African Union Representatives Advance Diaspora

                   IMMEDIATE RELEASE

                                      October 30, 2010                        

New York - “The African Diaspora must be organized” to advance Africa in the 21st century, stressed Dr. Jinmi Adisa to leaders of the African Diaspora during the African Union/Diaspora forum in New York from October 21-22, 2010. The forum was led by Dr. Adisa, the head of the African Union (AU) African Citizens Directorate (CIDO), Ambassador Tete Antonio, AU Representative to the United Nations (UN); Ambassador Madame Salum Ali of the AU Office in Washington, D.C. Also a key speaker was His Excellency Brian Bowler of Malawi, representing both the U.N. and the current Chairman of the African Union, Malawi’s President Bingu wa Mutharika, 

 

Some Diaspora delegates to the AU meeting were Dr. Leonard Jeffries, Baba John Watusi Branch, Nana Farika Berhane, Omowale Clay, Queen Mother Blakely, Randy Weston, Dr. Chika Onyeani and Queen Quet. Some of the key issues raised at the forum were Diaspora African citizenship, economic partnership, women and youth empowerment, African Latino involvement in AU initiatives, and the establishment of an African Diaspora task force to work with the AU.

 

The two-day AU affair coincided with the annual WADU Diaspora commemoration of the famed 1945 5th Pan African Congress (PAC) that led to the freedom and independence of African people worldwide. The current OAU/AU is a continuation of the Pan African Movement that was formally launched at the 1900 Pan African Congress with the influence of African nationalism in the late 19th century, at the height of European invasion of Africa.

 

At the WADU 5th PAC “Decade for Development” anniversary forum on Saturday October 23, 2010 at City College in Harlem, NY, WADU Vice President Dr. Leonard Jeffries gave greetings from His Excellency Dudley Thompson, President of WADU, stating that this historic moment is “to finally pull African people together to rebuild after centuries of isolation and destruction.” Ambassador Dudley Thompson was a participant of the 5th Pan African Congress in 1945. During the forum, Baba Watusi Branch, WADU Chief Secretariat, declared that with this new opportunity “we must act decisively to promote Pan African economics by increasing Diaspora investments and trade with Africa.”  

 

Other meetings to commemorate the PAC 65th anniversary were held across the African Diaspora, such as Washington, DC and at the historic Clark Atlanta University (CAU) in Atlanta, Georgia. At the forum at CAU, Dr. Joyce King, WADU Commissioner of Education, who also holds the Benjamin E. Mays Endowed Chair for Urban Teaching, Learning & Leadership at GA State University, called on the great spirit of Dr. Asa Hilliard, for Africans to “build Pan African education system that recovers our language, lost memories, and reconnect us to our historical consciousness as a global African family.” WADU has urged the African Union to join in partnership with Diaspora Black universities for the building of a Pan African university system.

 

Also in Atlanta, WADU Chair, Reverend Dr. Ndugu T’Ofori-Atta called for peace and justice action in partnership with the AU in conflict ravaged areas of the African world such as Haiti, Columbia, the Congo, and the Sudan. He recommended that significant personalities of the African Diaspora such as Danny Glover, Rita Marley and Pele be tapped as Diaspora ambassadors for peace and development. 

 

Finally, during the forum in Washington, D.C., WADU Executive Council leader, Nana Farika Berhane called for an immediate follow-up to the recent AU proposals stating “Diaspora leaders must act now and in unity.” Farika was a participant of the recent AU meeting in NY, the official Diaspora representative at the OAU 6th PAC in 1974 and an organizer for the 7th PAC under Dr. John Henrik Clarke in the 1990’s.

 

WADU was initiated in Atlanta, Georgia by James Small, current head of the Organization for Afro-American Unity (OAAU), as a charge from the 2004 Africa/African Diaspora Intellectual Conference in Senegal, led by Dr. Molefi K. Asante. WADU was formalized in 2007 by His Excellency Dudley Thompson, Elombe Brath, Dr. Leonard Jeffries and Nana Yaa Farika Berhane in Jamaica. Since then WADU has established itself as a formidable organization across the Diaspora to unite the African Diaspora with Africa. This recent meeting with AU occurred after WADU led a delegation to Addis Ababa, Ethiopia for its annual summit to pressure the AU on the significance of working with the African Diaspora, for the rebuilding of Africa.

 

For more information on WADU annual Executive forum this January 2011 in Florida or the AU/UN report to the Diaspora, please contact WADUPAM.Org, WADUSEC in NY at 718-523-3312, (WADUSEG) in Georgia at 404-527-7756.

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PRESS RELEASE

For Immediate Release

November 1, 2010

 

AFRICAN UNION MOVES TO ESTABLISH STRONGER TIES WITH THE AFRICAN DIASPORA



NEW YORK, New York, Oct. 21-22  - The African Union took a giant step on Thursday and Friday, October 21 and 22, in its efforts to galvanize Africans in the Diaspora by convening the African Diaspora Meeting at the offices of the Permanent Observer Mission of the African Union to the United Nations.  The African Diaspora Meeting, labeled “Building Bridges Across the Atlantic,” was organized by the African Union Commission, the main administrative body of the African Union, through its offices in the United States, including the Permanent Observer Mission of the African Union to the United Nations, New York, and the African Union Embassy to the United States, Washington, DC.  Taking charge of the two-day meeting was a strong delegation from the African Union Commission in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.  The African Union Permanent Observer Mission’s Conference Hall was the venue of the meeting.
The high powered officials from the African Union headquarters, led by Mr. Anthony Okara, Deputy Chief of Staff of the Bureau of the Deputy Chairperson, included 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)

.  The 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.
In his second welcoming address within minutes, the Ambassador and Permanent Representative of the Republic of Malawi Mr. Brian Bowler delivered a most explosive and rousing speech, in which he called on his colleagues in dealing with the Diaspora, especially when it comes to economic well-being of the group.   “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, we are talking of $25 million that could  go to an  African Diaspora company.  That’s $25 million in less than one month,” he said.  Ambassador Bowler, who was speaking as Chairman of the African Ambassadorial Group in his capacity as a representative of President Binbu wa Mutharika of Malawi as current Chairman of the African Union, challenged his colleagues to begin looking for African Diaspora companies to do business with, as he felt that 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.”
After Ambassador Antonio welcomed the group, Ambassador Amina Ali took over and delivered an equally forceful presentation of what the African Union office in Washington, DC, has accomplished since opening in 2007.  She informed the group that she has aggressively moved to deliver the essence of the AU Diaspora Initiative by traveling all across the United States, Canada as well as the Caribbean and Central/ and South American countries in bringing a message of 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 in helping to guide the deliberations of the meeting.
Consequently CIDO Director, Dr. Adisa, provided more reasons of why the meeting had been called.  Dr. Adisa began by calling the meeting 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 went on to discuss 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,” and ending with the “Global African Diaspora Summit.”

Dr. Adisa discussed 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 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 informed the group that there had been a lot of debates and disagreements on the definition.  There were those who felt the need for an “academic” and “intellectual” aspects to the definition and the other that would be related to the political needs of the Union.  Another group, he said, 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.

The African Union preferred its earlier definition, as according to Dr. Adisa, it 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 Africa;
(b)  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;
(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 paid of the continent (or the African family).

Finally, with regards to the importance that the African Union attached to the Diaspora, Dr. Adisa informed the group that 60% of the Recruitment Committee of the African Union 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.

After the addresses, the group spent a lot of time making comments, asking questions and expressing their concerns about one issue or another.  After the deliberation, the group was informed that it was necessary for the group to establish a Task Team, which should consist of five members, but later changed to six members due to numerous organizations represented at the meeting.  Earlier, five elements had been identified as a guide to what the Task Team should consist of, including Afro-Latinos, Community, Gender, Media, and Youth.  After the group was separated into its different elements to choose their representative, the following individuals emerged as members of the Task Team, including 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.

Later on Thursday evening the 21st October, there was an Award Dinner Gala organized by Nation to Nation Networking (NNN), whose CEO is Ms. Abaynesh Asarat, in collaboration with the African Union at 3 West 51st Street at Club 51st Street, attended by the African Union Commissioner for Peace and Security, His Excellency Ambassador Ramtane Lamamra.  Those who received awards included Ms. Elinor Tatum of the Amsterdam News;

Dr. Kwame Akonor, Director of the African Development Institute; Dr. Muriel Petioni, M.D., known as “Mother of Medicine in Harlem”; Mr. Dabney N. Montgomery, Member of Community Board 10; and  Mr. Seri Remy Gnoleba, Chairman of the African Chamber of Commerce in the U.S.
A special thanks must go to His Excellency Ambassador Tete Antonio, and his hardworking staff at the African Union office in New York, as well as Her Excellency Ambassador Amina Salum Ali of the African Union Embassy in Washington, DC, for assisting the African Union Commission in putting together such a successful African Diaspora meeting.