Chika Okeke-Agulu: You are all welcome to this Nka Roundtable IV focusing on independent art centers in Africa. There is no doubt in my mind that all of you are part of a significant phenomenon, without which progress in the field of contemporary art within the African continent is frankly inconceivable. My hope is that this forum allows us to discuss, debate and examine the necessity of projects such as yours, the challenges of establishing and operating such initiatives in Africa, the difference such programs have made or can make in your local environments, opportunities of international networking, questions of funding and sustainability, etc.
Let me begin by noting that I am fascinated by the work you all are engaged in in various parts of the continent and I am struck by the unprecedented intensity, variety and different emphases in your programming and goals. This is a clear indication of the increasing sophistication of the field of contemporary African art within the continent. It also suggests to me that each of you got involved in your present work in contemporary art for diverse reasons, and with different goals. One thing that seems to underlie all your work, however, is the desire to make a difference, to reimagine the conditions for the production of and discussion about contemporary. In other words, you all seem to want to offer possibilities that did not exist in your localities and in the continent. But before we go on to core issues outlined above, could each of you talk briefly about your career backgrounds and why you established or became involved in your various art centers.