Ghana 60 Years On: Mobilising for Ghana's Future

Tuesday, 23 May 2017 - 5:45pm to 9:00pm

                                                                                                                                               

Date & Time: Tuesday 23rd May, 17:45 - 21:00
 
Venue: Brunei Gallery Lecture Theatre, SOAS, Thornhaugh Street, Russell Square, WC1H 0XG
 
Speakers: Shirley Ayorkor Botchwey, Baroness Valerie Amos, Richard Dowden , Paul Adom-Otchere
 

Ghana was the first country to gain independence from British colonialism in 1957. This event, celebrating the 60th anniversary of Ghanaian Independence, will be conducted by Ghana's Hon Minister for Foreign Affairs and Regional Integration, Shirley Ayorkor Botchwey.

The event will premiere the documentary film entitled 'From Gold Coast to Ghana, a Glorious History of Self Determination'. The film depicts the processes of Ghana's independence struggle, from the Imperial Britain’s model of colonisation, to the intense negotiations that attended the challenge to imperial rule. The film presents the controversial plan produced by the British that would allow decolonisation but introduce the markings of of neo-colonialism. The historical film tells the history of Ghana through its constitutions - from the bond of 1844 to the constitution of 1992 - which has now produced 5 presidents and 7 parliaments.

Join us for this film screening, and an evening of discussion, dance and drumming. With contributions from Hon Minister for Foreign Affairs and Regional Integration Shirley Ayorkor Botchwey, Baroness Valerie Amos  (SOAS Director), Richard Dowden (Director of the Royal African Society), Paul Adom-Otchere (Filmmaker) and others to be announced.

The event will be followed by a networking reception in the Brunei Suite.

This event is organised in collaboration with the Centre of African Studies, University of London and the Ghana High Commission

This event is free and open to the public, please reserve your ticket on Eventbrite 

 

 

Press Freedom, Activism and Writing in Eritrea: An Evening to Celebrate Dawit Isaak

Thursday, 4 May 2017 - 7:00pm to 9:30pm

Date & Time: Thursday 4th May 2017, 19:00 - 21:30

Venue: Djam Lecture Theatre, SOAS, Thornhaugh Street, London WC1H 0XG

An evening of celebration and discussion in recognition of Dawit Isaak being awarded the 2017 UNESCO/Guillermo Cano World Press Freedom Prize. 

Eritrean-Swedish journalist and playwright Dawit Isaak was an active and far-sighted presence on the arts and media scene in Eritrea.  He was arrested in a crackdown on the media and opposition that occurred in September 2001, and has been in prison since this time, without charge or trial. The last time he was heard from was in 2005, and his present location is unknown. He wrote poems, short stories, newspaper articles and plays. He worked closely with Fessehaye Yohannes, who was also imprisoned in 2001, and who died in jail in 2007. Together they created the Children’s theatre group SEWIT and the acrobat group Circus Eritrea.

This year an independent international jury of media professionals recommended unanimously that Dawit Isaak be awarded the UNESCO/Guillermo Cano World Press Freedom Prize in recognition of his courage, resistance and commitment to freedom of expression.

To mark this award, the event will celebrate Dawit Isaak’s work, launch a campaign for his release, and enable a discussion about the current situation in Eritrea. The panel will analyse the recent UN commission report, efforts to improve the situation and will discuss related UK and EU policies. There will be readings and an excerpt of the play I Am Your Brother  by Karl Hoff.

Speakers include: Dawit Mesfin Writer, veteran commentator on Eritrean affairs and political activist, Michela Wrong, former Africa correspondent for BBC, Reuters and the Financial Times, Vanessa Berhe, Founder of One Day Seyoum, FCO Eritrea Desk &  APPG for Eritrea to be confirmed.

Followed by Music & Eritrean Food from Merkato Restaurant - £7 per plate

This evening is organised by Arts for Action in partnership with The Royal African Society, Amnesty International, Pen Eritrea, and Pen International, with support from Cultures of Resistance.

This event is free and open to all but spaces are limited. Please register on Eventbrite.

Facebook event page

The evening will be recorded for podcast and linked to a global audience through International Pen Centres. Any questions, press queries please call Melissa Eveleigh on 07542630069. 

O.R. Tambo Centenary Public Lecture and Panel Discussion

Wednesday, 26 April 2017 - 6:00pm to 8:30pm
 
 
Date & Time: Wednesday 26th April, 18:00 - 20:30
 
Venue: Brunei Gallery Lecture Theatre, SOAS, Thornhaugh Street, Russell Square, WC1H 0XG
 
 

In 2017 South Africa celebrates the centenary of the birth of O.R. Tambo, an anti-apartheid politician and revolutionary who served as President of the African National Congress from 1967 to 1991.

The South African High Commission and its partner, the Oliver & Adelaide Tambo Foundation, will celebrate the life of O.R. Tambo in a series of events taking place in 8 countries around the world. The events will explore In His Footsteps: Passion, Patriotism, Integrity, Humility.

 

This event is brought to you by the Oliver & Adelaide Tambo Foundation, the South African High Commission, the Royal African Society, the Centre of African Studies, University of London and SOAS. The theme of panel discussion will be: 'Retracing O.R. Tambo's path towards liberation and the dawn of democracy in South Africa'.

 

Programme

6pm Live mbira music by Kudaushe Matimba

6.30pm Welcome and introduction

6.40pm Panel discussion

7.30pm Q&A with the audience

7.50pm Poetry reading by Leeto Thale

8pm Reception

9pm Close

 
This event is free and open to all but spaces are limited. Please register on Eventbrite and consider making a donation to the event series.
 

Post-land reform and the future of agriculture in Zimbabwe

Wednesday, 24 May 2017 - 7:00pm to 8:30pm
 
Date & Time: Wednesday 24th May, 19:00 - 20:30
 
Venue: Khalili Lecture Theatre, SOAS, Thornhaugh Street, Russell Square, WC1H 0XG
 
Speakers: Na Ncube, The Global Native; Ian Scoones, University of Sussex. Chair: Shepherd Mutswiri, Funda
 
Listen to the podcast.
 
In 1980, Zimbabwe was the second most industrialized country in Sub-Saharan Africa (after South Africa) and GDP continued to grow well into the 1990s. Following Zimbabwe’s independence, Julius Nyerere made the memorable comment to Prime Minister Robert Mugabe, that he had ‘inherited the jewel of Africa’. And yet, the government had also inherited a paradox: a majority of its population remained among the most impoverished in the world, virtually untouched by ‘growth without development’.
 
Some 850,000 peasant families (about three-quarters of the population) still lived crowded on rocky or sandy, infertile and overgrazed lands. These contradictory features of Zimbabwe's inheritance played a part in the need for an urgent redistribution of land. The ‘willing-buyer-willing-seller’ market-led land reform programme during the 80s and 90s failed to adequately address rural poverty and resettle the targeted 162,000 families.
 
The recent history of land and agriculture in the country is one of conflict and falling production. In 2000, Zimbabwe embarked on the highly contested Fast Track Land Reform which redistributed over 4000 large scale commercial farms. The overall agricultural production declined by 50% between 2000 and 2007. Over 146,000 households received smallholder farms and over 23,000 beneficiaries received medium-scale commercial farms.
It is widely agreed that land reform was necessary, the question is, how can Zimbabwe make progress without distributing blame, but learning from past mistakes?
 
In 2008, The World Bank Report: Agriculture for Development stated that it was time to place agriculture afresh at the centre of the development agenda and poverty reduction. In 2009, an Africa APPG Report: Land in Zimbabwe-Past Mistakes and Future Prospects outlined plans to ‘encourage new socio-cultural links between Zimbabwe and the UK’. 
 
In the transitional and post-Brexit period, we ask what has been achieved in the years since, and investigate whether – and through what means - Zimbabwe could once again become the ‘breadbasket of Africa’.
 
Speaker’s bios:
 
Na Ncube is Zimbabwean and the director of The Global Native, a UK based Diaspora led charity which seeks to unlock social investment funds for rural farming and development in Zimbabwe. She is particularly interested in mobilising funds from the Zimbabwean diaspora in the UK and elsewhere. The Global Native also seeks to educate and influence policy for sustainable development. Na trained with PriceWaterhouse Coopers and held various finance positions in different organisations prior to obtaining a Masters in International Development and setting up The Global Native in 2009. Na is a committed Christian and her faith shapes her activism. theglobalnative.wordpress.com
 
Ian Scoones is a Professorial Fellow at the Institute of Development Studies at the University of Sussex, and is co-director of the ESRC STEPS Centre. He has been researching land, agriculture and rural livelihoods in Zimbabwe since the mid-1980s. His early work was on livestock and rangeland management, and he has subsequently worked on dryland agriculture and environmental change. Since 2000 has been tracking the consequences of land reform in a number of sites across the country, including Masvingo, Mvurwi and Matobo, working with a local team. He has published a number of books and many articles on Zimbabwean land and agrarian issues, most notably the co-authored book, Zimbabwe's Land Reform: Myths and Realities, in 2010. He has a regular blog, at www.zimbabweland.wordpress.com.
 
Chair: Shepherd Muswiri is currently studying for a Masters in Development Studies at SOAS. He co-founded Funda with Ben Snyder, Jimmy Awany, Jean-Marc Mauran and Yasmin Hegazy at SOAS. Funda is a collective that seeks to contribute to the empowerment of rural communities by facilitating developmental initiatives that can be implemented for sustainable development.
 
Note - Tendai Biti is no longer able to attend the meeting. 
 
Reviving the economy: Post-land reform and the future of agriculture in Zimbabwe is an event series which was conceived by five SOAS MSc Development Studies students with the support of Royal African Society. They are the founders of FUNDA, a collective that seeks to contribute to the empowerment of rural communities in developing countries.
 
This event is free and open to all but spaces are limited. Please register on Eventbrite and consider making a donation to the event series.
 
 
 

Film Africa 2017

Friday, 27 October 2017 - 9:00am to Sunday, 5 November 2017 - 11:00pm

Friday 27 October – Sunday 5 November
Rich Mix, BFI Southbank, Ritzy Brixton, Bernie Grant Arts Centre, Cine Lumiere and SLG. 

Film Africa, London’s biggest celebration of African cinema brought to you by the Royal African Society, returns for its 7th edition! 38 films, 21 African countries, 19 premieres, and 12 special guests. Watch the trailer, browse the festival calendar and book your tickets before they sell out!

Opening & Closing Galas
 
Film Africa 2017 opens on Friday 27 October with South African director John Trengove’s debut feature The Wound, a bold exploration of sexuality, masculinity and cultural values in modern-day South Africa. Lead actor and award-winning musician Nakhane will be in attendance for a post-screening discussion, which will be followed by an exclusive after party in the BFI bar. Nakhane will also perform live for the first time in the UK at the Rich Mix on Sunday 29 October. 
 
The Closing Gala on Sunday 5 November will be the London premiere of Foreign Body, Tunisian director Raja Amari’s audacious and visceral fourth feature. The screening will be preceded by the public announcement of the winners of the Film Africa 2017 Audience Award for Best Feature Film and the Baobab Award for Best Short Film, which will also be screened. 
 
Ghana @ 60 
 
Marking 60 years of independence, Film Africa 2017 spotlights Ghana. This special strand features the European premiere of Keteke, a kinetic road trip from first-time director, Peter Sedufia; the UK premiere of Leila Djansi's I Sing of a Well, an epic tale about the Atlantic slave trade; and one of Ghana’s most celebrated works, Kukurantumi – Road to Accra by King Ampaw.  Ghana @ 60 also includes an exclusive live performance from RedRed
 
Africa's Lost Classics
 
Africa’s Lost Classics is a UK-wide project bringing to screens some of the greatest African films that have been banned, censored, lost or forgotten, including the restoration of some important African women’s films. Film Africa 2017 will screen Fatma 75, the first non-fiction work by a woman from Tunisia, Selma Baccar; Rage, an early work from celebrated Nigerian director Newton Aduaka, set in Peckham; and Mueda, Memory and Massacre, he first fiction feature from independent Mozambique and a masterpiece of anti-colonial memory. 
 
Bold New Features 
 
Film Africa 2017 presents several bold debut features that highlight the exciting period of growth that African cinema continues to enjoy. Titles include Call Me Thief, a portrait of life on the mean streets of 1960s Cape Town; Abraham Gezahagne’s I Will Not Bear Tomorrow, which delves head first into one of Ethiopia’s darkest moments in history; and I Still Hide to Smoke, where a public bath is the backdrop for director Rayhana’s brave exploration of the woman’s role in present-day Algeria. 
 
Women's Stories
 
A host of other titles in the programme showcase women’s stories. The UK premiere of Jordain Olivier’s documentary Sacred Water explores female sexuality in Rwanda; A Day for Women from Kamla Abou Zekri reflects on community, co-existence and freedom for women in Egyptian society; Alain Gomis’ sensual Berlin Silver Bear winning fourth feature Félicité is a fascinating portrait of a single mother; and Pascale Lamache’s seminal documentary Winnie depicts the complex figure of Winnie Mandela.  
 
Other highlights
 
Other highlights include the world premiere of Maria Khan’s documentary Di Journey, a comprehensive historical exploration of immigration and race relations in the UK’s African-Caribbean community; the latest from prolific Ghanaian director Shirley Frimpong Manson, Potato Potahto; and Samantha Biffot’s documentary The African Who Wanted to Fly, the extraordinary story of a young boy from Gabon who went on to become a Kung Fu master in China.  

Follow Film Africa on TwitterFacebook and Instagram to get the latest updates!

 

Africa Writes 2017

Friday, 30 June 2017 - 8:00am to Sunday, 2 July 2017 - 11:00pm

Brought to you by The Royal African Society

Join us for an exciting summer weekend at the British Library celebrating the best of contemporary literature from Africa and the diaspora.

Last year we were joined by 67 guest contributors and writers from 18 different countries, and a London audience of nearly 2000 – African literature fans and newcomers alike. This year we have much more in store…check out the Africa Writes website for the full programme and to book your tickets here

We are expanding the festival, with Africa Writes pop-up events taking place in England, Scotland and Wales, and exciting collaborations in Rwanda and Tanzania with the Jalada Mobile Literary & Arts Festival.

We’re kicking off with the R.A.P. (Rhythm And Poetry) party on the evening of Friday 30th June. This evening of hip-hop inspired poems and songs hosted by Inua Ellams and Theresa Lola will feature some remarkable poetic talents, including Malika BookerKei Miller, Amaal SaidYomi Sode and more. Dj Sid Mercutio will be on the decks spinning a mix of afrobeat, funk and afro-house tunes.

On Saturday evening Mara Menzies and Maimouna Jallow will delight us with a story- telling night of dreams and deception through performance adaptations of the written word. And on Sunday our headliner will be the prolific Congolese writer and academic Alain Mabanckou.

The literary ambassador of Congolese sapologieAlain Mabanckou captivates readers and critics with his rhythmic prose exploring the streets of Congo-Brazaville and the boulevards of Paris. His latest novel, Black Moses, was shortlisted for the Prix Goncourt and long-listed for this year’s Man Booker International Prize. Mabanckou will reflect on his journey as a writer and the politics of language and style.  Tickets for these events are already selling fast so make sure to book early!
Weekend events

Panel discussions
We look at how publishers in Africa are reaching communities of readers, how writers are making living literary connections across different African languages with Jalada Africa,  and how hidden histories in the museums and libraries of London can be uncovered by writers.

Moments of celebration and African literary joy are to be found throughout the festival:  we will delve into the archives of the renowned Nigerian writer Buchi Emecheta, discovering photographs, manuscripts and a remarkable personal history of a beloved literary icon, and will come together to discuss her work in the session: African Books to Inspire: Buchi Emecheta Book Club.

Following the annual tradition, you’ll have the chance to meet the shortlisted writers for this year’s Caine Prize for African WritingLesley Nneka Arimah (Nigeria), Chikodili Emelumadu (Nigeria), Bushra al-Fadil (Sudan), Arinze Ifeakandu (Nigeria) and Magogodi oaMphela Makhene (South Africa).

Alex Reads, Reckless Rai and Derek W from Mostly Lit – the popular podcast at the intersection of literature, millennial wellness and black pop-culture – will be hosting a live show on ‘Writing Blackness’. The trio will reflect on their own personal experiences and responses to reading black characters as depicted in African and Black British fiction.

Workshops and Roundtables
We uncover the history of the East African kanga textile with an exhibition and sharing session; hear stories about Krio heritage and culture of Sierra Leone, and explore the photographic archive in Black Chronicles: The Missing ChapterWe’ll be discussing the  politics of translation, and looking at the profusion of literary events and festivals taking place across the continent.

Budding writers are invited to pitch their work to the industry experts in our lively Meet the Publishers event, and places are also open for a special self-editing masterclass with Ellah Allfrey. On Saturday 1 July, all the family are invited for the free and fun Magic of Storytelling workshops with Mara Menzies.

Launch events
Africa Writes 2017 book and poetry collection launches include the new non-fiction work by Helon Habila – The Chibok Girls; two exciting debut novels – When We Speak of Nothing by Olumide PopoolaNo Place to Call Home by JJ Bola; and two poetry collections – Kumukunda by Kayo Chingonyi and Kingdom of Gravity by Nick Makoha. Also launching at Africa Writes will be transatlantic journal collaboration Jalada Africa 05 / Transition 123, and The Ultimate Tragedy by Abdulai Silá which is the first novel to be translated into English from Guinea-Bissau.

Tickets

Day TicketsWeekend Passes and tickets for headline events are available to book on the British Library website or over the phone on +44 (0)1937 546546. More information here.

 

 

Excited…?

Partners
 

Africa Writes 2017 in brought to you by the Royal African Society in partnership with the British Library. The festival is made possible through the financial support of Arts Council England, and partnership of the British Council, the Sigrid Rausing Trust, Miles Morland Foundation, and Centre of African Studies, University of London. See all festival partners here.

Brought to you by The Royal African Society

Join us for an exciting summer weekend at the British Library celebrating the best of contemporary literature from Africa and the diaspora.

Last year we were joined by 67 guest contributors and writers from 18 different countries, and a London audience of nearly 2000 – African literature fans and newcomers alike. This year we have much more in store…

We are expanding the festival, with Africa Writes pop-up events taking place in England, Scotland and Wales, and exciting collaborations in Rwanda and Tanzania with the Jalada Mobile Literary & Arts Festival.

In London we will be kicking off the festival with a special Late at the Library – to which you are all invited! More details coming soon… in the meantime save the dates in your diaries for a rich and vibrant programme of book launches, panel discussions, performances, workshops, an international book fair and a delicious street food market.

Excited…?

Partners

 

 

The festival is supported by and hosted at The British Library – the national library of the United Kingdom and one of the world’s greatest research libraries. It provides world class information services to the academic, business, research and scientific communities and offers unparalleled access to the world’s largest and most comprehensive research collection. Their collection has developed over 250 years and exceeds 150 million separate items representing every age of written civilisation and includes books, journals, manuscripts, maps, stamps, music, patents, photographs, newspapers and sound recordings in all written and spoken languages. Up to 10 million people visit www.bl.uk – every year where they can view up to 4 million digitised collection items and over 40 million pages.

 

 

 

 

This event is supported by a strategic partnership between the British Council and the Royal African Society, aimed at increasing networks, sharing knowledge and expertise and making connections between the UK and Africa. The partnership supports four major events in in the Royal African Society’s 2017 programme – Africa in 2017: Prospects and ForecastsAfrica Writes,  Film Africa, and The Arts Forum, taking place in April 2017.

 

Britain must seize the chance for more trade with Africa

Wednesday, 25 January 2017
Author: 
Richard Dowden

In the debate about future trade deals post Brexit one destination has been almost completed ignored: Africa. China and India are the targets for future UK trade but why is Africa off the list? Too poor? Too strange? Too corrupt or violent?

Mainstream media content reflect images of poverty, disease and war and Africa sometimes throws up some real horrors. That reflects a reality but it is not the whole story of Africa. It is the most diverse continent on the planet. Snow on the equator, dense jungle and huge deserts all in the same country? There is wealth and success as well as poverty and failure. The Africa picture is complex but simplified and distorted by much media coverage.

Most of Africa is not at all dramatic or daunting. Today it is increasingly peaceful and prosperous. The rate of infant mortality – a good indicator of general well-being and access to health care – has fallen from around 1200 per thousand in 1990 to 60 per thousand this year. As general health improves, Africa’s population will double from a billion today to over 2 billion by 2050 and the median age will be about 25. That is 10 years younger than the next lowest continent, South America.

Africa’s economic growth rate dropped slightly to about 3.7% last year but is predicted to rise to 4.5% next year, the second highest in the world after East Asia. Listen to Japanese companies that do business in Africa. A recent survey showed more than half would expand their businesses in Africa in the next two years. 71% said increased sales was the driver. Despite a dip in Africa’s growth this year, more than half the companies expect profits to grow next year. McKinsey&Company’s latest report predicts a possible $1 trillion market by 2025 with 400 African companies bringing in an annual revenue of $1 billion.

Africa’s biggest problem has been governance but now only three countries on the continent do not hold regular elections. The process maybe flawed or in some cases, fixed, but fewer and fewer presidents sleep easily on the eve of an election.

English is now the official language in 19 countries including the giants and, despite the colonial past, Brits tend to be given a special welcome. The combined population including South Africa and Nigeria is well over 500 million people. If President Trump allows Power Africa, Barack Obama’s $9.7 billion project to electrify Africa, to continue, it will transform energy throughout the continent. Even if he pulls the plug on it Africa will still be the fastest urbanising continent in the world. The opportunities for Britain in Africa are immense.

Richard Dowden is Director of the Royal African Society

Africa's Most Repressive State? Politics, Rights and Leadership in Eritrea

Wednesday, 25 January 2017 - 7:00pm to 8:30pm

Date & Time: Wednesday 25th January, 19:00 - 20:30
Venue: Khalili Lecture Theatre, SOAS, Thornhaugh Street, WC1H 0XG
Speakers: Martin Plaut, Institute of Commonwealth Studies & Vanessa Berhe, One Day Seyoum

"The most secretive, repressive state in Africa is haemorrhaging its citizens. In some months as many Eritreans as Syrians arrive on European shores, yet the country is not convulsed by civil war. Young men and women risk all to escape. Many do not survive, still they flee, to avoid permanent military service and a future without hope. As the United Nations reported: ‘Thousands of conscripts are subjected to forced labour that effectively abuses, exploits and enslaves them for years.’ Eritreans fought for their freedom from Ethiopia for thirty years, only to have their revered leader turn on his own people. Independent since 1993, the country has no constitution and no parliament. No budget has ever been published. Elections have never been held and opponents languish in jail. International organisations find it next to impossible to work in the country. Nor is it just a domestic issue. By supporting armed insurrection in neighbouring states it has destabilised the Horn of Africa. Eritrea is involved in the Yemeni civil war, while the regime backs rebel movements in Somalia, Ethiopia and Djibouti. This book tells the untold story of how this tiny nation became a world pariah." 

Martin Plaut, the BBC World Service’s former Africa Editor, has published extensively on African affairs. An adviser to the Foreign Office and the US State Department, he is Senior Researcher at the Institute of Commonwealth Studies. @martinplaut

Vanessa Berhe is a human right's activist and founder One Day Seyoum - a campaign launched to raise awareness about the lack of press freedom in Eritrea and put pressure on the Eritrean government to release all the unjustly imprisoned journalists in the country. The organization carries the name of her uncle journalist Seyoum Tsehaye, who was imprisoned in 2001 without a proper trial. She also founded the Free Eritrea Campaign that works to lift up some of the most pressing issues affecting the Eritrean people right now. Migration, intersectional feminism and global development are subjects she is passionate about. @VanessaBerhe

Chair: Dr Idil Osman holds a PhD from Cardiff University’s School of Journalism, Media and Cultural Studies and her thesis examined the role of diasporic media in conflict zones. She has worked for over a decade as a national and international journalist for the BBC, the Guardian and the Voice of America and is the co-author of ‘Somalia to Europe; Stories of the Somali Diaspora, a book that chronicles the civil war experiences of Somali Europeans and their subsequent migration to the UK. Previously a Teaching Fellow in Media and Communication at University of Leicester's Department of Media and Communication, she's now a Research Associate and Senior Teaching Fellow in the Department of Development Studies at SOAS. @idil_osman

Copies of Understanding Eritrea Inside Africa’s Most Repressive State by Martin Plaut & published by Hurst, will be on sale at the event.

This event is free and open to all but registration is required via Eventbrite.

 

 

 

 

Date & Time: Wednesday 25th January, 19:00 - 20:30
Venue: Khalili Lecture Theatre, SOAS, Thornhaugh Street, WC1H 0XG
Speakers: Martin Plaut, Institute of Commonwealth Studies & Vanessa Berhe, One Day Seyoum

"The most secretive, repressive state in Africa is haemorrhaging its citizens. In some months as many Eritreans as Syrians arrive on European shores, yet the country is not convulsed by civil war. Young men and women risk all to escape. Many do not survive, still they flee, to avoid permanent military service and a future without hope. As the United Nations reported: ‘Thousands of conscripts are subjected to forced labour that effectively abuses, exploits and enslaves them for years.’ Eritreans fought for their freedom from Ethiopia for thirty years, only to have their revered leader turn on his own people. Independent since 1993, the country has no constitution and no parliament. No budget has ever been published. Elections have never been held and opponents languish in jail. International organisations find it next to impossible to work in the country. Nor is it just a domestic issue. By supporting armed insurrection in neighbouring states it has destabilised the Horn of Africa. Eritrea is involved in the Yemeni civil war, while the regime backs rebel movements in Somalia, Ethiopia and Djibouti. This book tells the untold story of how this tiny nation became a world pariah." 

Martin Plaut, the BBC World Service’s former Africa Editor, has published extensively on African affairs. An adviser to the Foreign Office and the US State Department, he is Senior Researcher at the Institute of Commonwealth Studies. @martinplaut

Vanessa Berhe is a human right's activist and founder One Day Seyoum - a campaign launched to raise awareness about the lack of press freedom in Eritrea and put pressure on the Eritrean government to release all the unjustly imprisoned journalists in the country. The organization carries the name of her uncle journalist Seyoum Tsehaye, who was imprisoned in 2001 without a proper trial. She also founded the Free Eritrea Campaign that works to lift up some of the most pressing issues affecting the Eritrean people right now. Migration, intersectional feminism and global development are subjects she is passionate about. @VanessaBerhe

Chair: Dr Idil Osman holds a PhD from Cardiff University’s School of Journalism, Media and Cultural Studies and her thesis examined the role of diasporic media in conflict zones. She has worked for over a decade as a national and international journalist for the BBC, the Guardian and the Voice of America and is the co-author of ‘Somalia to Europe; Stories of the Somali Diaspora, a book that chronicles the civil war experiences of Somali Europeans and their subsequent migration to the UK. Previously a Teaching Fellow in Media and Communication at University of Leicester's Department of Media and Communication, she's now a Research Associate and Senior Teaching Fellow in the Department of Development Studies at SOAS. @idil_osman

Copies of Understanding Eritrea Inside Africa’s Most Repressive State by Martin Plaut & published by Hurst, will be on sale at the event.

This event is free and open to all but registration is required via Eventbrite.

 

 

 

Africa in 2017: Prospects and Forecasts

Tuesday, 10 January 2017 - 6:30pm to Monday, 16 January 2017 - 6:30pm

Edinburgh: Tuesday 10th January, 18:30 - 20:30 

London: Wednesday 11th January, 18:30 - 20:30 - LIVE STREAM / Listen to podcast

Birmingham: Monday 16th January, 18:30 - 20:30. Listen to podcast

 

Join Us! The Royal African Society and the British Council present Africa in 2017: Prospects & Forecasts– a three city tour of panellists discussing what 2017 has in store for Africa.

Following a year that’s delivered major surprises in Africa and globally, what does 2017 hold for the African continent? Will it be a year of crises or triumphs?

In terms of elections, 2016 witnessed several major votes on the continent that mostly returned incumbent leaders to power; Ghana, which saw another transition of power, proved to be one of very few exceptions in a pattern that saw sitting presidents in the Republic of Congo, Uganda, Gabon, Zambia, Niger and more all re-elected.

Beyond Africa, the UK’s vote to leave the European Union and the US election delivered further political shocks. What impact will these landmark events and uncertainty in the global system mean for Africa? What can we expect from elections scheduled for 2017 in the likes of Angola, Rwanda, Liberia and Kenya?

Economically, the fall in commodity prices continued to hit major economies, in particular Nigeria, while South Africa, again the continent’s largest economy, remains mired in political turmoil and seems unable to tackle declining economic output and rising unemployment. What impact will commodity prices, an uncertain global economic outlook, and China's continued slowdown have on Africa?

Across the continent, vibrant political and social movements emerged, largely driven by Africa’s rising young populations. This demographic also makes up the majority of migrants leaving the continent as well as much of the force behind Africa’s rising prominence in global cultural production in fields as diverse as film, art and music. How are these creative sectors growing and innovating? What impact will these social, cultural and political movements have in 2017?

Speakers on the tour include Njoki Ngumi (The Nest Collective, Kenya); Razia Khan, (Standard Chartered); Patrick Smith, (The Africa Report, Africa Confidential); Zeinab Bedawi (Chair, RAS); Nic Cheeseman (University of Birmingham) and Franklyn Lisk (University of Warwick). Others to be announced.

Each event will be followed by a networking reception.

Edinburgh - Tuesday 10th January 2017, 18:30 - 20:30
Presented in partnership with the International Office and the Centre of African Studies, University of Edinburgh, and SBI, University of Edinburgh Business School
Register

London - Wednesday 11th January 2017, 18:30 - 20:30
Presented in partnership with the Centre of African Studies, University of London
Register - £5/ £8 / Free for RAS members

Birmingham - Monday 16th January, 18:30 - 20:30
Presented in partnership with the Department of African Studies and Anthropology and the International Development Department at the University of Birmingham
Register

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