A Look At The Africa Centre's New Home

Will Noble
By Will Noble Last edited 22 months ago

Last Updated 12 September 2022

A Look At The Africa Centre's New Home
A billboard for the Africa Centre depicting two figures eating food. Two people walk by
The Africa Centre has been part of London's cultural scene since the 1960s, and now has a brand new HQ. Image: The Africa Centre

Archbishop Desmond Tutu, Angélique Kidjo, Fela Kuti, Soul II Soul. Just a sprinkling of the countless inspirational names who've appeared at London's Africa Centre over the years.

Back in the 1950s, London's African diaspora began talking about creating a "home away from home", and in 1964, the Africa Centre became a reality, established in Covent Garden as a place to educate and promote African culture through talks, film screenings, performances and the like.

Black a white photo of various posters and leaflets advertising Africa Centre events
Image: The Africa Centre

The Centre moved to Southwark in 2013 (the borough has the highest concentration of people of African and Caribbean descent), and as of 9 June 2022, reopens with a new HQ in Southwark. The former Gunpowder House at 66 Great Suffolk Street is a 1960s office block, transformed into four floors of African-centred culture, including a Pan-African kitchen and restaurant operated by 'supper club superstar' Akwasi Brenya-Mensa and offering 'Afrocentric culinary experiences'; a second floor gallery/event space; a research centre; and a hub focussed on empowering young people and shaping the future of Black businesses.

Three young women holding pens and grinning at the camera
Image: The Africa Centre

The new HQ is the work of architects Freehaus, and chosen by the Africa Centre for its bold black design — with strips of bright patterning, synonymous with various African cultures. The Centre praised the vision's 'pan-African aesthetic that embraces the rich diversity of the African continent'.

Tola Ojuolape, meanwhile, worked as interior designer; coming up with swish contemporary African looks, such as this natty bar/networking area:

Beautifully patterned armchairs in a searing area, with dark blue walls
Image: Africa Centre

A restored mural by Mozambican artist and poet, Malangatana Ngwenya — originally housed in the Africa Centre's Covent Garden home — also stars at the Centre's new Southwark home.

Says the Africa Centre: "We are restating our commitment to being a pillar for African and Caribbean communities in the UK and all those who love Africa and care about its people.

Mock up of the new HQ's facade - which is black with flashes of patterned yellows and oranges
The revamped 1960s office block is redesigned by Freehaus. Image: The Africa Centre

"The space will celebrate the stories, people and cultures of the African continent by creating a safe space
for conversations and activities that contribute towards positive narratives around Africa and its growing

Discover more about the Africa Centre, its events, and how you can get involved.