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Save The AFRICA CENTRE

Africa Centre

I have received many emails recently calling for the Africa Centre to be saved from sale. I thought that perhaps this one carries the most weight.  I cannot comment on the sale objectively , living outside London as I do.  I do however know how important the centre has been to Africans and Black Londoners in General. Please leave your comments below.

 

COLLECTIVE VOICES CALLING FOR REASON

Adam Neill, Capetown. When you sell our history, you sell your soul

We Ask You To Save The AFRICA CENTRE at 38 King Street, Covent Garden

Ngugi Wa Thiong’o Out of the Africa center in the heart of London has come history. Over the years the center has captured the heartbeat of the continent in the world. Please let it not die

adura onashile I grew up going to the nights that were put on at the Africa centre, from live music to club nights to comedy and its demise is a sad and unnecessary waste. Surely it is possible with good programming to restore it to the hub of African activity it used to be? Buildings have history, when they go something goes with them which is why we preserve them and what they stand for, so that each generation never forgets the one before, so that each generation can see the journey of its people.

Paul Anderson (MBE) This is so sad and it seems of vital importance that our leaders listen to the calls from within and from those from the outside.

Cyrille Cartier Please renounce the sale of Africa Centre and listen to the voices of the people who have signed their name against lack of transparency, against privatization of a communal good and for democratic process.

H OLABODE OSENIE THE TRUSTEES SHOULD BE TOLD OF AN AFRICAN ADAGE THAT SAYS IF A MAN SELLS HIS PROPERTY CHEAP HE MAY NOT BE ABLE TO BUY IT BACK AT THE SAME PRICE.WE SHOULD BE PROTECTING WHAT WE HAVE LIKE OTHER NATIONS OF THESE WORLD PROTECTING THEIR MESEUMS OF ALL KINDS. OTUNBA H OLABODE OSENIE

John Aldridge Hold on. If you are going to sell up, then do it properly at an open meeting. My vote will be against selling, partly, as I have good memories of meetings here in the 60s, including one with the late Eduardo Mondlane who was sadly assassinated soon afterwards, and partly because I believe greater efforts can find a viable future for the centre. For

example, Kwame Akuffo’s recent African art show was excellent.

John Denison I have a number of interests in different African countries and know a number of people in London of African origin. I am very concerned that this sale is proposed without due consultation and appears suspiciously over-hasty.

 

Lawrence Mbugua The Diaspora cannot afford to lose such a central location. We’ve left the Africa Centre slide into disuse but that is no reason not to get engaged. Better late than never.

 

Melvin Cox The African Connections Research and Education Fund (ACREF) strongly opposes the sale of Africa Centre. Vital institutions in our community must be maintained, supported and expanded.

Herty QUAO I think selling the African Centre is not the best option.

Stephen Rockel When I first arrived in London in 1978 I had a joyous evening at the Africa Centre dancing to Dudu Pukwana, my first exposure to South African live jazz. I have been hooked ever since. This place is central to the postcolonial African experience in the UK, and gave a warm welcome to friends of Africa like myself. Please find a way to keep it open, and revive the great programming that used to exist.

Catherine Gegout Please do not destroy history and culture

Ghislaine Lydon This was a gift to the African people. There is a saying in French “Donner, c’est donner. Reprendre c’est voler.” In other words taking this gift away would constitute theft.

Nick James Since the 1980s going to the Africa was a huge highlight for any visit that I made to London. I have loved it and hope that it can be sustained in that location.

 

Joshua adekeye This is an outrage, to say the least, I really hope this helps

Diana Jeater The Africa Centre was an essential element in my development as a world expert in Zimbabwean history – and in my recognition that Africans need the resources to become experts in their own history. This is a unique and hallowed space where genuinely free speech nurtured insights and aspirations across generations. We need it now as much, if not more, than ever. And ‘We don’t mind that the building is a dive – what interests us is if there is a vibe.’

Kakra Akuffo Fellow Africans and friends of the Centre, can we not start a campaign to buy this place up ourselves? For once let us put our money into this. It’s not always we have to wait for someone to rescue us. Every little helps. Any takers on this?

Douglas Johns Once again, we see Trustee’s, who are the Servants of those who have put them in place, trying to reverse roles; primarily it would seem, for greed on their part! Now is the time to stop the frankly evil behaviour, that is being perpetrated by a minority of irresponsible people!

Oladele Osinuga It would be a travesty and great disservice to Africans in diaspora if the Trustees proceeded to the sale of this iconic building. The profits to be made from such sale should not be made at the expense of what is of benefit to Africans the value of which is immeasurable and unquantifiable. It is in our hearts and the drive for profits shouldn’t be used as an excuse to deviate from what the building was initially intended for by its donors.

rod Gilmore I spend many happy hours in the Africa centre dancing and socialising. It would be a shame to see those memories torn down!

Martin Osengor 38 King’s Street, Covent Garden provides a central and strategic location for the African community to meet and interact!

The Africa Centre has a high heritage value which ought to be passed down to the younger generation! The board ought to reconsider the sale of this historical site for the benefit the younger African generation! Very little consultation has been carried out to justify the Sale!

Gavin Durrant It is a unique and wonderful venue with a great history of events and exhibitions.

Frederic Mudzingwa This place has been an inspiration for black people and it has symbolised black aspirations for generations. It will be synonymous with destroying those aspirations which have kept black people going. It will be a traverse of justice.

 

 

Jessica Thomas What you must understand is that the importance of a building is not the construction itself, but the cohesion it promotes inside. The Africa Centre has been an integral part of the community for nearly 50 years, how can that presence be ignored? The longer people continue to undertake decisions focused entirely on money, the slower society will develop.

Leonard Harding The Africa Centre is a cultural Hub and for many Africans and other nationalities alike a symbol of togetherness and unity it means something to the community and must remain open for the droves of people that congregate there.

Nathan Banana The building has become a part of the African society, a little big Africa in London. I hope the Trustees do reconsider

and withdraw their intentions to sell.

Dayo Israel The Africa Center is as Symbolic to Africans as Buckingham Palace is to Britain. Please save the Africa Center and help foster community relationship in the African Community

John Mukungunugwa Africa Centre is not just a meeting place for Africans but a cultural centre for those who want to learn about African cultures. It links London with Africa in a very social and humane way. Rather than selling the centre, more funding should be found for its improvement for the benefit of Londoners and its visitors.

Christina Ndlovu NOT SEPARATE AFRICA.

Babajide Peters please keep the Africa center open

Mataya Chewaluza I have been going to the Africa Centre since 1967. I got my first job there as Administrative Assistant under Margaret Finney. There is no place like the Africa Centre where people from all across Africa can meet and learn about each other. It is the greatest cultural centre for African people in the United Kingdom. Music. Food and Culture.

ZENZO NCUBE The trustees of this centre must do more to include all African communities in the UK. The main reason the centre struggles today is simple lack of inclusion of all African communities some of whom could assist and financially support

 

Tirzah Loewenstein It’s been a valuable part of my being in London ever since I arrived here from Zimbabwe in 1970 and I’d hate The Africa Centre- and its activities – to disappear.

Gary Horsman It’s 34 years since i first went there!

Mabinty Samura This has been a meeting place for people not only of Africa and the diaspora but also for those who love this great continent and all that it has to offer. Please rethink your decision.

Sara Aisu Please save it.

Francis Puemo The centre MUST remain open at all costs

nick cash Have fond memories of the Africa centre having played there as a musician. Huge shame to close another venue and cultural centre.

Munyaradzi Dangarembizi Please let us maintain the African Cultures meeting place!

Erin macdonnell I love the Africa centre . I’ve spent so much time there, and it has inspired my life. Stella Chiweshes first lecture and performances were held there, and I’m now a player. I’ve enjoyed language lessons there too, and many, many amazing concerts.

Garry Ellison I have grown up with fond memories of the Africa Centre. I am 43 and through life I have been encouraged about the human-ness of all people by places like the Africa Centre, seeing people co operate and integrate in life.

Paul Shearsmith Don’t be daft.

Khosi Manaka Africa Centre must be saved

George Onwuemene All my years in UK, I had no idea such a centre exist. It will be of interest to preserve this centre for our African pride. If this centre is kept it will serve a big plus for hosting events and bring huge revenue for Africans in diaspora. It could be the next INDICO like we have in South East London. Please Africans support this cause. MAY GOD HELP US!!!

Samson Chibambo The only African focal point I have ever known since the seventies. To rid of is tantamount to the discouragement of African cultural cohesion.

NYARARAI JOHN-NGURUVE The Africa Center was the heartbeat of African Cultural events in the UK all year round. most if not all the music greats of Africa have at one time passed through and performed there. It just has too much institutional memory and history to just disappear at 38 Kings street. and must be saved.

 

Hassan Korsy Please do not close one of the very very very few Africa connections in the centre of London.

 

Philip Morgan I have worked, performed & partied, etc at the Africa Centre on a number of occasions back in the 1980s and early 1990s. This venue should continue to be a place where people of the African Diaspora can meet, work and perform, etc..The pursuit of money & material things more often than not leads to the destruction of humanity and the spirit (soul).This appears to be the objective of most if not all….Which partially explains the current state of just about everything & anything!! Selah.

 

Rachel Kabambe Please please keep the Africa centre open. It is vital for African Music, Arts and Culture to thrive in London

 

Rachel Bartlett The Africa Centre has been a platform for African culture and music which is open to all cultures to enjoy. this is to too great a gift to lose.

Ticha MalulekeI would like to save the Africa Centre as I have been there for many years and it help people keep in touch. Thanks.

 

William Embliss I’ve been to here hear some amazing bands and was inspired by this to go to Africa (Senegal and Gambia) and learn from musicians there. on returning some musicians I saw at The Africa centre playing Akedindas inspired me to try making xylophones. I now make xylophones for schools. So this cultural hub has been seminal in my life.

Lyric Elle Africans need to place their money in beneficial areas such as proposing to buy the building between us. Only we can strengthen ourselves.

 

Jon Petter London would be poorer for the closure of this unique resource, a place I have visited since the 80s. Please explore EVERY avenue for keeping it open.

pa bobo jobarteh together we can make it.

r. clay don’t do it!!!

Jairo Nyaongo The Africa Centre should remain as a Symbol for African Struggle for freedom and Unity. the Centre to be made known to African  Diaspora

Debbie Gee The Africa Centre is so unusual as a Black oriented people’s centre in the centre of London. It’s so historic with such amazing informal & formal gatherings happening there – has introduced the greatest names in African – global music from Angelique Kidjo – Jazzie B to the world & housed the finest lectures from Amos Tutuola & Maya Angelou – Forward . It must stay and be developed – long term board corruption – squandering a major lottery grant into nothing must be put aside for its renewed life

Torera MutinhiMbira Mpedzisi I Am the Artistic Director of The Pan-Afrikan Kultural Movement, with 321 members. Our organisation has been involved

with the Africa Centre, through music and cultural workshops/performances, to perpetuate Afrikan Kultural heritage/recognition in the diaspora and internationally. Our organization would like to express our dismay and utter disgust at the way we, as loyal patrons of The Africa Centre, have been neglected, ignored and excluded in its future.

Don’t sell The Africa Centre, please!!!

lee guest Too much good has come from this place to have it closed, please reconsider the options.

 

Helle Makoni The Africa Centre is a unique place. And for me personally it’s very special because that was where my husband and I had our first date 21 years ago.

Greg Well Please, Please, Please don’t do it.

Cass Greenley It would be a crime to sell such a piece of history for so many people. For what? Another generic global chain of something we don’t need that only robs London further of its identity.

Christian Burt Save this historic venue!

Nat Perez As an African living in London for fifty years it will be sorely missed by me and many, many others.

Marcelene Madzikanda There is a global movement ready to revive the centre for future generations. Let’s not miss this opportunity.

 

Simwinji Zeko Who stands to gain from selling the building on? It is in a prime location. The Africa Centre had a pivotal influence in my subsequent decision to stay on in the UK in 1987. From small acorns do mighty oaks grow. Are the trustees abdicating their responsibilities or has the centre become an albatross around their necks? While the Royal Opera house round the corner gets millions in funding, why is the Africa Centre left with very little?

Perry chitombo it’s the most central location for meeting a lot of people in the diaspora. Please do not close the centre of excellence.

 

Francis Shupo The taking away of this facility disenfranchises us Africans in the UK and goes against all we have tried to build for future generations to come.

JAY OTOO IN A PROGRESSIVE WORLD, WHY DO THE TRUSTEES HAVE TO BE SO LAMENTABLY DIM AND REGRESSIVE IN THIS DAY AND AGE. OF ALL THE THINGS ONE COULD THINK OF DOING WITH THE AFRICAN CENTRE AND ITS PRIME POSITIONING THE LAST THING THAT SHOULD BE ON THEIR MINDS IS TO DISPOSE OF IT. THEY ARE NOT FIT TO MANAGE THIS CENTRE IF THAT IS THEIR TAKE ON IT. WHY CAN’T WE EVER FIND COMPETENT PEOPLE TO RUN THE AFRICAN CENTRE?

 

 

zack moyo assign the centre to one organisation with proven integrity to run the centre on behalf of the trustees

 

 

Wangui goro The educational and cultural impact of the Africa Centre cannot be under-estimated. This should not be allowed to happen in a society which is a show case for global multi-cultural and cosmopolitan living, social justice and equality of which the Africa Centre has been a vanguard, pioneer and custodian over the decades. The Africa Centre is important for the cultural global renaissance and is a beacon of hope for many across the world. (see)

http://www.pambazuka.org/en/category/features/38357

 

 

Ruhi Hamid This is a historical place that has been a home for African exiles, a place of art and culture. Many a heated discussion has taken place under this roof. Many revolutions have been planned and a drink or two shared. Keep it alive for future generations.

 

BARBARA QUARCOO Did I hear that it is being sold for £60million? That it is a grade 2 listed building which disallows any refurbishment for the purposes of the centre for Africa. That they have truly almost completed a purchase of a better and modern venue within the same area fit for the origin purpose? If that is all true and the money is truly being diversified for the original purpose and the new premises it is a stone’s throw from 38 Kings Street WC1/2 then fine.

Lucia Dube The Africa Centre should remain a good resource for Africans to come together and deal with the challenges facing the continent.

Nana Ama Amamoo This is the only space for all Africans in the UK. It will be a sacrilege to sell it. It is in a very location and should be able to generate its own commercial income from well thought out projects.

Phil bergan please save my alma mater

Simon Makoni The Africa Centre was a hugely important cultural reference point for as a young British bred African. I fear that other young British Africans will be deprived of this crucial resource if the Africa Centre is shut down. There is no alternative

that even comes close to the Africa Centre. Please keep it open.

 

 

Conrad Mwanza Africa Centre is a historical place and needs to be preserved; in fact it should be a listed building

Wala Danga We are saddened to hear about this intended sale. We at Limpopo Club started the live African music concerts at the Africa center in the early 80s and made it one of the most viable cultural platforms for African musicians from Africa and Europe. It was here we managed to give a platform to international recognition for most of the African Bands on the

circuit e.g. Angelique Kidjo; Baaba Maal; Thomas Mapfumo; Bembeya Jazz; Les Amazones de Guinee; Bhundu Boys to name a few, We support this petition fully

 

Leslie Maruziva selling this wonderful gift to the people of Africa would be a tragedy. It would stink of short-sightedness and would be a great loss to the future generation of people like Desmond Tutu and other future leaders who have found this venue as a

home from home.

Neil Bowman I believe it is important the community is consulted before any substantial decisions are made regarding the future of the Africa Centre.

Joseph Oladosu It will be a sham that with the population descendants from Africa in Europe and in UK especially, such an edifice will be lost. Will this happen if it was call Asian Centre? We the sons and daughters of Africa need to stop agonising and get organise.

 

Shad Bulimo African Centre is a symbol of Anglo-African relationship that dates back more than several decades. It the institution of choice for African leaders, scholars, poets, musicians and other professionals. Besides being a social forum, the African Centre is a one-stop facility for anyone interested in learning about African culture whether it is children born of African heritage or indigenous White populations. Closing such an essential facility is an antithesis of cultural integration policy.

Cathryn Connolly I love the Africa Centre and have spent many happy hours there. It was always a breath of fresh air to be able to visit a place in Covent garden that wasn’t some unaffordable, corporate enterprise. Please keep this cultural centre and keep out the Starbucks etc.

Liz Graham I really miss the Africa Centre: it was a great place to eat apart from anything else!!

 

 

Ian McQuaid It would be a great shame to move such an iconic building; the place has great historical significance in London’s cultural landscape

 

Sebastian Miyanza Please save the Centre as its functionality is priceless. You cannot quantify its current positive effects.

Peter Ellis I think the loss of the Africa Centre would be a victory of short-term, short-sighted financial gain at the expense of Africa and the African people: a story that’s run too many times and must end.

 

Carole Allsop Don’t let the Africa Centre disappear.

 

Cloud Shnye Save the African centre

 

Nirupa Sing To sell this property would be a great loss for artists from Africa and elsewhere. The City of London should help to keep it alive as a hub of creativity in this populated centre of London!

 

 

Anne Asuquo pls it should not be closed it does help people get jobs not everyone is getting jobs here in the UK this company helps ppl including Africans find jobs in Africa

 

 

Eleanor Denison I Know from a number of contacts how much this centre is needed in London, and I do not believe it right to sell it with so little consultation.

 

Chidi Efika Please keep the African centre open.

 

 

Ana Santana I owe a lot to the Africa Centre. It helped enormously in my integration in British society as a non-English speaking African in the first years of my settling in the UK. There I bought books on Africa, had meals at the restaurant, attended African dance classes, music workshops, conferences and debates on the most pertinent issues to the present and future of Africans in London and the Diaspora in general. I hope it doesn’t close so that future generations can benefit as much as I did from it.

Janet wainaina I support African acts and the African centre is a big resource.

 

 

Tunde Orimoloye It is essential to detail issues that are relevant to the African centre. Essence of selling it, alternatives that may be available…etc..

 

 

Akinola Ogunsola Protecting a good heritage.

Olusegun Sadiq I believe an attempt to sell the Centre will amount to gross mistakes which will have serious effect on the rather miscalculated expected benefit. The Centre has served for so many years as a heritage to the entire Continent of Africa with great service not only to Africans from around the globe but also to the Country (UK) it is situated. I humbly suggest wider consultation should be embarked upon as an alternative to the option of selling the Centre. Thank you.

Stanley Jacobs I support the petition to save the Africa Centre.

Samuel Sade Stop this please.

Rilwan Badiru Please save Africa Centre, it has served and still serving as a focal point for African

Nzube Eleigwe Dear Africa Centre Trustee,

Sequel to the above petition to save the Africa centre, I will like to add that the centre has been invaluable in both global talent attraction and management. I am from Nigeria though presently am living in UK, but I have seen most of my friends being successful and thus contributing to an effective knowledge transfer to aid some our (African) developing nations. So I do plead with you to reconsider your decisions and save this great citadel of Talent home.

 

 

jen nya save the building

Vivien Dams We definitely need the centre to be left for the Africans. It’s not just the building its where we call it home, an asset and only asset, a place of meetings, a cultural setting and a landmark. These are important reasons why the building should not be sold.

 

 

TOPE FALADE DO NOT SELL!!!

Gerald lenny We can anything but not everything is for sale. Please save our building

Ricky Mujaji African heritage has got to be preserved and showcased. This is only possible with standing up to prevent the closure of Africa centre

 

 

paul bucknor New management

jael oyieke Justice is paramount

Foluso Amusa I support Save the Africa Centre to remain open to carry its purpose without any intervention or force closure. NO TO CLOSURE OF AFRICA CENTRE

Grace Omo please save the African Centre

Rolic Oboh Let not hope die. Hope for Africa and its emergence from all the negative things usually associated with this continent. Hope for greatness through even the opportunities such as this building provides.

Joanna Law Please save this important place. Africa Centre centre of the World!!!

CHARLES THOMPSON AFRICA CENTRE OF THE WORLD

FEMI DADA I will appreciate the review of the decision to sell the Historic African Centre. The decision to sell should be left with the users.

 

 

 

Gabriel Adewole Abiodun Soleye Please don’t do this. None European Immigrants should not be at the receiving end of this recession. Cap on immigrant now the only meeting point for us going on SALE. Please for once be FAIR TO US.

 

 

Nwabueze Ofili The centre should not be sold as it epitomizes cultural and historical values to all race and nationality. The talk about embracing diversity and equality sterns from situations like this, enough of the “Double Standards”.

Olugboyega Alebiosu There is every need to save the Africa centre

Donna Akuffo iconic cultural centre is more than just a place to meet, eat and be social. It is the hub of African Culture for the whole community. Let’s fight for the right to keep it!

May Eguridu Please lets help keep the ongoing working that is contributing towards the better good of our community, this centerenables not just Africans but people from every angle of the globe to learn and contribute as good social citizens to this country

Connie Mubanga Let us unite and do something for ourselves as Africans and for the future generations we are responsible for today. What a great legacy for Africans by Africans and the whole world.

Ruth Mwarage It is the only place we meet our African Diasporas and exchange ideas. It is a gift to the African mother continent by the Catholic church. The mother of most of the African faith. treat it as our inheritance through which we connect with the fore runners of our African Catholic faithfuls.

Patrick Ogunnowo A sustainability strategy can be conceptualised to enhance the functionality of the Africa Centre.

Monga Kyla Please we need this centre to remain.

 

 

olatunbosun oladitan save this center. it is a very useful to us all

Timothy Mbasuen All options should be explored through wider stakeholder consultations before using this option as a last resort.

 

 

Hana Kefela Africans in the UK as well as those interested in the developments in Africa whether professionally, culturally or personally need the Africa centre. I as an African living in London not only urge the Africa Centre to remain where it is I also would like to see it refurbished so that it is the platform we desperately need to share, learn, enjoy all things African in the heart of London.

Jean Lofulo Should there be a need to either maintain or upgrade the building, trustee should think on ways to raise fund than sale. Should there be need of competent people, Trustee should reach-out to the people. There are African professionals who would devote their expertise and bring-up solutions. DON’T SELL.

Simbarashe Mareverwa Please do not overlook the financial and cultural renaissance the current building use can benefit all interested parties.

Irene Osagie Evbuomwan Highly concerned about the Sale of the Africa Centre!

Godspower Orette Value and Pride is not depended on economic prowess or intellectual supremacy.

Abiola Talabi Leave our heritage alone

Rashid ali I can’t believe they will be allowed to do this!

George Clerk the Africa Centre another chance.

Claudette Carr In this year declared the international; Year for People of African Descent, I urge all Africans at home and abroad support the campaign and sign the petition. The 1990s is remembered as the decade of Black British band Soul II Soul, whose creator and music mogul Jazzie B started out at the African centre. Jazzie B coined the phrase ” a happy face, a thumping, base for a loving race”, and proclaimed the “African Centre is the Centre of the World” What happened?

 

 

 

Appolinaire Rititingar All what we need is to push Africa forward .Which Africa are we going to leave to the coming generation? I’m asking if we are not responsible on what it is happening to our continent. We need objective and we should be focused determinate. The current generation has a chance to talk. so let us say something for this Continent.

Portia Barnett-Herrin “The Africa Centre! Centre of the Worrrrld!”

Jerry Nyoni Keep the spirit of Africa alive in London Please!!!

 

 

 

“If you sell YOUR decision will be remembered by the community forever. The young members of the African Diaspora are the ones that have most to lose. It is we that will remember you for longer than you will be with us”.

 

http://africadatabase.org/

 

2 thoughts on “Save The AFRICA CENTRE

  • 15th June 2011 at 4:41 pm
    Permalink

    Have you signed the petition against the closure of the Africa Centre? If not, please do, urgently. It is on http://www.gopetition.com/petition/44717/sign.html

    Founded in 1962, the Africa Centre was the first of its kind in Britain.. Its home, at 38 King Street, Covent Garden, was gifted to the African people in perpetuity by the Catholic Church. This building at 38 King Street is synonymous with thousands of African Diaspora, and those in Africa, with the Centre itself. Over four decades the building has been a refuge, a meeting place and cultural beacon for the likes of Desmond Tutu, Kenneth Kaunda, Wole Soyinka and Walter Rodney, and an iconic landmark for Africans in Britain.

    In 1966 a Symposium was held at 38 King Street on Rhodesian Independence with Herbert Chitepo, Chairman of ZANU; in 1968, Eduordo Mondlane, President of FRELIMO gave a talk as part of the Conference on ‘The Future of the Portuguese Territories in Southern Africa’ ( eleven months before his assassination); Ruth First and Desmond Tutu gave talks in the seventies; in 1980, a message from political prisoners on Robben Island – issued in the name of Nelson Mandela and smuggled out of jail – was released at 38 King Street by the ANC; in 1984, The Africa Centre staged the controversial play, ‘The Trial of Dedan Kimathi’ written and directed by Kenyan writer Ngugi wa Thiong’o and, during the late 1980s, former Labour Leader Neil Kinnock held a series of meetings at the AC with representatives of the ANC, SWAPO and other groups challenging the apartheid government in South Africa. Moreover, the bar, restaurant and regular live performances by African musicians including Angelique Kidjo, created a social centre that was a hub for Africans living in, or passing through, London: a unique meeting point and informal cultural centre.

    Yet, on 16 March 2011, the current trustees of the Africa Centre formally voted to sell a 125 year lease of the building at 38 King Street, the Africa Centre, to the Covent Garden property developers, Capco. This decision was the culmination of several years’ secret negotiation between the trustees and Capco. Also at this meeting on 16 March, the Africa Centre Treasurer confirmed that there was no urgent reason to sell as the charity’s finance’s are relatively stable

    The trustees’ acceptance of the Capco offer of some £10.5m for the building also runs counter to the present Chair, Oliver Andrew’s 2006 press release in which he clearly stated: “The Council is committed to keeping all its various stakeholders informed of developments at the Centre and will be issuing updates on a regular basis. It would also like to assert in the strongest terms possible that there is no intention to close down or sell the building. The Council is fully committed to retaining and developing the King Street site which has been one of the main strengths of the Centre in its forty year history and offers an unrivalled shop window for Africa in central London.”

    Following this meeting one trustee, so concerned by the process of this sale, took the personal decision to release this information to the wider public. Thus began the Save the Africa Centre Campaign.

    Our campaign has officially secured up to 2,000 signatories. Prominent African political, literary, social and church leaders, such as former President Kenneth Kaunda (who officially opened the Centre in 1964), Archbishop Desmond Tutu, Bonnie Greer, Professor Wole Soyinka and Ngugi wa Thiong’o have made public pleas that the Board concedes and consults the African community in Britain. Thus far, the Board refuses to meet with the community and the sale of the iconic landmark is imminent. The Save the Africa Centre Campaign has been appealing to members of the African Diaspora and wider Africa Centre community to urge the Trustees to consider their responsibility to the community that they are meant to serve.

    Ngũgĩ wa Thiong’o and Abdilatif Abdalla discuss the Africa Centre May 2011:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-Puv3KDLwTI

    Archbishop Desmond Tutu, Comment is Free, The Guardian 3 June 2011
    http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2011/jun/03/desmond-tutu-africa-centre-sale?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+theguardian%2Fcommentisfree%2Frss+(Comment+is+free)

    Although there is talk from some trustees of the current Africa Centre being “re-located” rather than “closed”…..with no alternative building, no discussion about what activities would be staged and what facilities would be provided in any new building…..no discussion about how the money from the sale would be used to continue the work of the Africa Centre….no consultation and no attempt to harness the enthusiasm of those who currently use the Africa Centre….it is difficult to give much credence to the idea of a bright new future. The one certainty is that the old centre at 38 King Street will close its doors, and the likelihood is that all it embodied will come to an end and an important part of Africa history in Britain will be lost.

    We urgently needed your support to ensure the strength of the campaign. We have already secured extensive media interest and coverage of the issue including: BEN TV, BBC, The Evening Standard, The Times, The Guardian, Colourful Radio, Resonance FM, and Voice of Africa Radio.

    On Thursday 2nd June we held a day of action outside the offices of Capital and Counties, the property developer who made a secret deal with the trustees to buy the Africa Centre. We succeeded in getting them to delay the signing of a legally binding agreement to sell the building which had been due for signing on Friday 3rd June.

    We are motivated, we are inspired and we want your support to
    Save The Africa Centre!
    Join Us!

    How you can help?
    1. Forward the petition http://www.gopetition.com/petition/44717/sign.html and attached brochure to as many interested friends, colleagues, acquaintances as you can-

    2. Like our Facebook page – http://www.facebook.com/savetheafricacentre

    3. Attend our public events and demonstrations – http://www.savetheafricacentre.wordpress.com

    4. Contribute your skills, experience and/or expertise wherever possible – savetheafricacentre@gmail.com

    To find out more: http://www.savetheafricacentre.wordpress.com
    Contact: savetheafricacentre@gmail.com

    With best wishes
    the SAVE THE AFRICA CENTRE team

    Reply
  • 11th June 2014 at 4:04 am
    Permalink

    I recently visited the AC, 2013. Pleased to see it is still going. Met the late Maya Angelou there in the 1980’s. Remember , saying hi and shaking her hand and the great lady asking me how i was. Still one of the most surreal moment. Long may the centre continue. Wishing for success in saving it. Viva My Africa Centre.

    Reply

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