COVID-19: Update from the Royal African Society
Posted on 23rd March, 2020 in Director's Blog
Dear members and friends,
Like everyone, the Royal African Society has been impacted by the coronavirus Covid-19. I thought it sensible to let you know how we will be operating and what we will be doing as long as the emergency lasts.
Fortunately, none of our staff or Council have yet caught the virus, but several staff were already this week self-isolating either as a preventive measure or because they’d had contact with someone who might (or might not) have caught it. SOAS, University of London – where we have our offices – has also formally closed its doors today to all staff and students until at least the summer term, or longer if necessary.
So, like much of the world, we are now working remotely. As a small team, this is relatively straightforward, but it does mean we won’t be able to answer our office phones, and it will be simplest if you want to contact us to do so by email. If you don’t know which of us is dealing with your issue please use the general email address: firstname.lastname@example.org
For members, OUP assure us you should still receive African Affairs as normal. We will however move these Newsletters to a fortnightly rather than weekly basis, but will keep you posted if there are dramatic changes. We are required by our bye-laws to hold our AGM in the first six months of the year, so we will get back to you in due course about a specific date and whether it will be a virtual or physical meeting. As for our future programme of events, we will keep you informed through the RAS website, but following government advice, we have made the decision to suspend all our events until further notice.
Already, even if indirectly, the coronavirus pandemic is having a major impact on Africa. This is explored in my most recent blog, Coronavirus, Africa and the world, and I recommend following the most up-to-date analysis and articles on the African Arguments site, including the most recent by Olusegun Obasanjo, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf and Jonathan Oppenheimer (here). We will give you the best possible, most up-to-date analysis we can as the pandemic develops.
It is a troubling time for all communities. For the moment the RAS will have to focus primarily on Connecting (at least virtually), Learning and Debating rather than Celebrating. But we will prepare for the time to come when we can resume our full range of activities, and will look forward to seeing you then. We are planning ahead for our biennial Film Africa festival, which is scheduled to run from Friday 30 October to Sunday 8 November, and submissions are now open, so please help us spread this positive news.
Please read our latest newsletter for more information and news on upcoming events linked here.
Until next time, we wish you all good health, and stay safe.