The Africa Centre’s first public annual lecture, in which Salim Ahmed Salim, OAU (Organisation of African Unity) Secretary-General, gave the keynote speech.
- Africa at the Pictures in 1990, a film festival organised by the Centre and hosted by the National Film Theatre, which featured a season of African films and seminars attended by African film directors including Haile Gerima, Flora Mbugu and Ferid Boughadir.
Second annual lecture took place the following year at the Commonwealth Institute. This time it was President Yoweri Museveni of Uganda who delivered the annual speech.
During Nigel Watt’s time, the atmosphere of the Africa Centre kept its bohemian air with the flowing presence of writers, artists, musicians, academics, and committed pan-Africanists. As the Director humbly put it, “nice things happened casually, like the first time Ngugi met Sembene Ousmane, I was there downstairs in the restaurant. It was an exciting moment.”
Adotey Bing became Director of the Africa Centre in March 1992 and held the position until June 2006 when the centre entered the present interim redevelopment phase.
Symposium of ‘African Women in Publishing’, with the contribution of writer Aminata Sow Fall and Publisher Margaret Busby.
Archbishop Desmond Tutu visited the Centre and launched the Commemoration of the ‘Day of the African Child’ and the Pan-African Book Foundation, an organisation dedicated to supplying books for students in Africa.
The government of Ghana, then led by Jerry Rawlings, placed the Africa Centre’s redevelopment plans on the agenda of the Sixtieth Ordinary Meeting of Foreign Ministers to be held in Tunis. The active support of the Ghana delegation also facilitated a seat for the Africa Centre at this important meeting. Adotey Bing then travelled to Tunis alongside two members of the Council of Management, Bill McCalister and Djibril Diallo, and together they managed to steer the item through and get it adopted. During this meeting the Organisation for African Unity arrived at a motion which recognised the Africa Centre’s work and contribution to African culture.
1994 was also an important year since it marked the resolution of the independence struggle in South Africa. This major political shift and other ongoing changes both in Africa and the UK made the Africa Centre rethink its mission. By the mid-nineties, African businesses, churches, shops, community organisations, and media and entertainment companies had become firmly established in Britain. The Centre acknowledged such developments within the Diaspora and attempted to include programmes that would reflect these advances as well as linking the latter to the potential of development repercussions in Africa. In 1998 the Director introduced an important amendment to the Africa Centre’s mission statement. The new remit of the Centre was:
“To be a flagship for Africa in Europe promoting the aspirations of Africa and its Diaspora. In particular to promote cultural, economic and socio-political initiatives in Britain and the rest of Europe that assist in the development of Africa”.
The above statement was informed by the concept of the African Renaissance, which was a vital underlying motive for Adotey Bing.
The ‘African Regional Economic Integration’ conference was one of the first events of this kind. Under the title of “United We Stand, Divided we Fall”, the lecture included speeches by Dr Kenneth Kaunda, first President of Zambia; Archbishop Makhulu, Archbishop for Central Africa and Bishop of Botswana; Professor Adebayo Adedeji, Founder of the African Centre for Development and Strategic Studies; Dr Bade Onomide, Dean of the Faculty of Law and Social Sciences, Ibadan University in Nigeria; and Dr Simba Makoni, Managing Director, Zimbabwe Newspapers.
2-day conference on ‘Increasing Educational Opportunities for African Women and Girls’. This event had contributions by education ministers and advisors from 8 different African countries and Dame Jocelyn Barrows, former Chairman of the Broadcasting Standards Council, delivered the keynote speech. That same year the Centre invited Molara Ogundipe-Leslie, the feminist critic and author of “Recreating Ourselves –African Women and Critical Transformations”, to give a talk on “Gender and Women’s Empowerment”.
V. Muruide, Lecturer in Banking at the University of Wales, gave a talk on the “Emerging stock markets in Africa”.
The Africa Centre launched the ‘Managing Contemporary Africa’ Series. These lectures were designed to engage high profile decision and policy makers in Europe and Africa and to facilitate international dialogue. The Managing Contemporary Africa Lecture Series consisted of three events. The inaugural lecture was held in February, under the title “Popular Expectations and Reality –The case of South Africa”. The featured speaker was the respected South African businessman, Mr Cyril Ramaphosa. The Second was held in September under the title “Democracy and Private Enterprise in Namibia”, and Mr Hage Geingob, then Prime Minister of Namibia, delivered the lecture. The concluding lecture of the series, entitled ‘Africa and a rights-based Approach to Development’ and held in March 1998, was given by Mrs Mary Robinson, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights at the time.
“Under the Baobab: Talking till we agree”, a monthly discussion forum, which explored contemporary issues related to development in Africa. In 1998, the Centre also invited the late Dr Tajudeen Abdul Raheem, Secretary General of the Global Pan-Africanist Movement, to deliver a lecture on ‘Pan Africanism and the African Renaissance’.
35th anniversary of the Africa Centre, a birthday which called for the celebration of the history of the Centre. An exhibition of a total of thirteen panels, containing past documents, programmes, pictures, flyers and other relevant material was put together. The Centre also organised a special African Literature Series for the occasion, featuring writers Ben Okri, Buchi Emecheta, Jack Mapanje, Veronique Tadjo, Biyi Bandele, Diran Adebayo and others.
Launch of Talking Africa, the Centre’s own weekly radio show. This was the first radio programme in London focusing exclusively on African current affairs. The programme included three sections: African news, a panel discussion, and a notice board of events.