On Sept. 22, I attended, as one of the representatives of the NAACP, an historical event at the Schomburg Center of Research in Black Culture in Harlem, hosted by President Abdoulaye Wade of Senegal, who was in New York to address the United Nations. The occasion was a reception designed to strengthen ties between Africa and the Diaspora as part of the African Renaissance and the goal of Pan Africanism. It followed on the efforts made in the inauguration of the African Renaissance Monument, which I attended as a member of the NAACP delegation, and the World Festival of Black Arts and Culture, held in Senegal last year.
Dr. Djibril Diallo, senior advisor at UNAIDs — the Joint United Nations Program on HIV/AIDS — who also serves as coordinator for the U.S. African Renaissance and Diaspora Network, organized the reception, where the importance of a united effort on AIDs was stressed.
President Wade was eloquent in his discourse on the African Renaissance, the ties to the Diaspora and the importance of a Pan African goal. Numerous senior African ministers were present and the new president of Cote d'Ivoire (Ivory Coast), Alassane Ouattara and Dr. Jean Ping, chairman of the Africa Union, were among the speakers.
The African Union has recognized a sixth region for the Diaspora in its organization and will host a Diaspora meeting in South Africa in 2012. Included among the U.S. speakers at the reception were the Rev. Jesse Jackson and Dr. Julius Garvey, physician son of Marcus Garvey, who is carrying on his father's legacy of support for a United States of Africa. Concrete results from President Wade's initiative were the reports of Dr. Lezli Baskerville, president of the National Association for Equal Opportunity in Higher Education (NAFEO), on the group’s visit to Senegal and the signing of cooperative agreements with Senegalese universities, and Mayor Robert L. Bowser, president of the Black Mayors Association, on their visit, and the signing of twinning agreements.
Mayors Shirley Gibson of Miami-Gardens and Andre Pierre of North Miami and President Henry Lewis III of Florida Memorial University were on the delegations to Senegal.
Ron Himes, founder and director of the St. Louis Black Repertory Company, reported on cooperation with the National Theater of Senegal and efforts to establish links between Diaspora theaters and those in Africa.
John Yearwood, world editor of The Miami Herald and of the National Association of Black Journalists and Clovis Campbell, chairman of the National Newspaper Publishers Association, are organizing their members to visit three African countries this fall, ending in Senegal at a meeting of the World Conference of Black Mayors.
About 25 groups are now part of this network, including the NACCP, which has a long history of supporting Pan Africanism, going back to W.E.B. DuBois, who organized the first Pan African Congress in 1919. President Wade will be reporting on these efforts at the January 2012 African Union meeting.
The stronger the connections between Africa and the U.S., the greater the possibilities for advancement both on the continent of Africa and every place the Diaspora is throughout the world.
Brad Brown is first vice president of the Miami-Dade NAACP. He is a retired National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration scientist. He continues to work as a consultant on African coastal and marine projects and scientific capacity development. He may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
Photo: Brad Brown