The TRUE AFRICA 100 is our list of innovators, opinion-formers, game-changers, pioneers, dreamers and mavericks who we feel are shaping the Africa of today.
Amal is the newly-appointed CEO of the Africa Centre. Founded in 1964 as a space for Africans across the globe to come together, the charity ‘exists to promote Africa’s cultural diversity outside of the continent’ and a ‘hub to promote creativity and innovation in African art, culture, business and entrepreneurship in London.’ Amal has notable experience in the humanitarian field including work as a team leader for the The Global Fund to Fight HIV/AIDS, TB and Malaria and associate director at United Nations Institute for Training and Research (UNITAR). She has also been a senior manager at PwC and programme manager for Ethiopia, Eritrea, Yemen, Tanzania at United Nations Capital Development Fund, UNCDF/UNDP. Amal shares her ambitions for the organisation.
What are your plans for the Africa Centre?
Exhibiting and supporting Africans’ creative currency on one hand and furthering the discourse around the continent’s development agenda on the other – this is what we are all about. The Africa Centre’s 50-year legacy as a home away from home for Africans and the diaspora means that today we have the opportunity to create a centre of excellence for African arts and culture.
The Africa Centre’s current vision includes organising seminars or ‘sofa-series’ to encourage debate and thought leadership in the social, economic and creative sectors in Africa and within the diaspora. An art gallery for African art and installations and ConceptAfrica Store to promote emerging creative talent, products, fashion and innovative design.
We envision a cafe to provide opportunities for African culinary experiences as well as spaces for exhibitions, film screenings, literature reviews and social events aswell as a business hub to encourage networking and partnerships. And last but not least to develop and implement youth participatory educational community outreach programmes – the backbone of the centre’s genesis.
Which creative movements on the African continent are you most excited?
I must say I have been very excited about the resurgence of comic books, animation and video game developers found across all the parts of the continent! Growing up with local comic and illustrated books seemed to have almost disappeared by the late 80s and 90s.
I am also seeing video game developers using African legendary heroes as protagonists.
These story books and their colourful heroes are so much part of our cultural heritage, seeing the explosion in the continent from Algeria to Cameroon to Kenya and South Africa has been wonderful to see. I am also seeing video game developers using African legendary heroes as protagonists – not only exhibiting the incredible creative skill behind their development but creating a sense of pride and preserving history for the younger generations.
Who’s your African of the year?
My African for the year has been and always will be the women and men living in the rural areas of the continent. I have witnessed first-hand how women, along with local authorities, social workers and health practitioners build schools, clinics and roads. For little or no money these women have in effect overseen the local socio-economic development process.
This is done with incredible efficiency, innovation, leadership and devotion.
For instance, they are responsible for distributing lifesaving drugs, palliative care to thousands and thousands of patients in their communities and neighbourhoods. This is done with incredible efficiency, innovation, leadership and devotion. An astounding and humbling experience, without which many countries development indicators would never progress.
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