First Consultation of the African Diaspora to the African Union
October 21st – 22nd 2010
African Union Headquarters New York
Greetings beloved children of the African continent,
It has been a long road home since the taking away into captivity of over 900 million of us into distance lands toped with the scramble for Africa which left our beautiful continent demarcated. Finally with the strong will of our African Ancestral and current day leadership with the courage of us all expanding over a period of nearly 600 years, we are truly retuning home. After much work and endless days all around the world in church basements, school cafeterias and meeting halls for nearly ten years or more your time, money and intellect has finally sprung forth the first African Diaspora meeting to the African Union.
This two day conference held October 21 -22, 2010 titled, “Building Bridges Across the Atlantic”, was convened at the African Union Headquarters downtown New York. About 40 to 50 or more African Diaspora based organizations received consultation from the leadership of the Africa Union and its Diaspora sector on past, present and future goals of the Diaspora towards firstly organizing its self, then to help build up Africa. The leadership present were Ambassador Tete Antonio, Permanent Observer of the African Union to the United Nations, Dr. Jinmi Adisa, Diaspora Director of the African Union Commission (Citizens And Diaspora Directorate CIDO), Ambassador and Permanent Representative of the Republic of Malawi Mr. Brian Bowler, Ambassador Amina Salum Ali Extraordinary & Plenipotentiary of the African Union to the United States, Washington, DC., Mr. Anthony Okara, Deputy Chief of Staff of the Bureau of the Deputy Chairperson, Ms. Nadia Roguiai (Expert, ECOSOCC,) Dr. Fareed Arthur Advisor (Strategic Matters, Bureau of the Deputy Chairperson of the Commission), and Mr. Wuyi Omitoogun (Expert, Diaspora Relations, CIDO).
Chairman and Permanent Representative of Malawi to the United Nations H.E. Mr. Brian Bowler, was very genuine in establishing the spirit of the meeting and showing that the AU is fully aware of the real issues and points of the Pan African movement and the efforts of the Diaspora to formulate a structure with in the African Union. He expressed the historical effects of racism on African people leading to the need for social emancipation within a diverse African population. Colonial rule over the African continent toped with the formations of colonial states would go on to holt the Pan African momentum leading to a reduction of the, “African story to aspiration of colonial entities and later to an inter-government expression”. He presented the complications within the movement with the fading away of the leaders who lead the building blocks towards a collective identity, whom have now pasted away, to a newer generation of leadership who do not have the same understanding given a changing world. However he recognized that all ties can be healed through family conversations.
He reported a list of expected outcomes concerning the Diaspora which included the affirmation and reconsolidation of the global African family, increase awareness among the African Diaspora population about the structures, processes and workings of the African Union, greater identification with its objectives and purposes, and more effective and results-oriented Diaspora contributions to work of the African Union in particular of development of the continent in general.
One of the main items he expressed was the need to establish an African Diaspora database where skilled and professional Africans can be listed and called to carry out such works that are needed for the African continent as well as here in the Diaspora. He states his experiences of having to utilize a non African car services when he comes to New York when surly African people have car and taxi companies to whom he can spend his money with for services. The need of doctors in Africa also is overwhelming, but the Diaspora holds the largest of number Africans in this field. The need to have a task committee to create and gather information concerning the African Diaspora was in direct relationship to this fact.
Those present on the second day of the meeting organized themselves in to segments to deal with various identified areas of the concern for the African Diaspora. The flowing people and areas have been elected to serve on the African Diaspora to the African Union Task Committee: 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 Committee’s main objective is to gather all need information from the Diaspora and have reports ready to make a report at the African Diaspora Summit being held in South Africa this coming 2011.
We learned that the African Union is recognizing the , “Decade of the Woman”, and all women on the move was encouraged to stand firm in their efforts in whatever fields they maybe in. H.E. Amina Salum Ali, Ambassador Extraordinary & Plenipotentiary of the African Union to the United States, Washington, DC confirmed the works of the African Union towards its Diaspora missions by hosting varies meetings and discussions in Detroit, Michigan; Huston, Texas; Seattle, Washington; Milwaukee, Wisconsin; New York, Canada and in Chicago, Ill. What joy it was to know that while we were hard at work on the grounds in spreading the message of unity within the African context, our leadership was hard at work as well conducting forums and talks throughout the Diaspora to gain the awareness of the Diaspora and what was needed in order to make an effective African structure. She states her continual commitment to the Diaspora effort and even now, she says, “there is a Diaspora Bureau and Ministries in many of the governments in Africa, and Africans when traveling to the continent should seek to familiarize themselves with them”.
Her presentation highlighted key issues concerning the developmental process of the African Diaspora:
- How can the Diaspora interact with the Commissions?
- How to proceed in ECSOSOCC (where the Diaspora was given 20 seats which would allow voting rights towards developmental issues concerning Africa…..how to structure it is still pending, but insights did occur. It was report that organizations would need to be registered (?))
- Citizenship of the African Diaspora( recommendations were to wait for the Summit in South Africa to have the Task Committee to make presentations recommending steps to take on being citizens of Africa)
- How to change the, “Brain Drain”, to “Brian Gain” (Need to know what are the experiences and skills of the Diaspora so contracts can be assigned. A list “database”, needs to be collected.
- Health Experts (1 million healthcare experts are needed for Africa and over 4,000 are in the United States alone).
- Awareness Campaigns promoting the positive side of Africa’s success, by empowering African Diaspora media in inspiring ways.
- How can the African Diaspora move the African agenda a head?
- Diaspora to host African Diaspora Per Summit in the United States( this summit will prepare the agenda items from Task Committee findings to then be submitted to the South African Diaspora Summit)
- Diaspora to engage with African House
Her Excellency Ail concluded with wanting to see a stronger African Diaspora and stressed the production of a booklet of African telnets.
During the interactive discussion we further learned that knowing exactly where and what the Diaspora is was determined by having meetings with the African people and organizations born and functioning in the Diaspora (lands / countries outside of Africa) in different states and within other forms of governments. In 2008 African Diaspora conferences were being held within an A.U. framework. After a long day of spirit filled dialogue from the AU leadership, H.E. Dr. Jinmi Adisa, Diaspora Director of the African Union Commission, delivered lastly a dry and clean profile of the working nature of the African Diaspora. He states that, “ The African Diaspora consist 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’. This definition was adopted at the next Ordinary Session of Council and Assembly in July 2005.”
This working definition was very important to the Diaspora due to identity issues flaring between Africans born in the Diaspora who are the direct descendants of the Africans from all over the continent who were carried away into captivity to the Western worlds, who succeeded in breaking the yoke of bondage, and went on to fight for civil and social rights that all peoples of America now enjoy i.e. (African /Black Americans, those born in the Islands like Trinidad, Jamaica, Haiti also to include the indigenous peoples of the Americas, who too, just as their American and Islander counterparts, fought in maintaining land rights and indigenous cultural traditions) and Continental Africans( those born in Africa who migrated to the West per captivity and assisted in the building blocks of the Western society with trade goods that are now tangible “New World” commodities and agricultural / scientific development; and those who later migrated for various reasons concerning educational or work opportunity, relief from persecution and exile, or financial stability.) This was also topped with the South American and Spanish speaking Africans who for some time have went unnoticed due to the issues still arising within that community.
The Pan African / African Diaspora identity the claim of “owner’s right for recognition”, is one of the key elements in the stagnation in which H.E. Mr. Brian Bowler states in his findings recognizing that in the first Pan African conference being held in Europe, and later other places, consisted of Africans from various prospectives who shared a commend ancestry and who were facing the same unjust treatments where ever they were. When these leaders passed on, the younger generation combined with a changing world lead to ideas of separatisms, which the Pan African Forefathers saw themselves as one! With one command problem leading to one command solution…. African unity for African peoples liberation. This working definition presented by the African Union has made it clear that the African Diaspora consists of ANY African who desires to work for the increase of Africa, which all Africans home and abroad can appreciate.
Moving forward, H.E. Dr. Jinmi Adisa also reaffirms this unity for the African Diaspora by outlining the very people who make up the Diaspora:
- Bloodline and/or heritage: The Diaspora should consist of people living outside the continent whose ancestral roots or heritage are in Africa
- Migration: The Diaspora should be composed of people of 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;
- The principle of inclusiveness: The definition must embrace both ancient and modern Diaspora; and
- 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 key component of the African Union Diaspora initiative is regular dialogue with members of the Diaspora. This process of global consultative dialogue began as part of the process of building up the momentum for a global African Diaspora Summit which is scheduled to be held in South Africa within the next year or after.” ——-H.E. Dr. Jinm Adisa
Afrikan Unity of Harlem, Inc. would like to congratulate all who participated who have maintained consistence leadership in unity and holding the zeal to build a united Africa.
African leadership can be very complex in today’s modern society when handing an ancient and diverse people like Africans. During the two day conference, “Building Bridges Across the Atlantic”, we witness for ourselves the bright potential of both society and its leadership as we the African people opened the door to sit down and see each other.
We are all here now. A skillful and talented people and their leadership. Let us do business together by helping to build Africa through the same energy in which we build the outside worlds. We are in every field of expertise. We are skilled in every kind of labor and intellect. This moment only requires us to turn back to that right path we were on which created the world’s first civilizations and knowledge. The power of the enemies could not have thought that just in a small amount of time, we who were in bitter captivity and chains, those who were went away, and those who stayed would ascend as a collective globally to reclaim the rightful place fulfilling a destiny on the earth to continue the divine plan of human civilization.
Dear beloved peoples we must comprehend the magnitude of this success. Commencing from now on, every step we take concerning the African Diaspora are miles gained towards the final day where all of Africa and her people are standing as a self sustained nation. The whole world is in Africa reaping fruits that it cannot grow. Not knowing that a small seedling with ancient roots uncutable by man’s evil efforts, is on the verge of growing so fast and wide, it will dorf the world placing it back into its proper order.
Sister Ivory Ann Black II Woletta Sellassie
Afrikan Unity of Harlem, Inc