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What's on at the 2019 Basha Uhuru Freedom Festival

The Basha Uhuru Freedom Festival will be held at Constitution Hill in Johannesburg from 26 to 29 June 2019. The festival is held, every year, to commemorate the 1976 Soweto uprisings through a celebration of creative expression.
Basha Uhuru was created seven years ago to mark “a day that is synonymous with South Africa’s struggle against apartheid. It is the day that symbolises the rising of our nation’s youth against oppression. It is the day that changed the course of our country’s history. It is the day that our country’s youth claimed their rightful place in our country’s narrative,” says Constitution Hill’s CEO Dawn Robertson.

Music, workshops and entrepreneurial support programmes

The Basha Uhuru Freedom Festival not only showcases art, design, film, poetry and music but also provides inspirational workshops and entrepreneurial support programmes for young creatives. The festival ends with The Sounds Of Freedom concert that will feature hip-hop, house, gqomkwaitoamapiano and Afro-soul’s finest in the form of Riky Rick, Msaki, Langa Mavuso, Thebe, Khuli Chana, Mthuda & Njelik, DJ Kent, DJ Dimples, The Brother Moves On, Urban Village, African Rhythm Productions, Ikati Esangweni, Coppashot & Bobotical, DJ Zero, Rosie Parade, Deniece Mars, Sistamatic, P Kuttah, Scott The Girl, Tha Muzik, Ace of Spades, DBN Gogo and FOSTA and The Charles Géne Suite. 

Riky Rick

Constitution Square will be filled with eclectic up-and-coming sounds, smash hits and the bustle of the Makers Market. The Makers’ Market will bring together the finest local food, drink, art and craft producers in the area, ensuring goods that are unique, original and designed to inspire.

During the week, before the concert, there will be an array of culture available for free to Joburg residents this youth month. "This year we are celebrating 25 years of Creative Freedom. In this, the 25th anniversary of our democracy, we, at Constitution Hill, will demonstrate our commitment to building a stronger and fairer society by exploring issues relating to human rights, democracy and social justice. We believe in artistic activism – that the arts can change lives and communities by transmitting fundamental human values and inspiring us to embrace and celebrate our freedom. By challenging young creatives to explore notions of freedom we will use the festival to highlight current issues prevalent in the society that impact the lives of young people,” says Robertson.

The Basha Bacha Creative Uprising: a three-day creative summit packed full of workshops, talks and an industry pitch session where designers can win funding and mentorship opportunities and Sounds of Freedom Music Festival.


Since 1994 filmmaking has flourished and this will certainly be evident at Visions Of Freedom at Constitution Hill’s Women’s Jail when five new South African films – from romcoms to period dramas and everything in between – will be shown. Screenings will be followed by discussions with actors and directors. Films include Norman Maake’s Love Lives Here, which stars Thando Thabethe and Lungile Radu. Jahmil XT Qubeka’s apartheid-era Western starring Ezra Mabengeza, Sew the Winter to my Skin and An Act of Defiance about anti-apartheid lawyer Bram Fischer will be watched too. The Khanyi Mbau and Aubrey Pooe vehicle Red Room will screen, as will Into Infinity that stars Thishiwe Ziqubu, Nandi Nyembe and Treasure Tshabalala. 


The fine art programme, Expressions of Freedom, opens to the public with two exhibitions that will close on the 31 July 2019. Both will focus on young emerging artists from two major art collections. The Spier Arts Trust in Partnership with Constitution Hill will showcase an exhibition titled I See U, Imagining a Space for Freedom. This exhibition brings together a selection of artworks from the Spier Arts Trust collection, which spans over 35 years and provides an insight both into our country’s past and our present.

Twenty-five years after the official ushering in of freedom, the Art Bank of South Africa marks Youth Month by curating the Homing in on Freedom exhibition, an exhibition of artworks by youth, artists selected from the Art Bank of South Africa’s Contemporary Visual Art Collection. The works were chosen to highlight multi-layered themes of home, identity and expression that concern today’s young people. Artists showing include Lungisa Matubatuba; Qhama Maswana; Lebo Thoka; Hannah Cornelius; Zwelinjani Radebe; Thalente Khomo; Sifiso Samuel Gumede; Banele Khoza; Manyatsa Monyamane; and Sthembiso Zwane. 

This year at Basha Uhuru, Nando’s, in partnership with Spier Arts Trust, is hosting a series of art workshops; a panel discussion with the Nando’s 2019 Creative Exchange artists, Sepideh Mehraban, and the Spier Arts Trust curator, Tamlin Blake; as well as featuring a showcase of Creative Block artworks from the 2019 Creative Exchange artists. The 2019 Creative Exchange artists who will be showcased at Basha Uhuru are Adolf Tega, Thembalethu Manqunyay, Wonder Marthinus and Robyn Pretorius. 

Design thinking and activism

The Basha Bacha Creative Summit at The Women's Jail is three days of design thinking and activism, inspirational workshops, enterprise support, networking, talks, pitching and other opportunities with creative innovators, business leaders, technologists and entrepreneurs. 

Nando’s, led by their creative director Tracy Lee-Lynch, will also partner with the Gauteng Enterprise Propeller (GEP) to host design talks, workshops and an industry pitch session at Basha Bacha. Also taking part are Malibongwe Tyilo associate editor for Maverick Life, the Daily Maverick's online Lifestyle Magazine; 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; Nkuli Mlangeni, who is a creative entrepreneur, dreamer, traveller and maker of things and founder of The Ninevites; Mpho Vackier the creative talent behind TheUrbanative, a contemporary African furniture and product design company in South Africa; Thokoza Mjo, an investment analyst who  founded Beyond the Lemonade Stand with the mission to partner with families in developing a generation that believes they are capable of achieving their dreams. Thabisa, Nkuli, Mpho and Thokoza will be presenting a workshop on “Having a positive mindset”. 

Amaya Delmas is a French screen printer and graphic designer based in Victoria Yards, Lorrentzville. After completing her master’s at Central St Martins in London, she worked in several advertising agencies in Paris. Amaya will be running the stencil- and print-making workshop at Basha Bacha Creative Uprising creative conference. 


The best rhymes will be on show when talented poets gather at Words Of Freedom at The Women’s Jail. South African poetry witnessed a shift over the past two decades and a half, from only occupying journals into existing within the live entertainment realm. The lineup at the Word Up Poetry Fest will show this growth by showcasing a diverse array of talent in the poetry world today:  Makhafula Vilakazi; Dr Sarah Godsell; Mutle Mothibe; Nomashenge Dlamini; Xabiso Vili; Busisiwe Mahlangu; Sibulelo Manamatela; Belita Andre; Masai Sepuru; Dillan Park; Prince Shapiro and Vus’umuzi Phakathi will perform.

Johannesburg culture fans and party-goers are encouraged to check out for the full festival programme. All events are free, aside from the concert. Tickets for that are R75 off and R100 at the festival gates. 
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