Probably the most ubiquitous graphic African symbol is the Bono Adinkra symbol of the Akan people (modern-day Ghana), which depicts a bird flying forward with its head turned backwards and a pebble in its beak. This is a depiction of the concept of Sankofa, a Twi word loosely translated as ‘go back and get it’. As we approach the end of 2023, it is common to look back on the year, evaluate successes and lessons, and attempt to balance the scorecard as much as possible. This we must do, but the retrospective analysis is only as valuable as the imminent use that this will provide for strategic and operational purposes. You look back to learn, picking the nuggets of wisdom and knowledge with our beak, while resolutely flying forward – Sankofa!

This month is particularly poignant for us, as it is the last month of the year before we enter our 60th Anniversary…yes, 2024 will be The Africa Centre’s 60th anniversary! There is a lot more that can and will be said about this seminal anniversary throughout next year. Suffice it to say, we have a lot to be thankful for as we look back. More importantly, we need to ask and keep asking – what do we have to look forward to? What are the key lessons of the past that will be propelling us forward? How do we turn the rich heritage of the past six decades into an exciting platform for African peace, progress, and prosperity over the next six decades? These are the questions we are asking ourselves and we are intent on this being a conversation that you should all be a part of, through and around the exciting programme of activities that we are developing for 2024 and beyond. Please contact us to let us know any ideas or contributions that you would like to make to the success of our 60th anniversary.

Recent geopolitical events have demonstrated how important it is for there to be organisations such as ours to advocate and educate on matters of African concern. While the attention of the mainstream global media has been focused in recent times on the Middle East and before then, the war in Ukraine, the world also needs constant reminders of other ongoing conflicts affecting people of African origin around the world that have resulted in destruction, displacement and distress affecting millions of people for many years now – as in South Sudan and Congo. There is an ongoing situation in Venezuela/Guyana which may escalate at any time. The recent COP28 discussions revealed just how important it is for Africa to be present and loud at these forums, as the smallest contributors to global emissions with a heavy reliance on fossil fuels for developmental purposes is suffering the greatest impact of climate change. In culture, while there has been welcome recognition by UNESCO this year in recognising culture’s role as a ‘global public good’ and integral to the SDG aspirations (which are now more than halfway through the implementation period but probably less than 25% on target for achievement), Africa-specific cultural issues are not as prominent in those arenas.

All these demonstrate how important it is for The Africa Centre to be at the fore of championing and advocating on these matters and recognising not just the extant threats but also the inherent opportunities for the continent within them all (e.g. the development of climate-smart agriculture and green and blue technologies). At a more localised level, meeting brilliant older African artists who have no support system in the British arts ecosystem was a sharp reminder of some of the practical work that we still must do. Watch the space for our support initiative on this matter next year.

We have used the analogy of us being the Ministry of Transport rather than transport itself in making these happen - which means we will facilitate, strategise, platform and support as much of this agenda as we can. We will do this together.

I look forward to a wonderful 2024. Thank you for all your support in 2023 – financial, emotional, spiritual, and logistical – and here’s to making next year our best. Have a great holiday season and see you on the other side!


My Africa Centre Moment of the Month: Salifou Lindou Fouanta’s ‘Social Game’ exhibition was beautiful, provocative, and poignant.

My Cultural Highlight of the Month: Rediscovering the beautiful work of the South African singer-songwriter, Zahara, who sadly passed away at the tender age of 36 earlier this month. Rest in love and power, Ms Bulelwa Mkutukana.