Afropean – notes from Black Europe [Book Launch – June 8th 2019]

Produced by Afropean co-founders Nat Illumine and Yomi Bazuaye, with event management by Sadiece Holland, the evening began with mingling, rum cocktails provided by Identity Drinks and canapés courtesy of Zoe Adjonyoh’s wonderful team at Zoe’s Ghana kitchen, serving red jollof rice and plantain, Goat shocko curry and coconut rice, Suya roasted corn salad with jollof spiced chicken skewers, Grilled garden egg marinated in fresh chilli, garlic and ginger on goats cheese, wild rocket and hard dough crostini, Tilapia Ceviche and Kelewele with Fresh chillies and Suya toasted nuts.

As the crowd savoured the Afropean flavours, Johny played a mellow DJ set encompassing Polish neo soul, Belgian Afrobeat, French Hip-Hop and Swedish funk.  You can listen to the playlist here.  Photographer Jonathon Oppong-Wiafe took portraits of the invitees, as Ritchie Lsn set up the performance space for three Afropean soul legends.

TV Presenter/Broadcaster Ayo Akinwolere then introduced the official start of the evening, followed by a reading from Johny, who read this excerpt featured in the Observer: and then we went straight into Les Nubians’ FIRST EVER live London gig.  The sisters Faussart ran through their classic anthems, topped with blissfull acoustic perfomance of Makeda, from their Grammy nominated album Princesses Nubiennes.

This was followed by an epic perfomance by Omar who played classic tracks such as Ghana Emotion, This is not a Love Song and was joined by a rapturous packed house to sing his classic ‘There’s Nothing Like This’.

Finally came a transcendent DJ set from Stockholm singer songwriter Stephen Simmonds, who took us across the diaspora with everything from dancehall to Afrobeat and classic soul.  One of the highlights of this set was when he played the Prince-penned Erotic City, by Sheila E.  Prince was a huge fan of Stephen’s debut album ‘Spirit Tales’ and his spirit was certainly in the room.

Reflecting on the evening, one word kept emerging from all who attended, and the word was ‘euphoria’.  It was a reminder of how culture and art can bring people together from across class, race, and gender.

If you missed the London launch please consider yourself invited to the Sheffield launch, at the legendary Sadacca, established by Sheffield’s Caribbean community in 1952 this Saturday, in conversation with Desireé Reynolds.  Naturally we *love* the book, but don’t take our word for it, take a look at what the critics have had to say:

Afropean seizes the blur of contradictions that have obscured Europe’s relationship with blackness and paints it into something new, confident and lyrical.

Afua Hirsch

This book is a revelation: a humane, empathetic, urgent and truly eye-opening journey through lives and voices that are so often overlooked and unheard. Johnny Pitts brings us Europe on its own terms.

Owen Jones

In Afropean, Johny Pitts has not only written a well-researched and very timely book.  He’s done so while cohering and curating a community of writers, thinkers and artists from withing Europe’s black diaspora to give voice and form to this inchoate, hybrid identity

Gary Younge

Fascinating, urgent and stirring. His humility and honesty are wonderfully refreshing and by the end of the book our perception of the old continent has been challenged and reimagined

Bernardine Evaristo

BOOK OF THE WEEK: “this is an important book and I have no doubt Pitts will soon become an important writer”

Remi Adekoya (The evening standard)

Johny Pitts visits the former Patrice Lumumba University in Moscow, where West African students are still making the most of Cold War ties with the USSR, and Clichy Sous Bois in Paris, which gave birth to the 2005 riots, all the while presenting Afropeans as lead actors in their own story

Emmanuel Iduma (Africa Writes)

BOOK OF THE WEEK: “Afropean announces the arrival of an impassioned author able to deftly navigate and illuminate a black world that for many would otherwise have remained unseen”.

Colin Grant (The guardian)

You can buy the book here

Curious? Why not take a look at the sneak preview and watch the interview with Johny Pitts here:

Next >> Photos from “Afropean – Notes on Black Europe” book launch

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Dad. Geek. Polyglot. Yomi == London / Nigeria % North-East Brasil

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