Monday, 13 November 2017
I am honoured and delighted to take up the role of Director of the Royal African Society. For over a hundred years it has played a crucial role in promoting a better understanding of, and improved relations between, Africa and the United Kingdom.
Britain and Africa are an integral part of each other's history, and a growing part of each other's present. Hundreds of thousands of people of African origin live in Britain. Business and trade between us continue to grow, and global challenges such as climate change and terrorism affect both of us deeply. In a world of ever closer connections it is more important than ever to understand each other - our history, our interests, our identity and our cultures - and allow open discussion and debate over our collective future and how we interact.
The Royal African Society provides an unparalleled network and platform through which we can have this discussion, promote understanding, identify those mutual interests, and encourage action.
Ever since I first visited Africa in 1976 (then as a back-packing, hitch-hiking student), I have been learning about the continent and connecting with its people. After seven years living in East and West Africa and as many more dealing with Africa in Brussels and London, leading the RAS is a tremendous opportunity to put those connections to work for the mutual benefit of Britain and Africa.
I look forward to working with all of you to that end, and meeting you as soon as the opportunity arises.
- Nick Westcott