The Africa Centre celebrates a significant year in London


In November 2024, the Africa Centre will mark its 60th anniversary. The program consists of a series of events held throughout this milestone year.

The Centre repositioned itself as “a global powerhouse and centre of excellence that will drive the narrative on Africa and the African Diaspora” after integrating its new flagship building in Southwark, London, in 2022. The Africa Centre was opened to the public 60 years ago by the late Dr. Kenneth Kaunda, Zambia’s first president, and Cardinal Lauren Rugambwa of Rwanda, as well as Margaret Feeny, its first director. The Centre has been promoting contemporary Africa and the diaspora’s accomplishments in education, the arts, entrepreneurship, innovation, and culture. It has had a long-term impact on Africans living in the UK and elsewhere.

The Africa Centre interiors

The Centre, a major cultural and heritage hub for Africa in London, serves several purposes, including “high-level advocacy, championing African excellence across all sectors, facilitating impactful cross-sectoral global partnerships, and showcasing the innovation and entrepreneurialism that will propel people of African descent forward.” The late South African Archbishop Desmond Tutu described it as a “home away from home to all who are Africans and those who have a care for the interests of the continent and its people.”

Celebrations for the anniversary

Olu Alake, the Chief Executive Officer, spoke about the anniversary. “The Africa Centre enters this year of celebrating our 60th anniversary with a profound sense of pride, gratitude, and excitement. We are reminded that this organisation stands as a testament to the vision, dedication, and passion of thousands of people of African descent who have committed themselves to bringing the continent and all its children to excellence. This year’s programme is therefore not just a retrospective celebration of what we have done but a purposeful recommitment to living those founding ideals of The Africa Centre to propel us into making a major positive impact for Africa over the next 60 years. We welcome everyone to join us in this quest.” 

The program consists of a series of events throughout the year. The Charity commemorates the 30 Years of South Africa’s Freedom in April and Nelson Mandela Day in July; the exploration of the contribution of African Footballers to the World Game and Africa’s Development; the Celebration of Africa Youth Day; a series of art exhibitions from all over Africa; as well as the African Business showcase events. “Sixty years old! Sixty years young! When you get to the ripe old age of sixty, you celebrate with your friends, thank everyone who has helped you get there, and then thank everyone who will be helping you through the next sixty years. That’s what we intend to do! All year! “, Oba Nsugbe, Chair of the Board of Trustees, exclaimed with joy. 

Olu Alake, the Chief Executive Officer of the Africa Centre explains how his mission is carried out.

How does the work of the Centre change the narrative about Africa in the United Kingdom?

The Africa Centre has since its establishment 60 years ago been a place where big ideas have been incubated, discussed and strategised on; from the early days of the agitation for independence, and post-colonial Pan Africanist project, into the Anti-Apartheid movement of the 70s and 80s and recently to the renaissance of a dynamic new African cultural identity finding expression in music, film, fashion, The Africa Centre has been in the vanguard of making Africans understand their own sense of purpose and latent greatness, while challenging and subverting lazy and often perfidious Western narratives about Africa and Africans.

“The Africa Centre has been in the vanguard of making Africans understand their own sense of purpose and latent greatness while challenging and subverting lazy and often perfidious Western narratives about Africa and Africans.”

As CEO, what is the greatest achievement you have made?

Re-establishing the organisation’s sense of mission and purpose. Opening this mission up to the next generation of young African activists, creatives and intellectuals while reconnecting the older generation to the organisation in a celebratory and honourable manner.

What are the obstacles to successfully carrying out your mission?

Finances. We need to establish a more sustainable model of financing the organisation to ensure that it can effectively deliver its programme of activities without being overly reliant on the whims and caprices of institutional funding. This is why in our 60th anniversary year, we are launching a £6m fundraising campaign with a view to ultimately developing a £60m endowment fund for the organisation in the next 5 years.

What are the coming projects or programs?

We have a whole suite of programmes and activities to celebrate our 60th anniversary which dynamically covers all our pillars of activities of arts & culture, community, education, entrepreneurism and thought leadership. These activities will cover various issues and topics of concern to people of African descent and the continent, ranging from solidifying support for the creative industries, identity reclamation of African Diaspora youth, climate justice, decolonisation in education and the maximisation of economic opportunities on the continent.  

How do you see the future of the Africa Centre?
Brave, exciting, purposeful and relevant.

Told to Alain Metodjo

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