The Duke of Cambridge to meet Royal African Society’s members and supporters at their Autumn reception

Monday, 3 September 2018
Caitlin Pearson


3 September 2018

“The Duke of Cambridge to meet Royal African Society’s members and supporters at their Autumn reception”

The Royal African Society is delighted to announce that its Patron, H.R.H. Prince William, The Duke of Cambridge, will attend its Autumn Reception to meet a range of the Society’s members and supporters.

The Reception will be the first event the Duke will attend in his capacity as Patron of the Royal African Society, since succeeding Her Majesty The Queen in this role in December 2016.

The invited participants at the Reception will represent the full range of activities and areas in which the Royal African Society operates, including academia, business, politics, culture, the arts and education.

“We are honoured to welcome The Duke of Cambridge at his first engagement as Patron of the Royal African Society. The Duke has demonstrated his passion for the continent, its people and its wildlife through several initiatives, and we are delighted that he will have the opportunity to meet individuals from our dynamic and influential network of African professionals and Africa experts, as well as our supporters and the range of people who benefit from our programmes,” said Zeinab Badawi, Chair of the Royal African Society. 

The Royal African Society is a membership organisation that provides opportunities for people to connect, celebrate and engage critically with a wide range of topics and ideas about Africa today. The organisation exists to amplify African voices and interests, contributing to keeping Africa high on the UK’s business, political and cultural agenda, enabling a positive shift in policy and public opinion.


Press contact: Caitlin Pearson, Events Programme Manager,

Social media:

Twitter: @KensingtonRoyal / @royafrisoc      Instagram: @kensingtonroyal


Notes to Editors

  1. The Royal African Society is a membership organisation that provides opportunities for people to connect, celebrate and engage critically with a wide range of topics and ideas about Africa today. Through events, publications and digital channels it shares insight, instigates debate and facilitates mutual understanding between the UK and Africa. The society amplifies African voices and interests in academia, business, politics, the arts and education, reaching a network of more than one million people globally.
  1. H.R.H. The Duke of Cambridge is the Royal African Society’s Patron. In December 2016, Her Majesty The Queen stepped down as Royal Patron of the Society after 64 years.
  1. Zeinab Badawi, Chair of the Royal African Society, is a Sudanese-British television and radio journalist, currently the presenter of Global Questions and Hard Talk for the BBC. Through her own production company she has produced and presented many programmes, including currently the definitive TV series of African history in association with UNESCO. She is one of the best-known broadcast journalists working in the field today. In 2009 she was awarded International TV Personality of the Year by the Association of International Broadcasters, and was named in Powerlist 2012 and 2015 as one of Britain’s top 100 most influential members of the black community.
  2. Dr Nicholas Westcott is Director of the Royal African Society. He has been involved with Africa for over 40 years as both an academic and diplomat. He has served in Brussels, Washington DC, Tanzania (as Deputy High Commissioner) and from 2008-2011 as British High Commissioner to Ghana and simultaneously as Ambassador to Cote d'Ivoire, Burkina Faso, Niger and Togo. From 2011 he worked in the EU's External Action Service as Managing Director for Africa, and from 2015 as MD for the Middle East and North Africa.

DFID makes the right noises over Ebola lessons

Thursday, 17 March 2016
Anita Makri- SciDev.Net
The outbreak of Ebola that devastated West Africa is out of the media spotlight, and no doubt many of us have wondered what happened to all those debates over lessons to be learned. A panel discussion at the United Kingdom’s Parliament delved into this issue last week.
The event was organised by the Africa All Party Parliamentary Group to launch its report with Polygeia reviewing evidence submitted in response to an inquiry into the Ebola response last year, which included SciDev.Net's Spotlight collection.
Calling the report “genuinely useful”, Nick Hurd, the parliamentary undersecretary of state at the UK Department for International Development (DFID), highlighted two areas of interest for DFID’s activities. One is working with communities — we learned that they must be at the heart of the response, he said, and that anthropology should inform on cultural aspects of disease. Another is strengthening health systems by addressing assumptions, expectations and resource challenges.
While ministers typically only make a five-minute guest appearance at parliamentary events, Hurd’s presence was more committed. “This matters a great deal. It’s personal” he said.
His messages were echoed by members of the panel. DFID’s health advisor Susan Elden said putting better systems and structures in place is a messy and complicated job but it has to be done.
Then the discussion moved closer to the nitty-gritty, resulting in three lingering questions.
The first is about who owns the data governments and aid agencies need in crisis response. Public Health Africa Initiative chair Aliko Ahmed argued that the data should be owned by affected countries in the first place.
It’s a question that will test the nature of collaboration with developing countries.
Hurd said that DFID is focusing on improving reporting systems, while Elden pointed to ongoing discussions with the World Health Organization (WHO) on creating a sharing platform.
The second question is about good value for money. The minister said that government would prioritise putting money towards proven ways of placing community engagement at the heart of future responses.
So measuring the impact of engagement is about to become a whole lot more important. But how will the struggle to prove value and cost-effectiveness compete with other aspects of crisis response?
The third point is about how to truly learn from experience. Other epidemics — such as SARS and swine flu — taught the same lessons on crisis response as Ebola, an audience member pointed out, but we are relearning every time. How can we do better than this?
The answers from the panel were not reassuring. There was some agreement that disaster response is, by its nature, a slow and complicated process. What is important, Hurd said, is to have consensus on cumulative evidence on what’s fundamentally important for an effective response.
The bigger lesson, Elden said, is about the need to learn from the affected countries themselves. But it remains to be seen how well DFID, the WHO and others will listen. 
The report from the Africa APPG together with Polgeia is available online and to download here. An audio recording of the launch event is also available here
This blog is taken from the original blog by Anita Makri from SciDev.Net available here
(photo credit: yahoo news)

It’s the Politics Stupid – By Richard Dowden

Thursday, 30 July 2015
Richard Dowden

President Obama’s message to Africa’s rulers at the African Union in Addis Ababa today will encourage Africa’s economic growth but he will also be critical of the dictatorial tendencies that still abound in Africa’s politics. Africa, he says, needs strong institutions, not strongmen.

Never since the end of the Cold War has there been such a dearth of leadership on the continent. South Africa and Nigeria are the continent’s major powers but President Jacob Zuma of South Africa shows weak leadership at home and little interest in the rest of the continent. In Nigeria, Africa’s largest economy, newly-elected President Muhammadu Buhari is struggling to establish a government. Continent wide, regional integration which should be driving bigger inclusive economies, has been at a snail’s pace because of lack of vision and each president’s fear of losing control.

In the early 1990s America promoted democracy, human rights and the free market to the world as the principles of global governance. The free market has taken off fast in Africa, largely because Africans have simply got on with it. African cities today are bustling and growing and trade has been at an all time high. But African rulers have never been less committed to democracy and human rights. Most countries hold elections but fewer and fewer lead to a change of government. Nigeria in April was an extraordinary exception. Respect for human rights is in the hands of the governments and respected in varying degrees.

Embarrassingly Ethiopia which hosts the African Union headquarters where Obama will be speaking tomorrow, has not a single opposition MP in its 547-strong parliament, despite being in power since 1992. The press is also very tightly controlled. The government makes no apology for its political repression but points to Ethiopia’s high economic growth rates – around 10% for the last few years – and the fact that a third of Ethiopians, about 1.5 million who were regarded as poor in 2000, are now better off.

A similar situation exists in Rwanda, another favourite of Western donors. Its government delivers health and education to its people while maintaining total control over their lives through a surveillance system that North Korea would be proud of. At least, its friends argue, they have good reason after the 1994 genocide. Elsewhere governments are increasingly rarely changed by elections and several presidents, including Rwanda’s, have removed or are trying to remove term limits from their constitutions. 

In Kenya on Sunday Obama stood next to an uncomfortable-looking President Uhuru Kenyatta. Son of the country’s first president, he heads the country’s richest family. You could see Kenyatta’s discomfort when Obama spoke of Kenya’s rampant corruption, lack of gay rights and discrimination against women. Kenyatta bluntly refused to accept gay rights and I believe most of his fellow presidents will support him.

At one time presidents like Kenyatta would have smiled meekly and obeyed. Thanks to China’s engagement in the continent, African rulers have an alternative powerful ally and can push back against US demands. The outright refusal to accept gay rights shows Africa’s growing self-confidence. China has given Africa’s rulers an alternative trading and political partner. Its engagement in Africa over the past two decades has enabled African governments to ignore or reject demands from Britain, France and the US although there are signs that Beijing is now beginning discreetly to support western demands for better governance, not least to protect their own interests in the continent.

This is a crucial time for Africa. Today it has more than a billion people. By 2050 that will have become 2 billion. Until now it has lived by exporting commodities, vulnerable to the price swings of raw materials. If it can start adding value by manufacturing and exporting, it could become the next big global economic driver. But this requires vision and leaders who have their countries’ interests at heart.

Today I expect President Obama will speak to all Africa’s presidents about better governance, term limits, human rights and democracy. He will urge them to create space for their young populations to thrive in a corruption-free market. They will give him a standing ovation but at the back of their minds many will be thinking: “nice words and good ideas but will they help me stay in power?”

Richard Dowden is Director of the Royal African Society.

This article was published in The Times on July 28th

The Pan-African history of Basil Davidson: Episode 1 – Different but Equal: Screening + Q&A

Tuesday, 11 March 2014 - 7:00pm to 9:00pm

Date & Time: Tuesday 11 March, 7-9PM
Place: Khalili Lecture Theatre (KLT), SOAS

Event in partnership with the SOAS Pan-African Society.

Speakers: Mick Csaky, Series Executive Producer; Gus Casely-Hayford, presenter, Lost Kingdoms of Africa; Professor Stephen Quirke, Institute of Archaeology, University College London; Dr Ayman El-Desouky, Senior Lecturer in Modern Arabic and Comparative Literature, SOAS.

The Royal African Society is proud to announce that it is hosting the 30 anniversary of Basil Davidson’s award­winning 8 x 1­hour documentary film series “AFRICA: A Voyage of Discovery” which first appeared in the UK on Channel 4 television in April 1984 and went on to play worldwide, with an accompanying book.

Basil Davidson’s seminal documentary series ‘Africa’ challenges the long held beliefs like the opinion of David Hume that Africa had ‘no ingenious manufactures among them, no arts, no sciences’. The series presents a pan-African conception of history from the origins of Egypt and Nubia to the liberation movements that Basil was familiar with, and newly independent nations in Zimbabwe and Mozambique.

When Greek Historian Herodotus visited Ancient Egypt he described the civilisation he saw there as ‘different but equal’. Episode one shows that some of the world’s greatest early civilisations have their origins in black Africa, including those along the Nile Valley. The episode includes interviews with Senegalese mathematician, philosopher and Egyptologist Cheikh Anta Diop and explores the growth of African civilisations in West and Northeast Africa.

In the Q&A following the screening we will discuss the extent Victorian Egyptologists ‘whitewashed’ archaeology to fit in with their conception of Africa as a land with no intrinsic history.

About the series:

The series was produced in collaboration between Channel 4, The Nigeria Television Authority MBTV and RM Arts. It first aired 30 years ago in 1984 and won many awards, including the International Film & TV Festival of New York Gold Award. It has since been distributed, free of charge to many schools and colleges in the UK and Africa.

About Basil Davidson

Basil Davidson was a distinguished author and historian, having written more than 30 books on Africa. Prior to this he was a soldier working in Churchill’s Special Operations Executive during World War 2.








AFRICA - Episode 1: Different but Equal. Written & Presented by Basil Davidson. Executive Producer: Mick Csaky. 1983.




AFRICA - Episode 2: Mastering a Continent. Written & Presented by Basil Davidson. Executive Producer: Mick Csaky. 1983.





Join us for our live screening of Episode 3: 

Buika + Special guests

Monday, 14 October 2013 - 7:30pm
Barbican Centre, Silk Street, London, EC2Y 8DS



Many missed out on her April show at La Linea, as the tickets sold out quickly.


Hailed as a star in contemporary flamenco, Buika is blessed with a remarkable voice; raw and smoky but with a tenderness that hits right at the heart.


This is your opportunity to see her in an intimate environment, playing tracks off her latest release: "La Noche Más Larga"


Get your tickets now, her show at the Barbican is selling fast!


"Buika possesses the most haunting voice to be found on either side of the Atlantic” - Sunday Times 


Watch the trailer for her Barbican Show Here

The concert follows her sold out show at this year's La Linea festival and the release of her stunning new album in June.

'Luminous…magnificent…superb!'  New York Times

Ticket Prices:  £15-£24


Click here to book tickets


African Composers Series: Tony Dudu

Saturday, 13 April 2013 - 8:30pm
VORTEX JAZZ CLUB 11 Gillett Square, London, N16 8AZ

Tony Dudu

Jazz driven by Latin grooves.

Tony Dudu is an in demand session guitarist, appearing on over 100 records with artists from Guinea Bissau, Angola, Mozambique, Sao Tome, Cape Verde and Brazil. Tonight Tony Dudu and his band “Gumbe Jazz” play frenetic jazz dance grooves powered by creative jazz solos.

Click here for more information

Africa's Next Generation: A bright Future?

Tuesday, 16 April 2013 - 5:00pm to 7:00pm
African Development Forum, Brunei Gallery Lecture Theatre

Africa's Next Generation: A bright Future?

 Brunei Gallery Lecture Theatre

The upcoming second African Development Forum will focus on harnessing the potential of youth for the continent’s development.

Africa is home to 350 million young people – and the numbers are growing rapidly. How can the African continent turn this into an asset? What if it becomes a liability? Which scenarios are likely?

Addressing opportunities and challenges in this context, the Forum will consist of two interactive panel discussions - ‘Mobilizing Youth’ and ’Innovating Africa’ -, involving a range of dynamic speakers from different industries and disciplines. The following questions will be tackled:

Employment: How will the continent employ 350 million young Africans?

Agriculture: How can farming attract Africa’s youth to compete with urbanisation?

Diaspora: What impact will the ‘brain gain’ have on African development?

Entrepreneurship: What is the role of young African women in business?

Leadership: Will the young replace the old and inspire real change in African politics?

Technology: Already pioneering in mobile technology, how can Africa do the same elsewhere?

Visit the African Development Forum website for more information

Organiser: African Development Forum

Contact email:

Sponsors: Centre of African Studies, University of London; SOAS, University of London; Royal African Society; Standard Chartered

'The Last Words of Rowan Du Preez: Murder and conspiracy on the Cape Flats' by Simone Haysom

Thursday, 11 October 2018 - 6:30pm to 8:00pm

The Last Words of Rowan Du Preez: Murder and conspiracy on the Cape Flats by Simone Haysom

Date & Time: Thursday 11 October, 18:30 - 20:00
Venue: London International Development Centre, 36 Gordon Square, London WC1H 0PD

In 2012 Angy Peter was bringing up her young children with her husband in Bardale, Mfuleni on the Cape Flats. Angy was an activist, and spent her days collecting evidence for a commission of inquiry into policing that had the chance to change law enforcement across the country’s troubled townships. She was vocally against vigilante violence and a go-to person when demanding better services from the police. But when the commission started its hearings, Angy found herself on trial for murdering – necklacing – a young neighbourhood troublemaker, Rowan du Preez.

The state’s case centred on the accusation Rowan had allegedly made with his dying breath – that Angy had set alight the tyre around his neck. Simone Haysom takes us into the heart of a mystery: was Angy Peter framed by the police for a murder she didn’t commit? Or was she a wolf in sheep’s clothing who won a young man’s trust and then turned on him in the most brutal way? Simone Haysom spent four years meticulously researching this case and the result is a court-room drama interwoven with expert opinion and research into crime and the state of policing in the townships of South Africa.

Join us for a discussion about the book and its themes with the author in conversation with Kim Chakanetsa of the BBC. Copies of the book, published by Jonathan Ball, will be on sale at the event. 

The writing of this book was supported by the Miles Morland Writing Scholarship. The current scholarship closes for applications on 30 September 2018. Find out more here. 

Spaces are limited so please reserve in advance on Eventbrite.





Britain’s message to Africa

Monday, 27 August 2018
Nicholas Westcott

On 28 August, Theresa May will pay her first visit to Africa as British Prime Minister, the first substantive visit to Africa by any British PM since 2011. This is good news, and a golden opportunity to reset Britain’s relations with the continent. But what should her message be?

For one thing, there is some ground to make up. The recent lack of high level government visits, the rapid turnover of Ministers responsible for Africa, and a focus often apparently limited to development and security, has left many in Africa feeling neglected by Britain. Many Commonwealth African leaders came to the UK for the Heads of Government meeting in April this year, but it has been largely one way traffic.

Britain’s relations with Africa have been long-standing, intensely close, important for both parties, and frequently bumpy. The legacy of the slave trade and decades of colonial rule leave a deep mark. But Africa has now been independent (again) for nearly as long as it was colonised, and this enables us to put a fresh perspective on relations.

There is certainly great potential for excellent relations in the future. As the Commonwealth summit demonstrated, there remains a strong residual sympathy towards Britain as a country and its monarch as a person. London and the UK remain important cultural reference points for many Africans, whether through football, the English language, education or family connections. Many dream of visiting, though the current visa regime does seem to make it as difficult and expensive as possible.

Equally, there are many in this country for whom Africa is important. In towns and cities throughout the country there are thousands of people with deep links to African communities all over the continent, through local aid initiatives, town and hospital twinning arrangements, cultural links, business contacts, personal friendships and family links. The bonds are far deeper and wider than we think.

Britain is also proud of its status as a ‘development superpower’, committed to maintain an aid budget worth 0.7% of national GDP, making it one of the biggest bilateral donors in the world and with major programmes in a number of African countries. 

But still Britain’s current impact in Africa is limited. The footprint of British diplomatic missions on the continent has grown slightly since the mid 2000s (from 27 missions to 31), though still lagging well behind Germany (39), France (41), China (46) and the US (49). The number of ministers visiting in the past year has gone up, but none of this has really translated into the kind of close relationships we want, and need - as demonstrated by the UK’s failure to attract African votes in recent UN elections, eg for the WHO and ICJ. 

This is compounded by two challenges: to identify exactly what the UK’s policy on Africa is; and to tackle the uncertainty arising from Brexit. 

On the first, British policy has appeared fragmented, with different departments doing different things, and a focus only on a few countries considered of strategic importance such as Kenya, Nigeria, South Africa, Ethiopia and Somalia. Though every country is different and fiercely independent, Africa does see itself collectively and we should respond appropriately. A more coherent overall policy makes sense.

On Brexit, Africans expectations are high that Britain will (have to) pay more attention to Africa after exiting the EU. They see an opportunity that a new relationship will offer Africa more than it used to receive from the UK through the EU, especially on trade where the EPAs remain unpopular with many. But this will require extra resources and new concessions - on market access for example - that may be hard to deliver in practice given the costs and constraints of the Brexit process. So there is a risk expectations will be disappointed.

All this points to the importance of the Prime Minister using her visit to bring a message that outlines a clear, concise and coherent strategic vision of Britain’s future relations with Africa. This message should have three crucial components.

First and foremost, it needs to demonstrate a new and vital partnership with African countries based on mutual respect, mutual interests and a higher level of engagement. This visit should not be a one-off. It needs to be followed up regularly.

Secondly, the purpose of this engagement, the focus of British policy, should be two things: promoting Africa’s prosperity, in particular through encouraging faster economic growth and supporting African entrepreneurship, infrastructure and basic services; and increasing the security of African people by ending conflicts, improving governance and preventing terrorism. These are easier said than done, but they provide a clear strategic direction for more practical interactions and interventions. 

Thirdly, to achieve these objectives the Government needs to identify the critical areas of change where the UK can most usefully support practical action.

First among these should be support for African efforts to improve governance. Unlike some other parts of the world, in Africa democracy is still moving forwards, not backwards. Accountable government is spreading, not because donors are demanding it but because Africans are. It is an uphill task, as some recent elections (and in some countries, the lack of them) have shown. But the UK has many years of experience in building and maintaining accountability in government: through parliaments, improved financial management, audit offices and court systems, through reinforcing the rule of law and in combating corruption. Programmes on these issues, though small and labour intensive, have over the years yielded more benefit than many of the higher spending projects. None of these are easy, and where corruption is an integral part of the political system our efforts will often be frustrated or ineffective. But programmes to tackle such evils as trafficking in people or illegal wildlife products, or action to improve counter-terrorist operations, will not succeed without greater democracy and better overall governance.

A second critical area is stimulating economic growth in a way that actually creates jobs for young people, above all by enabling them to use their entrepreneurial capabilities. These are too often stifled, and economic support too often focussed on attracting foreign investment. Africa’s greatest resource lies within, and it is the people not the raw materials. It is in everyone’s interests that young Africans find opportunities in Africa, rather than seek them elsewhere. The basic infrastructure, physical and educational, needs to exist, and foreign investment remains an invaluable contribution; but more needs to be done to stimulate opportunities for individuals and local businesses in the countries themselves. 

A third critical issue is migration. Support for action against illegal trafficking and people smugglers is necessary, but it is not sufficient. The latest Afrobarometer data illustrates clearly that it is the more educated that migrate, not the less educated. So this tendency can be turned to the UK's advantage if we attract the brightest of the young generation, the rising leaders of Africa, to work in or be educated in the UK before returning to build businesses and provide inspiration - just as young Britons also benefit from studying abroad. But this means making legal migration, especially for education, easier not more difficult. This is a key test of whether Britain will be truly ‘Global’ in the future, or whether it is merely a hollow slogan.

Finally, it is worth reviewing where to focus these efforts geographically. The big strategic and Commonwealth partners remain important. But there is an equal imperative to help the most fragile regions - the Horn, the Great Lakes and the Sahel. It is a good thing to expand Britain’s footprint on the continent, to open posts in countries like Chad and Niger as well as in Commonwealth ones like Lesotho and eSwatini. But to have impact, we need critical mass, and that means reviewing the distribution as well as volume of our support now we will no longer be able to lean on the EU in some parts of the continent. Close coordination with EU partners will remain essential. But the tough questions are whether, for example, we will continue to pay our share of AMISOM costs, or continue to support training missions in the Sahel.

This is a moment to renew and strengthen our partnership with Africa. But it needs an investment, an increase in resources, and a clear public message - even if ultimately, in this new world of post-truth politics, it is not words but actions that will matter.