Six people you'll meet at Afropunk Festival
Words: Nhlanhla Masemola | Illustrations: Eva Faerch
I’ll admit that most festivals give me an uneasy feeling in my belly. And then I was introduced to Afropunk Festival and I fell in love. Finally, I thought, a festival that ‘gets’ me. For the first time ever the festival will be coming to Johannesburg on the 30th to the 31st of December. For those of you who’ve never had the pleasure of witnessing the creativity and beauty of the individuals who attend this alternative music festival, it could be overwhelming to sift through all that diverse Afrocentric glory. Trying to assort these kinds of festival-goers is like trying to map the behaviour of rare birds. But even rare birds flock together, so here’s a totally unprejudiced guide to the peoples one can expect to jam next to.
The Wanderlust Wild Child
Who: Flowers in one's hair are so intertwined with festival culture that it would be unusual to have a festival without them. 70s hippies were defined by them and so it was decreed that flowers in one's hair make all the sense in the world at festivals. But admittedly even I have to agree that flowers in braids or ‘black’ hairstyles are both unusual and pleasing to behold. Because the festival is all about individuality and creative people on the fringes don’t be surprised to see the guys sporting a variety of plant life in their locks and beards to contend even the most daring women.
What they wear: Your garden variety wanderlusters are known for their drama. Big hair, really big hair, with brilliantly organised bouquets sprouting out on every follicle of hair are to be expected. Their hair overshadows their clothes here.
what they probably listen to: ‘Flower Boy’ by Tyler the Creator, something by Erykah Badu, Miguel, or Solange.
The sugar dandy
Who: His sugary ensembles and colourful hair make him a resplendent addition to the festival. He’s the one with the pastel pink cotton candy beard and interesting hairstyle. He’s dressed up with a feminine yet dapper sense of style.
What he wears: He loves wearing an Aloha shirt with sunflowers. He enjoys tie-dyed tees, reflective sunnies, most pink clothing, and dressing like a teen in general. Bleached denims are one of his wardrobe favourites.
What he probably listens to: Prince, Frank Ocean, SZA, Nakhane Touré, Sampha, something dreamy and equally provocative.
Who: It wouldn’t be an Afropunk festival without a dashiki or three. This event is one that doesn’t shy away from celebrating black culture and the African continent. The next individual that embodies this idea is the new Afrocentric.
What they wear: an African-printed jumpsuit, nose rings and facial jewellery, ankhs, printed bikini tops, mismatched shorts and lightweight turbans.
What they probably listen to:Kaytranada, Erykah Badu, Lauryn Hill, Kelis, Amanda Black, Thandiswa Mazwai.
Who: Goths and goth culture have been stereotypically white, with POCs pushed to the fringes. It can be a little peculiar to witness these individuals being their gothy selves. The festival is one place where we get to see the diverse range of other folks who identify as goth or are gothically inclined. This group also tends to dabble in the punk arts from time to time.
What they wear: Black, obviously. But this also includes distressed skinny jeans, leather jackets, skulls, pleather, crossbones, mo-fros, plaid shirts, gunmetal piercings and cutout tees.
What they probably listen to:Lil Uzi Vert, Lil Peep, Linkin Park, Kanye West.
Who: The festival is home to a bevvy of wild and wonderful people and none more so than the people I’d describe as moonwalkers. These are the people that dress out of this world, from another galaxy far far away. They’re inspired by the concept of Afrofuturism – an aesthetic that combines science fiction, fantasy and Afrocentrism as a form of cultural and racial criticism. They could also just be dressing like aliens for the fun of it.
What they wear: Iridescent trousers, sequins, asymmetric shades, blue lipstick, neon braids, technicolour wigs and alien head backpacks.
What they probably listen to: Willow Smith, Nao, FKA Twigs, Janelle Monae, André 3000, Moonchild Sanelly.
Who: Feminists, revolutionaries and progressives are all very necessary at events such as these where equality and cultural education are part and parcel of what makes them what they are – safe creative places for the marginalised and free-thinking. The Activista comes in a myriad of shapes and personalities, but all are bound by the drive to do good and fight the injustices of the world.
What they wear: Bare chests. Yes, bare chests, and sometimes decorated nipples. These are hardcore dismantlers of patriarchy and body shaming, and aren’t afraid of showing skin. Body paint is to be expected, DIY feminist andsocial justice tees, big hair but also no hair, and body-positive slogans. Remember, this group could really include anyone on this list – but look out for that warm progressive aura.
What they probably listen to: Beyoncé, Princess Nokia, Kelela, intelligent and thoughtful musicians who highlight the ills of the world and attempt to mobilise similar-minded people to be the change the want to see in the world.