1. A Vibrant Cultural Programme – The events programme has recently been revived thanks to the enthusiasm and dedication of a few individuals and the numbers attending indicate the demand for African events in the centre of London is high and growing. Over the past few months, with the appointment of a programming consultant and the excellent work of a small volunteer force, there has been a revival of inspirational programming at the centre. In the past few weeks these events have included film screenings and panel discussions including:
- A Panel Discussion and Q & A on Food security in Africa
- Screening Africa (a regular event that has showcased films such as ‘Africa United’’)
- A Panel Discussion and Q & A on 50 years of Democracy in Africa
- A Panel Discussion and Q & A on Women and empowerment
- The Official Fela party: Hosted in collaboration with the cast of the Award-Winning Broadway Musical
- Face of Fashion4Africa
- A Talk on: Hopes for the future Sudan(s) – Negotiating North-South relations after the 9 January 2011 Referendum
2. Historical Significance – over the past fifty years the Africa Centre has been at the heart of, not only, African culture in the UK but globally. The Africa Centre has been the site of many significant moments in the life of Africa and Africans since the end of colonialism. It was the site of many of the struggles against apartheid in South Africa. It has played host to many of the greatest African and African Diaspora writers including: Chinua Achebe, Ngugi Wa’ Thiongo and Alice Walker. The Centre has been a meeting place, a cultural beacon and an iconic landmark in the centre of London for more than 40 years. Given by the Catholic Church in perpetuity to the people of Africa, huge numbers of Africans and others interested in Africa have been to meetings and events there. These people are stakeholders too and they would like a say in its future. To simply decide to sell the building without consulting them would be a betrayal of the duty of the current Trustees.
3. Africa’s moment is now – Africa has recently risen up the international agenda. Although the economic recession has affected the western world, Africa is the fastest growing region on earth at the moment. Investors, new and old, are engaged with, and in, African countries as never before. In other ways too, in the arts music and literature, Africa’s importance is experiencing a renaissance. It would be ironic if, at the very moment the rest of the world takes Africa seriously, the Africa Centre closed. Abandoning the Africa Centre now would be to lose a gilt edged opportunity, perhaps especially considering the upcoming platform offered by the 2012 Cultural Olympiad in London.