London’s Victoria & Albert Museum (V&A) has been a favourite haunt of mine over the years, dispelling the stuffiness that its name might inspire (a 19th century British monarch and her consort), by putting on exhibitions and interactive displays covering the cool and funky in art, fashion and film, from past to present, whether it be art deco, everything Che (Guevara) or fashion trends past and present. And this month, as part of its Friday Late series (last Friday of every month, except December), the V&A goes African with a mix of fashion, music, a North African style salon serving special cocktails, textile design workshops, panel discussions…

Amongst the excitement several films will be screened, including two documentaries, Stocktown Africa and Dolce Vita Africana (trailers below).

Stocktown South Africa takes viewers beyond the stereotypical stories of AIDS, poverty and violence that often come out of South Africa, introducing instead underground music and style, capturing the creative energy and street vibes of Cape Town and Johannesburg. Directed by Swedish based Teddy Goitom and Benjamin Taft, Stocktown South Africa is the lastest in a series of cultural “road movies” that have so far included Japan, USA and Australia on its itinerary.

Dolce Vita Africana is a documentary about celebrated Malian photographer Malick Sidibe, whose iconic images of his country from the late 1950s through to the 1970s captured the carefree spirit of his generation asserting their freedom after independence. If you’re into photography and African culture, chances are you’ve come across a Sidibe photograph at least once in your life, whether via a photo shared on Facebook or as the backdrop design/exhibition of a certain central London fusion eaterie. Dolce Vita Africana is directed by British filmmaker Cosima Spender whose previous credits include a 2004 TV documentary, The Importance of Being Elegant, which featured, among others, world famous Congolese soukous musician, Papa Wemba.

And if you really want to feel like you’re part of it all, you can have your black and white portrait taken by Sal Idriss in a Malick Sidibe-esque West African portrait studio. Facebook friends should look out for a new profile pic from me in July. 🙂

It promises to be an enteraining evening and, what’s more, it’s free! Friday Late: Afropolitans takes place at the V&A on June 26th, from 6:30pm to 10:00pm. You can visit the V&A website for further details.