By Gloria Dulan-Wilson

Hello All: My friend and colleague, Dr. Chika Onyeani sent me a press release recently that I am sharing with you in a slightly altered form. I’ve woven some of my own comments in with the release, in hopes that you will receive the message and be willing - no, compelled - to play a role in the liberation of Africa, that leads back to the ultimate liberation of African Americans and people of Black African heritage:

Somewhere back in the 1960’s Africans and African Americans began working to re-establish their linkages after 400 years of separation and cultural deprivation. During that time, the Civil Rights and Black Power Movements were running concurrently with what was then called African Liberation from Colonialism. Many African countries, including Nigeria, Ghana, Guinea, Mali, Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, Sierra Leone, Liberia, among others got their liberation from the colonial monsters of England, Germany, Italy, France, etc.

It we were on the path to reunification, as we African and African American Black men and women began to honor our lost African heritage. In the US we began wearing our hair “natural“, wearing African colors, and traditional African clothing and jewelry; reading African authors, studying African philosophy, learning to speak Yoruba, Ibo, Swahili, Lingala, and other African based languages; and making trips to the motherland to meet our long lost sisters and brothers.

We began studying, quoting and following quoting Nkrumah, Azikewe, Senghor, Frederick Douglass, Sekou Toure`, Chinua Achebe, Malcolm X, Jomo Kenyatta, Langston Hughes, James Baldwin, Frantz Fanon, Soyinka, Carter G. Woodson, and other great African and African American writers and philosophers, who were popular during that time, and marveling at all the wonders of Africa that we had not been told about as a result of the pariah of slavery that had separated us for 400 + years.

It looked like we were on the right track and that things were coming together for us. Africans and African Americans united together again at last! What wonderful days they were!!

Unfortunately, while we were basking in the glory of our mutual admiration, love and respect for each other, the age old perennial enemy was busy putting together a formula that would undermine any further progress and reunification plans we may have had in mind. That formula and tactic was and is called DIVIDE AND CONQUER. And it is just as lethal today as it was then.

The next 40 years our African brothers and sisters were embroiled in bogus wars on our continent where Russian and American spent millions in dollars and rubles, flooding their economies to buy off those heads of state who were woefully unaware of the ploys in place to destabilize our efforts for unity and autonomy.

Russia and America brought the cold war to Africa, battling in Angola, Mozambique and other areas, that had nothing to do with the people who lived there, but more to do with the neo-colonial powers who wanted to keep us off balance while they continued to exploit us and rob us of natural resources.

{NOTE: I use 'w and us", interchangeably with "my and our" when it comes to Africa, because as far as I’m concerned we are really still one. To me geography does not change family.}

Simultaneously those same 40 years in America witnessed a concomitant loss of our moral compass here in the US, as our youth descended into drugs, guns, gangs, thugs, and a dumbing down of our educational system, to the extent that many of our children (and a goodly number of adults) are functionally illiterate, unskilled, semi-skilled, or “indigent.”

In an effort to rectify the massive problems we face both on the Continent and in the Diaspora, a recently held two-day African Diaspora Conference took place on October 21st and 22nd. Hosted by African Union Permanent Observer to the UN, and the African Union Embassy to the US in DC, it was initiated by the Addis Ababa Headquartered African Union Commission, and The African Diaspora Meeting Committee. The theme of the meeting was "Building Bridges Across the Atlantic."

Ambassador Amina Ali of what the DC-based African Union office had accomplished since opening in 2007. She aggressively delivered the essence of the AU Diaspora Initiative by traveling across the US, Canada, the Caribbean and Central/South American countries. The message was the need for the Diaspora to recognize its important role to Africa and the African Union, especially as the Sixth Region of the Union. Ambassador Ali stayed throughout the two-day meeting, helping to guide the deliberations of the meeting.

Consequently CIDO Director, Dr. Adisa, provided more reasons of why the meeting had been convened, calling it a "precedent setting event, which we hope will set the pace for an annual consultation process with the African Diaspora in US, the Caribbean and Central//South America, Europe and the Middle-East, amongst others. In organizational terms, this is also an exercise in inter-collegiality that serves as an inspiration for the Commission and various organs of the Union to work together as one in the spirit of cooperation and solidarity that underpins the purpose of the African Union."

Dr. Adisa discussed the different sectors of the African Union, including "Objectives of This Dialogue," "The Initiative Within the Context of the Development of the African Union," "Rebuilding the Global African Family," "Definition of the African Diaspora," "Engagement Strategies,""Organizational Processes," ending with the "Global African Diaspora Summit."

Dr. Adisa covered the processes that led to the recognition of the Diaspora as a Sixth Region of the African Union. "Soon after the launching of the African Union in Durban, South Africa in 2002," he said, "the Assembly of Heads of States met in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia to establish, among other things, a legal framework that would create the necessary and sufficient conditions for putting this decision into effect. Hence, it adopted the Protocol of the Amendment to the Constitutive Act of the Union, which in Article 3(q) invited the African Diaspora to participate fully as an important component in the building of the African Union.

In adopting the decision," he continued, "the Protocol symbolically recognized the Diaspora as an important and separate, but related, constituency outside the five established regions of Africa - East, West, Central, North and South. Thus, although there is no specific legal or political text that states this categorically, it, in effect, created a symbolic sixth region of Africa."

Regarding the definition of the African Diaspora, Dr. Adisa said that a meeting of Experts from Member States had met in 2005 and adopted the following definition, "The African Diaspora consists of peoples of African origin living outside the continent, irrespective of their citizenship and nationality and who are willing to contribute to the development of the continent and building of the African Union."

Dr. Adisa stated that many debates and disagreements on the definition of diaspora had taken place. There were those who felt the need for "academic" and "intellectual" aspects to the definition, while others thought it should be related to the political needs of the Union.

Another group preferred the need to add "permanently" to "living outside the continent. "Others," he said, "argued that the phrase "willingness to contribute to the development of the continent and the building of the African Union" should be left out. Nothing, they felt, should be demanded or expected from the Diaspora.

According to Dr. Adisa, the African Union preferred its earlier definition, which encompasses the following:
(a) Bloodline and/or heritage: The Diaspora should consist of people living outside the continent whose ancestral roots or heritage are in Black Africa;
(b) Migration: The Diaspora should be composed of people of Black African heritage, who migrated from or are living outside the continent. In this context, three trends of migration were identified - pre-slave trade, slave trade, and post-salve trade or modern migration;
(c) The principle of inclusiveness: The definition must embrace both ancient and modern Diaspora; and
(d) The commitment to the African case: The Diaspora should be people who are willing to be part of the continent (or the African family).

A special African Diaspora Task Team, elected by the constituency, is in the process of formulating a progress report detailing the accomplishments thus far. The Task Team consists of six members. Five elements had been identified as a guide to what the Task Team should consist of: Afro-Latinos, Community, Gender, Media, and Youth. Members of the Task Team, include Dr. Georgina Falu for Afro-Latinos, Mr. Sidique Wai and Mr. Omowale Clay, for Community, Ms. Kathy Jenkins Ewa for Gender, Dr. Chika A. Onyeani for Media, and Engr. Daniel Ochweri for Youth. The Task Team was later given their terms of mandate within which to work, report and conclude their assignment within three months.

Dr. Chika A. Onyeani, noted economist, author, and publisher of the African Sun Times, and chair of the African Diaspora Task Team, voiced concerns about several challenges Africans and African Americans face, both on the Continent and in the US Diaspora:
1) Being victimized by the media’s portrayal of Africans and African Americans in the news (which is not helped by the fact that there are still internecine wars in the Sudan and other areas, with children being pressed into service and women being beaten and raped);
2) Leaders and heads of state who pay millions of dollars to mainstream white media to write about them, while I gnoring their own Black and African news media;
3) Not having the necessary basic and professional trade skills to fulfill the current demands for building, repair or development services (here and in Africa).

Stated Onyeani, “If you need to build something, or if something needs to be repaired in Africa, we have to rely on whites (and now the Chinese) to do the job. Their prices are usually overly high, and you really don’t know if they are doing the job properly or not because you don’t have the skill or experience yourself.”

One of the key things Onyeani is hoping will come of this new collaboration between the Diaspora and Africa, is a broader based coverage of African and African American news via our newspapers. Training programs that can be exported to Africa by skilled and licensed tradesmen in the fields of plumbing, electricity and electronics, agriculture, green technologies, health and hygiene and educational programs.

“This is the 21st Century. If we have to develop some kind of boot camp so that this training is spread throughout all of Africa, then that’s what we must do. The Diaspora has a great role to play in this, because many of them have those skill sets that we need,” stated Onyeani intensely.

Likewise, the attention to the need to collaborate on business development and support was covered at the conference. Ambassador and Permanent Representative of the Republic of Malawi Mr. Brian Bowler, Chairman of the African Ambassadorial Group, exhorted his colleagues to be more creative in doing business with the Diaspora. "For example," he said, "during the UN General Assembly meeting each September, let's assume that each of the 53 African countries spend just $500,000 (with a Black business), we are talking $25 million that could go to an African Diaspora company. That's $25 million in less than one month!"

As Chairman of the African Union, Ambassador Bowler represents President Binbu wa Mutharika of Malawi. He challenged his colleagues to look for African Diaspora companies to do business with. He also felt the relationship with the Diaspora should not be a one-way street, "especially as a businessman who owns three breweries in three different African countries."

Finally, in regards to the importance the African Union attached to the Diaspora, Dr. Adisa stated that sixty per cent of the AU Recruitment Committee consisted of individuals from the African Diaspora. and how he himself attained his present position after interviewing with two recruitment committees chaired by African Diaspora.

On October 21, an Award Dinner, organized by Nation to Nation Networking (NNN) CEO Ms. Abaynesh Asarat, in collaboration with the African Union was held at Club 51st Street. In attendance was His Excellency Ambassador Ramtane Lamamra, the African Union Commissioner for Peace and Security.

Award recipients included Elinor Tatum of the Amsterdam News; Dr. Kwame Akonor, Director of the African Development Institute; Dr. Muriel Petioni, M.D., the "Mother of Medicine in Harlem"; Dabney N. Montgomery, of Harlem Community Board 10; and Mr. Seri Remy Gnoleba, Chairman of the African Chamber of Commerce in the U.S.

Other AU officials participants included Mr. Anthony Okara, Deputy Chief of Staff of the Bureau of the Deputy Chairperson, Dr. Jinmi Adisa, Diaspora Director of the African Union Commission (Citizens And Diaspora Directorate (CIDO); Dr. Fareed Arthur, Advisor (Strategic Matters, Bureau of the Deputy Chairperson of the Commission), Mr. Wuyi Omitoogun (Expert, Diaspora Relations, CIDO) and Ms. Nadia Roguiai (Expert, ECOSOCC, CIDO).

Two African Union Ambassadors in the United States, who attended, were Ambassador Tete Antonio, Permanent Observer of the African Union to the United Nations; and Ambassador Amina Salum Ali, Ambassador of the African Union to the United States, Washington, DC. Much gratitude and appreciation to these two for their involvement in the planning and coordination of this first ever conference.

But it doesn’t stop there. We have a great role to play in this, both here in the Diaspora of the US and in our home continent of Africa. We have to put our considerably creative minds together and begin to unify. There was a saying, created by Alma Johns, “each one teach one, each one, reach one!” that has to be our mantra as we begin to reach out to our African brothers and sisters and reach in to our fellow diasporan brothers and sisters.

In much the same way other imigrants who come here support their “mother or father land”, we have to do the same. Otherwise, we will be the only race of people on the planet to not have supported their own mother land, and become the only continent in the world laboring under the heavy heeled boots of European and Chinese exploiters, instead of being in control of our own destiny and quality of life.

Yes, it’s a tall order, especially at a time when the US is undergoing an economic “crises”. But that does not mitigate the fact that it has to be done and done now. WHEN NO ONE ELSE WILL SAVE YOU, SAVE YOURSELF.

As brother Marcus Garvey said, “Rise up, you might race, you can accomplish what you will!”

And let's not also forget that President Barack Obama is one of the brightest and the best ever produced by both Africa and the Diaspora, and can be an inspiration to us all in what we can do when we put our minds, our might, our discipline and our unity to it. And the time for that to happen is NOW.

Inquiries and comments should be addressed to Dr. Georgina Falu, Secretary to the ADTT Board at email: falug@aol.com or to African Diaspora Task Team of the African Union c/o The Permanent Observer Mission of the African Union to the United Nations, 305 East 47th Street, New York, NY 10017 Tel. : 212-319-5490, Fax: 319-7135; email: AUDTT2011@gmail.com

Gloria Dulan-Wilson

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