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.
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.
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:
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.
"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.