Royal African Society
The Royal African Society is Britain's prime Africa organisation.
Their goal is to promote Africa in business, politics, culture and academia. They are a membership society that works to foster better understanding and strong relationships between Britain, Africa and the world.
Their in-depth knowledge of the continent and their collaborative approach to programmes and partnerships makes them the first choice for anyone who wants to engage, understand, celebrate or learn more about Africa.
They foster a better understanding of Africa in the UK and throughout the world - its history, politics, culture, problems and potential.
They disseminate knowledge and insight to make a positive difference to Africa's development. They celebrate the diversity and depth of African culture.
Their diverse and engaged membership body is made up of people and organisations, big and small, who are passionate about Africa and its future.
Among their members are people from a variety of cultural and professional backgrounds, both Africans and non-Africans, including business leaders, eminent academics, politicians, civil servants, teachers and students, health professionals, journalists and writers, artists and musicians.
The Royal African Society was founded in 1901 – in memory of Mary Kingsley, an English, and travel writer and ethnographer, who completed two trips to West Africa, and significantly shaped British perceptions of Africa.
The idea of a society that would bring together the disparate interests of academics, friends, political alliances and traders was one she spoke of frequently, but which wasn’t made reality until a year after her death in 1900.
Throughout its 100 years or so history, the society’s principle objective has been fostering a better understanding of Africa, though always shaped (pehaps mis-shaped) by the historical context of the time. Established during an era of high imperialism, the original society reflected the power dynamics of its time. Among the first vice-presidents of the society, were George Taubman Goldie, Edward Wilmot Bylden, and William McGregor, then Governor and Commander in Chief of the Colony of Lagos.
The principal objective when the society was founded as read in the objects of the society published in 1902, were “for the purpose of investigating the usages, institutions, customs, religions, antiquities, history and languages of the native races of Africa; of facilitating the commercial and industrial development of the continent in the manner best fitted to secure the welfare of its inhabitants; and as a central institution in England for the study of African subjects. The funds of the society shall be exclusively devoted to furthering these ends by the periodical publication of a Journal, and by the establishment of a library, Reading Room, and should the Society so determine, a Museum.”
These objectives may strike some as relatively progressive, but they were also, of their time. Some of the language would be no less than cringe-worthy, but the broad purpose to which they were devoted is perhaps redemptive, and emblematic of what was of ultimate value about the society.
The museum never happened, but the Journal has been in publication since 1901/02 and continues to be a highly-ranked academic forum for information and articles, about Africa.See more