A meeting for the Africa Centre

Thursday January 26th 2012, 19:00 – 21:00
SOAS, Room B102, Brunei Gallery

On Thursday, 26th January, The Save The Africa Centre Campaign is holding a meeting for supporters, members, friends and trustees of the Africa Centre to contribute their voices to the way forward for the Africa Centre and The Save The Africa Centre Campaign in 2012. Don’t miss this important opportunity to participate in the future of the UK African Diaspora’s foremost institution by attending on the day; with a special performance by singer and songwriter Bumi Thomas; this is an important occasion and opportunity to add your voice to revitalizing the Africa Centre in this Olympic year.

To facilitate a smooth event on the day, please register at: by Wednesday 17th January



STAC nominated for 2011 South African Club (London) Award

Dear STAC supporters,
Please could you post a comment at the bottom of this weblink within the next 3 days?
Your comments will help you / the Save the Africa Centre (STAC) team secure an award for our ongoing efforts to revitalise the Africa Centre at 38 King Street in Covent Garden, London. The award is partly influenced by the number of written comments each of these fantastic nominees receives on the South African newspaper’s website.
The Save the Africa Centre campaign has been nominated for the 2011 South African Business Club (London) Awards and Boko Inyundo has been invited to attend the awards ceremony on 24 November. The nomination is in this prestigious awards’ “Charity of the Year” category. The recognition is for the “phenomenal work” that you and the STAC team have been doing to save the Africa Centre and for the “phenomenal online marketing campaign to canvass support for this landmark venue in London“.
The STAC team takes this opportunity to thank all our petitioners for their incredible support over the last few months. We also humbly thank the South African Business Club as well as the newspaper, the South African, for this accolade. We have been truly blessed by the support we have received from South Africa which not only includes this nomination but also the public support from Archbishop Desmond Tutu and the South African High Commission in London.
We leave you with a quote left by one of our petitioners, Adam Neill, based in Cape Town when he signed STAC’s online petition –  “When you sell our history, you sell your soul”. We hope that the Board of trustees of the Africa Centre take heed of this call.
With all our thanks
The Save the Africa Centre campaign team

Stirrings of Engagement

Dear Friends

As you know the Save The Africa Centre campaign began over six months ago with the aim of highlighting the secret sale of the Africa Centre, and the lack of community consultation around the decision to sell the charity’s only significant asset and historic home, 38 King Street, Covent Garden to property developer, Capital and Counties.

Since the campaign began STAC has pushed for more engagement with the community from trustees. We now understand that as part of the process of considering the alternative proposals put to them by Hadeel Ibrahim and David Adjaye, which would secure a future for the Africa Centre at 38 King Street.

The Africa Centre trustees have commissioned a round of consultation about the future of the Africa Centre. This consultation is occurring as follows:

1. A series of interviews with particular Africa Centre stakeholders, particularly, as we understand long-time players in Africa-centred, or Africa-led organisations in London. The target group of this consultation is about 50 people. STAC is not privy to the names on this list.

2. An online survey which has been circulated through the Africa Centre’s database and other means. The Save The Africa Centre campaign team have agreed to circulate this survey to STAC supporters while retaining reservations about the construction of the survey – which implies a bias to move the Africa Centre from its current location rather than an open survey about the charity itself.

Nevertheless, it’s important that this opportunity to engage the opinion of the diaspora is not passed, and we would urge all supporters to complete the survey and express their opinions as vigorously as possible.

The Africa Centre survey can be accessed here:

2. The Save The Africa Centre campaign has not been formally approached for consultation – however a member of our team was approached and has informally given feedback, whilst this was informed by soundings from other members of the Save The Africa Centre campaign – it remains an informal submission.

Lastly, it should be added that the continued engagement from us all as members of the African Diaspora, friends of Africa continues to be crucial in securing a vital future for the Africa Centre; despite the limitations of this consultative process, we are keen to nurture any signs of progress from where we were six months ago – when the Africa Centre at 38 King Street faced the prospect of being sold without the knowledge or consultation of the African Diaspora community, its friends or supporters. On this basis, we commend what appears to be stirrings of engagement and stress our commitment to a revitalised Africa Centre at 38 King Street, Covent Garden.

What do you Want – a report on the STAC survey on support for the Africa Centre

Dear Friends and Supporters of the Save The Africa Centre Campaign,

Earlier in the summer, in support of the Ibrahim & Adjaye proposal to refurbish the Africa Centre at 38 King Street and establish a sustainable future for the Africa Centre as a charity, STAC agreed to canvas STAC supporters with a survey of all those who signed the STAC Petition. This survey sought to collect views and opinions from the wider community on:

Membership of the Africa Centre
The wider community’s expectations of the Africa Centre
Suggestions on how greater participation by the wider community could be promoted.

Over 10% of registered supporters on the STAC campaign’s database responded to the survey  – representing an above average response rate – and we attach, as promised, the summary of the data collected from this survey for your information. The data was summarised by an independent researcher, Adaoma Wosu, a PhD student at UCL who was not involved in the survey design or the administration of the Survey.

With best wishes
The Save the Africa Centre Campaign team

Dear Save The Africa Centre Campaign Supporters

Dear Save The Africa Centre Campaign (STAC) supporters
We trust that you have had a lovely August/September and that the last quarter of 2011 is to bring us the inspiration we continue to search for! This is an update to STAC petitioners on the status and progress of our campaign. We thank you for your continued support and bring you an update on the latest actions and developments in the campaign to Save the Africa Centre. 
UPDATE on latest STAC actions
1.     STAC requests assurances on transparency in trustees’ process of reviewing Ibrahim/ Adjaye proposal
2.     STAC submission to UNESCO
3.     STAC executes survey with community
Process / timelines for trustees’ review of the Ibrahim / Adjaye proposal
We now believe that the trustees have appointed an independent consultant to review the alternative investors’ proposal submitted by the Ibrahim / Adjaye team on 12 August 2011. We believe the consultant is to review the proposal against the trustees’ own stated aspirations to sell 38 King Street and move to an, as yet still unconfirmed, alternative premises.

Although we have not been notified directly, we understand that the trustees are to inform the alternative investors of their findings in mid-October. STAC can also confirm that several potential other funders have now expressed interest in knowing more about the trustees’ evaluation process in order to understand whether there is still an opportunity for other parties to invest.

STAC therefore request assurances from trustees that the selection process is to be entirely transparent and, again, we reiterate, involves the community, i.e. the Friends of the Africa Centre whom the charity is there to serve. The supporters of the STAC campaign now number 4,000+ persons and their original demands for greater openness and opportunity to participate remains in place (the trustees’ appointment of circa 14 new members of the association just prior to the 20 June 2011 EGM that took the membership to a total of only 30 members was hardly a dynamic shift in the governance of this charitable trust). 
STAC Survey
STAC continues to actively enable the community to have its say in the decision to move from, or stay at, 38 King Street, arguably the most significant decision the charity has faced in its 50 year history. To this end STAC has been conducting a survey which you will have received over recent weeks in which we’ve asked members of our community how they want to support the Africa Centre and what benefits they would value most as supporters of this arts and cultural trust. Thanks to the many supporters that have completed this survey and we urge those that have yet to complete it to do so within the next 2 weeks. STAC will share the findings when the data has been fully analysed.

Some illuminating trends so far:

– More women than men have responded (should there be more women on the Board?);
– More people in the 35-45 year old bracket have responded whilst a significant proportion are 18-25 suggesting a youthful appetite for 38 King Street, even amongst those who were not familiar with the Africa Centre in its earlier days (perhaps the charity’s Board should include more representatives of this age range?);

Out of all the art forms, music is a very clear attraction; including both live music and club nights (perhaps the trustees should consider allowing a STAC musical extravaganza at 38 King Street to celebrate with trustees a collective belief that we can inspire renewed optimism of a sustainable future there for 50 more years?).
 UNESCO submission
STAC has also submitted this letter to UNESCO, the highly respected multi-lateral cultural organisation, asking for its support on this matter. This letter represents a formal application to UNESCO for the protection and conservation of the Africa Centre Limited’s 38 King Street headquarters in central London’s Covent Garden district. STAC fears that, as the current Board of Trustees are actively seeking to sell a 125 year leasehold to a major property developer who intends to change the premises use entirely by introducing a men’s fashion retail outlet, this would mean that this premises’ connection with Africa and its history will be lost for ever. This submission shows how we – you and the 4,000+members of the African Diaspora community supporting STAC – believe 38 King Street is an immovable asset of this UK-based charitable trust, a building which, during almost 50 years of freehold ownership by the charity, has been the destination hub for a definable community, making it a significant and irreplaceable cultural asset for the African Diaspora in the UK as well as for all Africans and those interested in Africa globally.

It is hoped that this application will complement ongoing efforts to promote and safeguard the heritage represented by 38 King Street, given its rich history as the pre-eminent arts and cultural destination in central London, for the African Diaspora and those interested in Africa generally.
We will keep you updated on progress in relation to this application.
Gratitude: eminent Africans attendance at prospective 38 King Street (re)opening ceremony?!

Finally note that STAC is currently in the process of updating and thanking the many eminent persons in our community for their early and continued support of the campaign. Although not wanting to tempt fate (!), this communication includes a request to certain individuals for a commitment to formally open the revitalised 38 King Street building envisioned in the Ibrahim / Adjaye proposal. We do this to demonstrate that the STAC team is, in fact, a group of eternal optimists expressing good faith in the process underway – so watch this space!

And Lastly,
The Save the Africa Centre Campaign team will keep you posted on all developments as we move forward into the last quarter of 2011, ever nearer 2012, the year London is set to host the Olympic Games! Trustees – and we leave you and the trustees of our beloved Africa centre with this final question, do we dare miss the opportunity London 2012 presents the Africa Centre and 38 King Street in the heart of the city’s leisure and entertainment district?
With best wishes
The Save The Africa Centre Campaign Team
Tom Chigbo, Chipo Chung, Franck Dossa, Elizabeth Dudley, Susana Edjang
Dele Fatunla, Boko Inyundo, Dr. Mpalive Msiska, Debbie Simmons, Onyekachi Wambu 

Yours For a Day: Funmi Adewole Kruczkowska

Photo: Simon Richardson

1. Your name, what you do (are doing) and your favourite African song/music video? 

My name is ‘Funmi Adewole Kruczkowska.  I am a Performing Arts lecturer and a Dance researcher. I also freelance as a storyteller and movement artist.  Right now I am packing my bags for a trip to Nigeriaand Ghana– to see family and friends that I have not seen for a long, long time. My favorite song is Premier Gaou by Magic System.

I am also mad about ‘Wata No Get Enemi’ by Fela Anikulapo-Kuti.  Neither are new songs but they are great dance tunes. As for videos – I like the comic musical videos made by Naija Boyz. Type ‘African Remix- Naija boyz’ in the YouTube search engine for a range of their videos, which are an ‘African’ take on chart songs such Beyoncé’s ‘Single Ladies’. They are a scream.

2. What are your memories of the Africa Centre and or hopes for the Africa Centre’s future?

I first heard about the Africa Centre before I left Nigeriain 1994. I was told by fellow media people to check it out. I did just that. I was excited to walk through those doors and chat to staff, look at the notice board, check the exhibition, browse in the bookshop. I was proud of the central London location and its sense of history. It was quite memorable performing there years later, a few times with different theatre companies. At one point there was an African market, which was great. The uncomfortable facilities made the dance class less so. I also remember engaging in bemused conversations with other artists. Some of us had tried to initiate projects in collaborate with the Centre the way other spaces seem to be doing but nothing seemed ever to go anywhere. In future I would like to see lots of activities organized by the Centre, which reflect a diversity of interests –academic, cultural, political and social. Given the economic situation however, the Centre would have to devise new models of collaboration, partnership and fundraising. But there are hardly any outlets or space to investigate the culture of post-independent Africa, recent history or the issues of African communities inEurope, or engage in intercultural dialogues.  There are few spaces where ‘Africa’ is leading the discussion and setting the perspective.  It would also be an opportunity to investigate the business ideas (as opposed to the frauds and scams) of innovative people on the continent or those who work transnationally.

3. ‘If you could take over the Africa Centre’s Auction Hall for a day – what would you do?’

If I could take over the Africa Centre’s ‘Auction Hall’ for a day what would I do?  Depends on the time of the year, the occasion or the theme of the season. A mixture of talks, performance, workshops and networking appeals to me.  Let’s imagine the theme is ‘Arts and Business’ – an idea close to my heart at the moment. I would start about 1pm, on a Saturday, with a panel/seminar on the topic.  About 3pm we would have an entertainment fair – a cross between a trade fair and a variety show.  There would be stalls set up belonging to theatre companies and other art groups and businesses. Activities would include: a networking, speed-dating style event for arts and business people, workshops, and short performances, screenings, and comedy dotted though out the day. This event could be geared to promote a number of things, volunteering, crowd funding, collaboration etc. We could round off the event with a concert with dancing or club night. Or is the half a day up already?