2024 is going to be a seminal year. Apart from The Africa Centre celebrating its 60th anniversary this year (more information on this below), three African countries will also be celebrating their sixth decade of existence as independent nations – Tanzania, Malawi, and Zambia. This year marks the 30th anniversary of African Remembrance Day. It is the 140th anniversary of the Berlin Conference, the consequential event behind the creation of modern African nation-states. 

One of the most significant milestones we will be celebrating is the 30th anniversary of South African freedom. Yes, it is 30 years ago this March that South Africans went to the polls in its first universally enfranchised elections, which culminated in the election of Nelson Mandela as President. It is therefore poignant that we entered this New Year with the seismic news that South Africa has applied to the International Court of Justice for Israel to be charged with genocide for its ongoing prosecution of war against Palestinians in Gaza

If any country in the world has the credibility and indeed, the moral authority to institute such proceedings, then it is the country that has most vividly lived through and emerged from the horrors of what they describe in the application as the enabling “…background of apartheid, expulsion, ethnic cleansing, annexation, occupation, discrimination, and the ongoing denial of the right of the right…to self-determination…”. The application makes for sobering reading

This application is a powerful statement of active memory and ethical leadership in an environment where many politicians and states have cowered from assuming responsibility for even describing what they are seeing. South Africa is reminding the world of the lessons that history has taught us that we continuously refuse to heed – burying our heads in the sand in moments of injustice diminishes us all. In the words of Nelson Mandela, we are not free until we are all free. It will be interesting to see if other countries line up alongside South Africa in these proceedings. For now, we acknowledge their efforts in the eternal exhortation of their battle for freedom from oppression – AMANDLA!

Zambia celebrating its 60th anniversary this year is especially poignant for us at The Africa Centre, as their first democratically elected President, Kenneth Kaunda, officiated at the launch of our organisation in London, in November 1964. 

We have been putting together a programme of events for 2024 – there will be more information on this coming out in a special edition of the newsletter in a fortnight, so please look out for it. We are very excited about what the year will bring, we look forward to everyone joining us at the various events that we will be holding, hosting, and working in partnership to present and facilitate. 

Happy New Year to Everyone! May 2024 bring us all good fortune, love, light, laughter, and magical memories, Ase.

Olu Alake


My Cultural Moment of the Month: AFCON 2023 is here! Good luck to all competing nations and well done to the hosts, Ivory Coast for putting on what will be an awesome event. We are turning our building into a typical African football viewing centre for the duration of the tournament – do drop in for the closest experience to being in Lagos, Lusaka, Lilongwe, or Algiers that you will get without getting on a plane!

What I’m Reading: ‘Rumba on the River: A History of the Popular Music of the Two Congos’ by Gary Stewart – in preparation for the work that we will be doing in organising a Congolese Soukous Fest later in the year. In the meantime, you have a chance to watch them live at the Centre on 26th January.

‘It is the support of a collection of hands that makes one beat the chest confidently, a lone hand cannot lift a heavy load onto the head’ – Yoruba saying (roughly translated).