“This feels like home – I feel seen for the first time since I moved to the UK” – a participant at our recent Para Juntar event where we celebrated the cultures of Portuguese-speaking African countries.

I have been thinking about the concept of ‘Home’ a lot recently. This has been prompted by several things: The Africa Centre’s enduring byline has been ‘A Home Away From Home’ for Africans in the UK. Throughout our history, this framing of the physical space of home as a place of refuge from the outside world, where people gather together as a family in safety to connect, celebrate and find a sense of belonging and friendship has been of great importance.

In the past month, I've met countless people at The Centre and beyond who have expressed a deep connection to The Africa Centre's previous home in Covent Garden, London, where we were for almost five decades. It's been both an exciting and humbling experience. Humbling to hear vivid and visceral recollections of countless historic moments such as the Sunday club nights with Jazzie B (Soul II Soul) and the incredible legacy of the late titan, Wala Danga and his groundbreaking shows in the Limpopo Club. Hearing all these stories fills me with awe. What's even more exciting is our communities' delight at the revival of The Africa Centre. 

We're back, with big and bold ambitions to hopefully see us through to another 60 years, as we draw inspiration from our glorious past as a springboard to an extraordinary future. It feels like coming back home after a long absence!

“Stepping into this new building, seeing that mural – I felt like I was back at home!” – a recent visitor at The Africa Centre

This demonstrates that home is more than a building – it is a concept made concrete by people connecting with each other. This latter concept of the super layering of people and place in the notion of home has also found expression through the recent and ongoing work of our amazing Young Africa Centre, which kicked off their exciting Project Homecoming earlier in the month. We've also had other partnership activities such as the ‘A Sense of Home’ collaboration with Oroko Radio and Space Black. We have had discussions with wonderful people from the global African Diaspora, who have exciting ideas about expressing the notion of home from a diaspora perspective and are keen to collaborate with us on a creative as well as deeply spiritual level.  Conversations are ongoing, exploring memories of home with recent migrants from the motherland and how we can use their art as the magic beans to sprout beanstalks of refuge, comfort and shelter.

These conversations and the revelations they engender have reinforced the ambition that we have for The Africa Centre as being not just a physical place that people call home, but a community of people who find home in and through us. This will continue to be the critical subtext and a critical success measure, for our work going forward – that we create a place of peace, joy, celebration, inspiration and love for people of African descent and our friends. We look forward to welcoming you, new and old family, home. 

“The Africa Centre is a home to all who are Africans and all those who have a care for the interest of the continent and its people” The late great Archbishop Desmond Tutu. 

Olu Alake

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