Can Technology Fix Nigeria?

Wednesday, 27 September 2017 - 6:15pm to 8:30pm


Date & Time: Wednesday 27th September 2017, 18:15-20:30

Venue: Sheikh Zayed Theatre, New Academic Building, LSE

54 Lincoln's Inn Fields, London WC2A 3LJ

Speakers: Martin Eigbike (Dalberg Global Development Advisors), Ndubuisi Kejeh (De Charles), Victor Asemota (SwiftaCorp) & Olamide Bada (Jumia Food Nigeria). Hosted by Funmi Iyanda.

This event is part of the #HowToFixNigeria series, hosted by Funmi Iyanda, Oya Media, and the Royal African Society in partnership with the Firoz Lalji Centre for Africa, LSE 


Technology is meant to make things easier, quicker, cheaper. Smart innovation is often seen as a panacea for Nigeria, Africa and the world’s ills. But technology is not just used by people and societies. It also shapes them.

Innovation can change people’s livelihoods and transform politics, culture and economics. Messaging apps and social media allow news (whether real or fake) to spread like wildfire. Mobile money payments enable vast sums to move across the globe in mere seconds. Crowdsourcing platforms allow real-time mapping of humanitarian disasters or election results.

Technology can widen the realm of the possible. However, it can just as easily simply deepen existing fractures and inequalities. At less than 30%, internet penetration in Africa still lags way behind the world average. Meanwhile, levels of access to technology replicate the divides between the rich and poor, urban and rural, male and female.

Nigeria is at the forefront of much innovation on the continent with its buzzing tech hubs and bold entrepreneurs. But can technology fix Nigeria?


Free event, please register on Eventbrite

Kenya Pre-Election Briefing

Wednesday, 2 August 2017 - 6:30pm to 8:00pm
Kenya Pre-Election Briefing
Date & Time: Wednesday 2nd August, 18:30 - 20:00
Venue: Khalili Lecture Theatre, SOAS
Listen to podcast
Speakers: Njoki Wamai, University of Cambridge; Justin Willis, Durham Unviersity; Edwin Orero, Royal Holloway University & Keni Kariuki, SOAS
Chair: Agnes Gitau (GBS Africa)
Kenya, East Africa's largest economy, will hold a general election on 8th August 2017. It is difficult to speak of Kenya's democratic process without referencing the 2007/2008 post-election crisis which saw over 1300 hundred innocent people killed and many others displaced. The nation held elections in 2013 which were peaceful in comparison but critics doubt whether peace is sustainable, claiming that factors that led to violence in 2007/2008 have never been dealt with. Can the country move forward without confronting this past? And with the devolution of powers in political and legislative units, does this election represent a shift in the relationship between local and national power?  
In economic terms, Kenya has in the last decade rebuilt its position in the regional and global affairs, its communication and infrastructure sectors making the nation a competitive investment destination. With the decline of Nigeria's economy and crisis in South Africa, leaders outside the continent seem to be inclined to strengthening relationships with Kenya (note the recent participation of President Kenyatta at the G7 summit and representing Africa at the Silk Road Forum). How will these relations play out post-election? The current drought and food shortage is having a significant impact on the battle for office. What does the political economy of agriculture and food security look like after election day has passed? 
This event is presented by the Royal African Society in partnership with GBS Africa.
Speaker Bios
Njoki Wamai is a Kenyan Post Doctoral Researcher at the Politics and International Studies Department's Centre for Human Rights and Governance(CGHR) at the University of Cambridge. She completed her Phd in Politics and International Studies at the Cambridge Politics Department in 2016 with a thesis that focused on the everyday politics of intervention within the Kenyan context. She has previous degrees from the University of Nairobi and the Africa Leadership Centre(ALC) at King's College London. She is currently working on a book manuscript on the politics of the ICC intervention in Kenya at the everyday level.

Edwin Orero is a final year Doctoral candidate at the School of Management, Royal Holloway, University of London. Edwin's PhD thesis examines the adoption and use of Public Private Partnerships (PPPs) in Kenya, within the context of a lower middle income country, in meeting key infrastructural and public policy needs. Edwin is also a qualified accountant and a member of the Institute of Certified Public Accountants of Kenya (ICPAK) and has worked both as an external and internal auditor in different organizations, both in Kenya and in the UK.

Justin Willis is Professor of Modern African History at the University of Durham. He was formerly Director of the British Institute in Eastern Africa (BIEA) in Nairobi. He is also the Vice President of Research and Chair of the Research Committee at the BIEA. His work is largely concerned with identity, authority and social change in Eastern Africa over the last two hundred years.

Keni Kariuki is a PhD candidate at the School of  African and Oriental Studies. His research focus is on Kenyan agricultural public policy and the political economy of the Kenyan agricultural sector. Previously, he focused on the ‘right to food’ from a legal perspective, before being confronted with the reality of the intersection of formal and informal institutional interactions within the political settlement of developing nations. Currently, he seeks to address the reasons for the disparity in performance of various commodities through the lens of rents, with a specific focus on the county of his birth, Kenya.

Chair: Agnes Gitau is a partner at GBS Africa, a boutique Africa Advisory Firm whose focus is to link Africa projects to global pools of Capital Her role in the firm involves supporting International corporates manage political and policy risks associated with Africa Investments.

Tickets: £5 / Free for RAS Members and SOAS staff & students. Please book on Eventbrite.


SOAS Africa Conference : Alternative forms of Protest in Africa

Friday, 21 July 2017 - 12:30pm to 1:30pm


Alternative forms of Protest in Africa

Date & Time: Friday 21 July, 12:30-13:30

Venue: B102, Brunei Gallery Building

Speakers:  James Wan (African Arguments), Nanjala Nyabola (Independent Researcher),  Jenny Mbaye (City University), Stephen Chan (SOAS)
Chair: Anna De Mutiis (Centre of African Studies SOAS)


In many countries across Africa and the rest of the world, civic space is shrinking and leaders are becoming more entrenched. In response, activists are coming up with new protest strategies. In this lunchtime workshop, we bring together practitioners, analysts and scholars to look at the innovative ways that citizens are making their voices heard. We will question the impact of these alternative methods and look at their global implications. What can African activists teach the rest of the world and what can they learn from it?

This event is part of the SOAS Africa Conference


The moral economy of elections in Africa: Research from Ghana, Kenya and Uganda

Tuesday, 13 June 2017 - 6:00pm to 7:15pm




Date & Time: Tuesday, 13 June 2017 - 6:00pm to 7:15pm

Venue: Lecture Hall, British Academy,10-11 Carlton House Terrace, St. James's, London SW1Y 5AH

Speakers: Nic Cheeseman,  Birmingham University; Gabrielle Lynch, University of WarwickJustin Willis, University of Durham

 Chair:  Dr George Bob-Milliar,  Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology


Since the 1950s, elections by secret ballot and adult suffrage have lain at the heart of both dreams and fears about Africa’s possible futures – and have sparked continuing debates. Will the vote transform governance, teaching citizenship and making governments accountable? Will unscrupulous politicians stoke ethnic and sectarian hatred, sparking chaos? Or are elections merely a show for an international audience, a threadbare disguise for authoritarian rulers? The results of a major ESRC-funded project suggest that the universal secret ballot is much more embedded in popular ideas of authority than sceptics would argue. But the research has also shown that the ballot has not had any uniform or transformative effect on citizenship; and that elections themselves are not always what they seem. Elections are nominally constructed through law and regulation; they are made of paper, and process. Yet the behaviour of voters, candidates and officials is shaped by expectations and attitudes that make demands, and impose constraints,  quite distinct from -  and even contradictory to - the formal rules. This lecture explores the emergence, nature and significance of these moral economies of elections.

Speaker’s bios:

Nic Cheeseman is Professor of Democracy and International Development at Birmingham University. In addition to numerous book chapters, he is the author of Democracy in Africa: Successes, failures and the struggle for political reform (CUP, 2015) and over twenty journal articles. These days, he spends much of his time writing about contemporary events in Africa in a bi-weekly column for Kenya’s Daily Nation newspaper. Professor Cheeseman also regularly provides analysis to the UK and US governments, and is an advisor to, and writer for, Kofi Annan’s African Progress Panel.

Gabrielle Lynch is Professor of Comparative Politics at the University of Warwick. Her research interests lie in understanding the nature and political salience of ethnic identities, politics of being indigenous, causes of inter-communal violence, impact and utility of reconciliation and transitional justice mechanisms, and elections and democratization.

Justin Willis is Professor of Modern African History at the University of Durham. He was formerly Director of the British Institute in Eastern Africa (BIEA) in Nairobi. He is also the Vice President of Research and Chair of the Research Committee at the BIEA. His work is largely concerned with identity, authority and social change in Eastern Africa over the last two hundred years.

 Dr George Bob-Milliar is  is Senior Lecturer at the Department of History and Political Studies, Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology, Kumasi, Ghana. He earned his Ph.D. from the University of Ghana-Legon. His articles have appeared in leading journals including Democratization, Journal of Modern African Studies, African Affairs, and International Journal of African Historical Studies. He has been visiting fellow at Cambridge University, Makerere University, and the Danish Institute for International Studies (DIIS). 

This event is in partnership with the British Institute in Eastern Africa. The event is free and open to all but spaces are limited.

The event is livestreamed here:


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'.



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.
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
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!