Basha Uhuru Freedom Festival is ready for its sixth year in 2018, continuing to celebrate South African creativity. The three-day art, design, film and music festival will again be held at Constitution Hill in Johannesburg from Thursday, June 28th through Sunday, June 30th. Here’s more information about the event, including tickets, lineup and where to stay.
Basha Uhuru Freedom Festival
This festival is designed to celebrate creatives in South Africa. It is held at the historic Constitution Hill in Johannesburg to represent moving forward from the country’s past. The event is held in June to honor the South African youth, and those of the 1976 Soweto uprisings.
Basha Uhuru tickets
Tickets to Basha Uhuru are available starting June 1st, 2018 through the Basha Uhuru website for R50 (~$4!) or at the Constitution Hill box office for R75 (~$6). Check the website for registration for the creative programs, some of which require registration. Connect with Basha Uhuru on Facebook for the most up-to-date information.
Basha Uhuru schedule
Thursday, June 28th
10:00 am – 4:30 pm Design Conference Day 1: Creative Conversations
5:00 pm – 7:30 pm Nando’s Art & Design Exhibition Launch
8:00 pm – 10:00 pm Film Screening 1
Friday, June 29th
10:00 am – 4:30 pm Design Conference Day 2: Creative Workshops
5:00 pm – 7:30 pm Exhibition walk-abouts; poetry performances
8:00 pm – 10:00 pm Film Screening 2
Saturday, June 30th
10:00 am – late Craft & Design Market
1:00 pm – 1:00 am Music Festival & Nando’s Art & Design activations
The venue: Constitution Hill in Johannesburg
Constitution Hill has a dark history, but the city has decided to use it as a way to connect to the past and move forward from its history. It is formerly a prison with a dark Apartheid past. But today, the venue is home to a museum showcasing that history, houses offices for not-for-profits focused on gender issues and serves as a venue for city events like Basha Uhuru.
“Constitution Hill is not a static space stuck in time but rather a movement that connects the past, the present and the future through sparks of experiences like Basha Uhuru. Through this festival, we preserve the past and the sacrifices make by the youth of ’76 making it accessible to young people today whilst transforming the future through real inspirational engagement at multiple creative intersections.” Dawn Robertson, CEO Constitution Hill
The venue is a National Heritage Site and home to the country’s Constitutional Court, which is a piece of art in and of itself. It is definitely worth taking a tour of the jail and court during your visit to Johannesburg.
Constitution Hill has its own underground, secure parking if you care to drive. Otherwise, the event has set up UBER collection points to make getting to and from the event easy.
First time using Uber? Sign up with this link for a discount on your first ride.
Basha Uhuru lineup
While the music is what got my attention for Basha Uhuru, the entire festival also showcases art, design and film, and offers workshops for young creatives. Many of the artists themselves have participated in past years’ workshops – Sho Madjozi is this year’s South African mentor, while Muzi is a former mentor and Joshua The I AM was a participant in 2016.
Music at Basha Uhuru
More artists are yet to be announced, but those already announced are reason enough to attend the festival.
Sho Madjozi is a Tsonga rapper and artist, but she performs in multiple languages. She brings incredible energy to her performances, which are as much fun to watch as they are to listen to. She is known for her style, specifically xibelani dancing and wardrobe.
MUZI is a South African artist who has seen international success. AFROViSion is his sophomore album, featuring the single NU DAY. Though he has traveled extensively, his music is inspired by his upbringing, struggling in a semi-rural township.
Joshua The I AM
Joshua The I AM is a Johannesburg native, fresh to the hip-hop scene. He was Vuzu Hustle Season 2 runner-up and studied music production at university. He brings this experience and creativity to his art.
Zoe Modiga is a singer-songwriter from Durban, classically trained in Braamfontein. Her accolades include (but are not at all limited to) winning the SAMRO Overseas Scholarship Competition for singing in 2015, performing at the 2010 WORLD CUP Opening Ceremony, making the TOP 8 of The Voice SA. She is also nominated for both Best Jazz Album and Best African Artist at the 24th South African Music Awards 2018.
Other artists include:
- Radio 123: This duo came from township routes and describe their sound as Mandela Pop, which they use to share and preserve stories with Afro-funk melodies and a powerful rhythm section.
- Skwatta Kamp: This hip-hop group brings the history of South Africa and represent street culture with their art and are the most successful hip-hop group in the country.
- Sun Xa Experiment (below): Sun Xa is a six-piece live music band with an ancestral sound; hailing from Gauteng and Durban South Africa born in 2014.
- Urban Village: Urban Village is a band of self-taught artists from Soweto with urban and rural influences based on society’s daily survival, struggles and joys.
- And more. Watch the Basha Uhuru website for additional lineup announcements and details.
Art and design at Basha Uhuru
One of the workshop programs is the Nando’s Creative Exchange, a program that helps artists develop their careers through mentoring and exhibition opportunities. The aim is to help artists develop business skills, build a professional network and to get exposure in the South African art industry.
This year’s Creative Exchange artists will be exhibiting at Basha Uhuru. See the gallery below for samples of their work. They are:
- Nkosinathi Quwe
- Nkoali Nawa
- Ludumo Maqabuka
- Christo Basson
This year’s Creative Exchange exhibition shows the work of four emerging, Southern African fine artists who demonstrate exceptional ability. They are Christo Basson, Ludumo Maqabuka, Nkoali Nawa and Nkosinathi Quwe. They have been encouraged to create a comprehensive body of work for a group exhibition with the support of a mentor, who provides them with curatorial and professional presentation advice.
While the various works exhibited show diversity in medium, technique and subject matter, the underlying thread of ritual ties the works together. Each artist in their own way examines daily routines. Ludumo Maqabuka and Nkoali Nawa look to everyday society, Nkosinathi Quwe explores spiritual practice and Christo Basson examines the nature of art making itself. Through extensive observation these diverse tasks or practices almost take on the weight of sacred rituals. Tamlin Blake, Curator
Art exhibitions at Basha Uhuru
In addition to the artists featured above, two exhibitions will be on display at the festival. #i and Moments of Resistance will
Jodi Bieber, #i: A public art poster exhibition conceptualized by Jodi Bieber in collaboration with 45 young Jo’burgers, and in collaboration with designer and curator Brenton Maart.
Queer Action: Moments of Resistance from the Archive
Queer Action, Moments of Resistance from the Archive is an exhibition showcasing a selection of objects from GALA’s Archive (Gay and Lesbian Memory in Action) that speak to a history of Queer activism in South Africa.
Design showcase and competition
In addition to art showcases, the festival will showcase design through the Hot Young Designer competition. This year’s competition is centered on fabric design.
Thabisa Mjo of Mash T Design studio won the Nando’s Hot Young Designer Talent Search in 2015 for her Tutu 2.0 light, which went on to win the Most Beautiful Object in South Africa Award at the 2018 Design Indaba. The Tutu 2.0 light is inspired by the Xibelani skirt, which Tsonga women wear to celebrate their culture.
The Basha Uhuru design showcase will feature the Tutu 2.0, along with the work of Candice Lawrence, one of the 2015 finalists in the Nando’s Hot Young Designer Talent Search, and celebrated Mozambican textile designer, Wacy Zacarias.
Featured films at Basha Uhuru
The festival will feature two films, People Vs Patriarchy and Five Fingers for Marseilles. You can find the descriptions of the films below.
People Vs Patriarchy is a documentary unpacking what patriarchy is and how it has locked itself onto the very heart of our society. Through frank and confrontational dialogue with young people from different walks of life, it looks into the mirror to find out why #MenAreTrash exploded onto social media this year, following the countless cases of femicide and abuse exposed by the media in the country. Will boys always be boys? Will women continue to help raise ‘trashy‘ men? The film shot in three major cities of South Africa – Joburg, Durban and Cape Town, tells how every South African is part of this universal agenda that is taking over their daily lives.
Five Fingers for Marseilles is set in the rural town of Marseilles, where twenty years ago, the young ‘Five Fingers’ fought for the small town, against brutal police oppression. Now, after fleeing in disgrace, freedom fighter turned ‘outlaw’, Tau, returns to Marseilles, seeking only a peaceful pastoral life. When he finds the town under new threat, he must reluctantly fight to free it. can he free himself from his past? Will the Five Fingers stand again?
Where to stay in Johannesburg
Picking a place to stay in Johannesburg can be overwhelming, given the city’s reputation. Once in Joburg is a safe and perfectly located hotel/hostel for the event. It is a 10-minute walk from the event venue and located in the city’s up and coming Braamfontein district. They offer private rooms and dorms, both at great prices and with breakfast included. Find the best price to book Once in Joburg here.
Other options to stay in Johannesburg:
- Airbnb: There are plenty of nice Johannesburg Airbnb options, but it is worth your time to communicate with hosts first to understand the neighborhood you’re choosing. Save $40 on your first booking with this link.
- Booking: There are a few hundred options on Booking; save $20 on your first booking with this link.
Other festivals in Southern Africa
Southern Africa has no shortage of festivals, big and small, celebrated all across the calendar year. Here are some of the hottest picks for festivals in Southern Africa.
Here’s a more comprehensive list of festivals in South Africa, beyond the ones listed here.
March: Ultra South Africa (CPT & JHB, South Africa)
Ultra is the world’s premiere festival brand, held in 24 cities all over the world in 2019. It is South Africa and the continent’s biggest electronic music festival. It will be in Cape Town on March 1st and Johannesburg on the 2nd.
April: Splashy Fen (Drakensberg, South Africa)
Splashy Fen is billed as South Africa’s friendliest festival. It will be held next April 19th through 23rd, 2019. It is the country’s biggest and longest-running festival, celebrating music, arts and people, located in world heritage site the Drakensberg.
April: Afrikaburn (Tankwa Town, South Africa)
Afrikaburn is Africa’s regional burn – a smaller version of the United States’ Burning Man. It will next be held April 29th through May 5th, 2019.
May: Bushfire Festival (House on Fire, Swaziland)
MTN Bushfire Festival in Swaziland isn’t in South Africa, but the tiny kingdom is just a 4-hour drive from Johannesburg, it counts. 2019 will be Bushfire‘s 13th year, bringing music and arts from all over the continent to the continent’s smallest country – Swaziland. It will next be held May 24th through 26th, 2019.
August: Oppikoppi (Northam, South Africa)
Oppikoppi 2018 was held Thursday, August 9th through Saturday, August 11th, 2018. This music festival started with mostly rock and 2000 attendees in 1995 and has grown to showcase 160+ international sets to 20,000 attendees in 2016. It’s been ranked in the top 5 festivals to visit in the world.
October: Rocking the Daisies (Cape Town, South Africa)
This music and arts festival is held annually in Cape Town. Rocking the Daisies will be held October 4th through 6th, 2019. This festival is about giving you the warm fuzzies – it features music and entertainment, but you can also expect activities like yoga, magic and virtual reality.
Basha Uhuru 2017 photo gallery
This is a selection of photos from Basha Uhuru 2017. You can find them on Facebook for more festival inspiration.
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