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Black British cultures far and wide united in a big way at AFROPUNK this past Saturday. In a day and age when the black community are targets for brutality, a sense of community and togetherness is needed more than ever before. Not so much for negotiating a space for solidarity, but for the simple fact of building a model for a union amongst us.

At London’s famed Alexandra Palace, for the first edition of the famed American festival in the UK’s capital, the pieces were put in place for a foundation of black brotherhood for years to come.

Vibrant would be a great first word to describe the festivities, as festival goers were draped in everything from dashikis to double hats, with activities aplenty to go hand in hand with the musical acts. With the Alexandra Palace essentially packed out, there was a real sense of happiness and joy amongst the sea of humanity, as they rocked away to the various sounds the spectacle had to offer.

On the music front, the black British music scene was represented in a way which displayed all of its myriad qualities that make the scene so great. Acts such as Laura Mvula, Loyle Carner, Jorja Smith, Lady Leshurr, Gaika, and even bands such as The Noisettes and Young Fathers expressed themselves in a range of different ways while achieving the same goal of displaying the scene’s many strengths.

The selection of Grace Jones as the night’s main headliner was a tactical one and, while it may not have completely resonated with the predominantly younger Afropunk crowd, it represented far more than just a performance. Jones has always reinvented herself in the three decades she has made music, and serves as a role model for all black people who feel trapped within certain confines to lead their lives in whichever way they choose.

Some would argue that, in these highly volatile times, Afropunk London didn’t capitalise on its opportunity to act as a forum to discuss how to tackle the racial injustice that continues to consume us. In its inaugural edition, Afropunk was never going to get everything right, but the sheer number of people shows that there is a desire for the masses to align with one another to rejoice in the greatness that is black culture. In time, the London edition of festival can become the beacon for mobilisation amongst us that we require to have our voices heard.

Nonetheless, this was a day to celebration the brilliance and exuberance of black culture in this country and this will continue to be the festival’s legacy in the future.

Photos by Visual Marvelry.

Words by Yemi Abiade.

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