Lively drummers greet King Charles on visit to London Africa Centre

King speaks to artists, visits a radio station and joins a discussion about the role of African people in the UK

Britain's King Charles III visits the Africa Centre in Southwark, London. Reuters
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Lively drum beats and a warm welcome greeted King Charles III during his first visit to the new Africa Centre in south London.

During his visit to the cultural hub in Southwark, the king spoke to artists, visited a radio station and joined a discussion about the effects of climate change in Africa and the role of African people in the UK.

The Africa Centre originally opened its doors in 1964 to champion the cause of Africa and its people worldwide, and the king toured the new headquarters.

King Charles had previously visited its old Covent Garden home in central London in 1988, when he was Prince of Wales.

On his rainy arrival in a bitter winter chill, he was greeted by the welcoming beats of the Oduduwa Talking Drummers.

“I am so proud, so happy and so honoured because this is what we normally do for our kings in Nigeria,” said Ayan De First, of the Oduduwa Talking Drummers.

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“What we were saying with the drum is playing a special rhythm for the royals, which is to say we respect the king and we are paying homage.

“We use the talking drums to welcome people or to praise them and to do many things.”

The UK-based charity was originally set up to foster non-governmental relations between newly independent countries in Africa and Britain.

It now has a modern-day mission to educate, connect and advocate for Africa and its people around the globe.

Culture, entrepreneurship and innovation, community and intellectual leadership are the main focus of its activities.

King Charles also made a surprise visit to Colourful Radio, billed as a creative studio dedicated to curating African and African-Caribbean music, culture and experiences.

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King Charles apologised if he was interrupting during presenter Selene C Jordan’s afternoon show, only for her to tell him: “No, this is where the party is. We were expecting you. Now we can begin.”

As he left, King Charles asked if non-stop music was played at the digital station, based at the Africa Centre.

Ms Jordan replied that “anytime you tune in, there will be something for you”, as King Charles left the station to the sound of a funky soul soundtrack playing in the background.

He also spoke in private to a group of leading figures from the African community, including Lord Boateng and Nigerian High Commissioner Sarafa Tunji Isola, on a range of issues.

He was given some insight into the impact of climate change in Africa, which has been hit by life-threatening floods and an increasing exhaustion of its natural resources.

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Nzube Ufodike, a trustee at the Africa Centre, described the king’s visit as being like “a pat on the back” for the work that is being done by the organisation.

“It is almost a pat on the back in a way and telling us that we are going in the right direction, that we are seen and that the work we are doing is of some value within our communities,” he said.

“It is a sort of acknowledgement, in my view, of the work we are trying to do and also what we have done so far.

“It is a privilege to be within spaces that can help further the African narrative, that can help champion the African cause and help champion people of African descent who are trying to do more within our communities.”

Updated: January 26, 2023, 11:15 PM