in our closet, and it definitely be a great touch to our outfits!
Once we kinda processed this news, the weather gods still seemed to be angry at things because during the early evening hours on the first day of Afropunk in Joburg, the skies darkened, lightening ruptured, thunder roared, and the clouds just dumped massive amounts of rain on all visitors. My Irish friend Clio: “This just reminds me of any other music festival in Ireland.” I’m sure it did! But damn it, this wasn’t Ireland, we were in frickin’ Africa – where the sun’s supposed to be out during summer months in the Southern hemisphere!
Getting robbed – sorta!
When the thunderstorms stopped, Clio and I took the chance and hopped into an Uber from our hotel Once in Joburg – a two minute ride to Constitution hill. Right as we got in, the rain started again, this time more aggressively. When we got out of the car, water just poured on us and we ran to shelter underneath the umbrella of the smartest guy in South Africa at this moment – a street vendor with umbrellas who yelled: “You can bring these inside!” He was talking about his big, definitely more-than-one-person-umbrellas. Without even haggling, Clio and I accepted the ridiculous price of ZAR100 ( $8) and squeezed underneath the umbrella, soon with a random third person who was also seeking shelter despite his rain cape.
Clio put it best: “So Jenny, we didn’t get robbed in Joburg until now: The umbrella was a total robbery.”
Almost no security
Then we went through “security.” Several times during the Afropunk festival, my friends and I entered without thorough security checkings, sometimes without ANY at all! Afropunk Joburg could definitely use some work on that!
Because the rain proceeded, Clio and I took shelter underneath a roof with about 40 other people who squeezed next to us. And when we thought it couldn’t get worse, it started hailing. HAILING! WTF Afropunk Joburg?!
Another 10 minutes later, the sun worked her way through and the disastrous weather ended in a beautiful rainbow right across the main stage.
The rain not only left the grass area in front of the stage wet and muddy, but gave everyone’s shoes and pants a red-ish color. People with white sneakers definitely wasted a pair and so did I with my cream colored shoes.
Because neither the mood nor the performing artist was amazing, my friend Seun and I went back to my hotel to change and bring warm clothes to Clio.
As Seun and I arrived back at the festival, we got out of our Uber on the other side of the entrance and saw a crowd running and shouting. Seun heard something else: Muffled shots. Fortunately, he prevented me from just crossing the street and getting caught between the fire like a dumb a$$. Growing up in safe-a$-hell Germany definitely did not prepare me for situations like this nor do I expect them to happen close to me, even after spending eight years in Los Angeles.
A few seconds later, Seun and I found it safe to re-enter the festival and walked in and he also let me know that he saw three guys with pistols strapped to their pants. Fantastic! Now the lacking security really started bothering me, but I didn’t let these thoughts cloud my festival mood any more than the weather already had.
When we came back, Blitz the Ambassador, a Ghanaian musician, had a pretty hard time engaging the crowd, but nevertheless, put on a great show, which was followed by an awesome set of DJ Doowap. The Omunye phezukwe munye song that they played had the crowd going crazy (listen to the song in the video below)!
Can anyone who has this remix please send it to me? YouTube only has sh!tty quality!
After checking out the awesome fashion and art stands, we left to join an after party, which we expected to be better than the unfortunately only ok mood at Afropunk.
We definitely rocked out there and stayed until 3 a.m.
My friend works with Anderson Paak – what?!
When I checked my Instagram, I found that my L.A. friend Nevin told me he was at Afropunk Joburg as well, working for none other than Anderson Paak – wait what?
Of course, we met up the next day and Nevin told me he’d been on tour with him for the past two years. That made me extremely proud and happy because eight years ago we were talking about his dreams of getting paid to make music and travel and mine to just travel. And you know what? We’re both actually living our dreams 🙂
Our Sunday at Afropunk Joburg turned out completely amazing – especially Anderson Paak (who I had not known before really – shame on me, I know, I know!).
We rang in the New Year with our new favorite songs Omunye phezukwe munye and Sister Bethina and danced until we could no longer stand.
Would I do Afropunk Joburg again?
Absolutely – 100,000 % because the energy on day 2 was unmatched to anything else I’d experienced, I only witnessed TWO very intoxicated people and NO fights (doesn’t mean there weren’t more, but all in all things went super smoothly).
An opinion about the AFROPUNK festival by Mariette from catface
Mariette and I were both working with Once in Joburg for the coverage of their Rebirth festival and Afropunk. Check out her opinion here.
And now, here are some of my favorite shots:
And here are Seun’s favorites 🙂
A big thanks to Once in Joburg for supporting me on my stay in Johannesburg and the Afropunk festival. As usual – all opinions are my own!
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