Do you remember George Floyd? Of course, you do. It is interesting though, to ask yourself what you remember about him, and those turbulent months that followed his murder. Some may remember it as the birth of Black Lives Matter and all the different things this meant to us. Other readers may point to it as the moment of their political awakening. For those of us slightly longer in the tooth, we may recall it as another ‘moment’ in global racial politics, where the optimists amongst us hoped that this time would be different while the sceptics rolled their eyes with a resigned ‘Here we go again’ sigh.

What gave the George Floyd moment a cautious cause for optimism was that there was a widespread outpouring of support from areas usually reluctant to engage with issues of race and prejudice. The corporate sectors did what had been unthinkable to that point – unprompted, they opened their wallets and made contributions to various Black causes. Many African-focused organisations were indeed beneficiaries of this. However, we must question how sustainable this has been – how many initiatives to improve diversity and redress racial inequalities launched 3 or 4 years ago are still around now? Has this meant that the issues have gone away? As noted in last month’s blog, that is patently not the case. So, has the corporate social responsibility agenda moved on ‘en masse’ to something else? This is why it was so good that at The Africa Centre, we have hosted some of the corporate organisations that are still walking this talk, as with the recent networking event of ING Media’s Elevate programme, an initiative to provide strategic communications support to diverse-led start-ups in the built environment sector.

While the attention of the world is currently and rightly on some serious geopolitical issues, this should not deflect from us all offering more local solutions to local issues, and supporting the organisations that are doing the hard yards. In an environment where funding for charitable organisations is diminishing at a time when need is increasing exponentially, this has not been more pressing and is existential for many charities. It is to ensure that we have a strong funding base from which we can develop the impactful programmes that will enable us to further our mission, The Africa Centre recently revamped its Corporate Membership programme and launched a new initiative called The CEO Circle– a network of individuals and organisations committed to supporting us on an ongoing basis. We are so grateful to the people who have signed up for this already – your contributions are making a massive difference for us. 

If anyone else is wondering how they can be a part of the Circle or other ways to support us, please drop me a line. And if not us, we should all remember that we all have some responsibility to prevent future George Floyd-type issues and make the world a better place where systemic issues of inequality and prejudice are addressed and ultimately eliminated. So please remind your organisations and leaders of the commitments they made a few years ago, review the impact they made with their momentary contributions, assess the issues still abounding and reach out to the organisations doing the work to partner with them in their efforts.

We can make a difference. With clear minds and resolute hearts, we will. 

Olu Alake


My Africa Centre Highlight of the Month:

Attending the Africa No Filter Summit in Nairobi. (Although Kenya now owes me a proper birthday celebration, as I had to travel back halfway through my big day!)

Cultural Highlight of the Month:

The Africa Centre Icon Angelique Kidjo’s 40th anniversary celebratory performance at the Royal Albert Hall. 

‘We do not inherit the earth from our ancestors we borrow it from our children’ - Haida Proverb.