‘The Save the Africa Centre’ Campaign was triggered by an open letter to the chairman of the Africa Centre’s board of trustees. The open letter written and published by Boko Inyundo, a trustee of the Africa Centre, objected to the sale of the Africa Centre without a clear roadmap for it’s future and called for an open meeting of all stakeholders and concerned parties:
1. The trustees of the Africa Centre decided to sell the leasehold of the centre’s 38 King street building, w/out consultation with Africa Centre’s stakeholders. On 20th Feb Boko Inyundo, a trustee of the AC wrote the AC Chairman of trustees expressing concern at the decision to sell without a clear plan for maintaining the sustainability of this 40 year old charity.http://tinyurl.com/4fgn5tx
2. In response to Boko Inyundo’s letter – we wrote an open letter to the trustees of the Africa Centre requesting a public meeting in April 2011 at which the trustees were invited to explain their rationale for wanting to sell the Africa Centre and address grave concerns that not all avenues for maintaining the AC at its current location have been explored. The letter (http://tinyurl.com/4jsk8jq) generated overwhelming support, with over 400 signatories – many of them high-profile and respected members of the community. The trustees responded to this letter without addressing any of the concerns expressed by so many members of the African diaspora and their supporters who have affirmed the value of the Africa Centre and their concern about its closure or sale.
5. A further letter was sent to Boko Inyundo by the chairman of AC trustees suggesting he step down from the AC trustees but yet again not addressing any of the concerns raised in the open letter or the request for a public meeting.http://tinyurl.com/6dotbkl
The trustees issued another response – yet again not acknowledging the request for a public meeting with stakeholders of the Africa Centre. The letter was headed ‘Programmes not Property’ – Was this progress? They haven’t acceded to the request for an open meeting – however, they’ve moved to providing a rationale for their intention to sell. However, the governance issue is still there – as is the issue of where is that this renewed and re-invigorated programming is going to take place from? Why if there is a clear plan are the trustees reluctant to put this forward in a public meeting with stakeholders?
Letter to the Times
The silence of the trustees on the salient issues raised in the open letters has led to increasing public pressure on them to reconsider their decision and consult with Africa Centre stakeholders. On 6th April ten eminent Africans and friends of Africa issued a public call in The Times Newspaper calling on the trustees to have ‘second thoughts and consult on their decision. The signatories include Archbishop Desmond Tutu, Nobel Peace Laureate, Mo Ibrahim, Chairman of the Mo Ibrahim Foundation, Boris Johnson, Mayor of London, Richard Dowden, Director of the Royal African Society, and Youssou N’Dour, Musician. (A scanned copy of the letter can be found here)
The letter by Archbishop Tutu and other signatories has generated great media interest and alerted the wider public to the Save the Africa Centre campaign. London’s evening paper, The Evening Standard carried the story in both their print and online editions. It is now evident that there is wider public interest in the issues raised by the ‘Save the Africa Centre’ Campaign.
On April 13th, a letter was sent to Oliver Andrews, the chairman of the Africa Centre’s board of trustees, by Dr. Mpalive Msiska (former director of the Africa Centre), on behalf of members of the Africa Centre calling on the trustees to hold an open and public meeting, as constitutionally mandated in the Africa Centre’s Memorandum of Association. The letter requests a reply by 20th April and proposes a meeting date of Thursday, May 19th. http://tinyurl.com/3lfhzw8
In response to the request by Members of the Association requesting a meeting the Chairman of trustees issued another response that did not address the issues, denied the legitimate right of members of the association to call the trustees to account and rejected the request for a meeting. You can read the trustee’s reply here as well as our post on this letter.
A further letter was sent by Dr. Mpalive Msiska on behalf of members again re-iterating a call for an extra-ordinary general meeting and also pointed out that the trustees have to date not provided requested public information on the membership of the charity. A letter was also sent to the secretary of the charity requesting a list of Africa Centre members, which ought to be publicly available in light of the trustees disputing the membership of various petitioners. The response has been once again a dismissal of our concerns. The conciliatory and constructive character of the campaign has not been acknowledged or engaged with by the trustees. These stalling tactics are a recipe for disaster and not in the best interests of the Africa Centre.