Special to South Florida Times
POMPANO BEACH — For two investment company experts representing a rural, mineral-rich community in South Africa, it was a chance to tell a story of struggle and success.
For their African-American audience, it was a chance to learn how blacks on both sides of the Atlantic can practice what some business and religious community leaders are calling “spiritual economics.”
The two sides came together Saturday at the Worldwide Christian Center in Pompano Beach to explore ways by which villagers in Africa and entrepreneurs and investors in the United States could form economic partnerships.
“It is important that blacks become a part of the economic growth in Africa,” said Anthony Okonmah, executive director of the Foundation for Democracy in Africa and one of the nearly 100 participants at the three-hour conference.
“So far we have not been able to connect the talent here with the opportunity there but this may be a start,” said Okonmah, who is originally from Nigeria.
In a plan created by Anglican Archbishop Thabo Makgoba of South Africa, blacks in the United States and elsewhere in the African Diaspora could purchase stock in business ventures in South Africa and other African countries.
The archbishop is collaborating with Julius V. Jackson Sr., president of People Helping Each Other, along with the African Business Development Group and other partners.
“At this conference, we are trying to bring people to the table, to make them aware of the tools that can change the economic outcomes of indigenous Africans and the African Diaspora,” Jackson said of the Feb. 18 “Winds of Change Economic Leadership Conference for Indigenous Africans and the Diaspora.”
“It’s time to find our place on the world’s economic stage,” added the program’s moderator, Robert Beatty.
Specifics of investment opportunities were not presented at the conference. Beatty, who is publisher of South Florida Times, said details will be unveiled in June.
“We’re talking [share] prices that would be no more than a trip to McDonald’s,” said the Rev. O’Neal Dozier, pastor of the Worldwide Christian Center, which hosted the conference. “The young man with his pants down to his knees who can’t even afford a belt will be able to buy shares.”
Makgoba, who could not attend the conference, will come to South Florida to launch the U.S. initiative at Dozier’s church on June 19, also known as Juneteenth, the date in 1865 when American slaves in Texas learned that slavery had ended. For various reasons, it took 2½ years for the news of the
Jan. 1 1863, Emancipation Proclamation signed by President Abraham Lincoln to reach Texas.
“The faith community has a role to play in getting indigenous Africans and the Diaspora to a sustainable economic table,” Makgoba said in a video message to the conference.
Two members of the Royal Bafokeng Holdings Company, the primary investment firm of the Royal Bafokeng Nation, were on hand to tell the story of the community located
in the northwest province of South Africa. Through its investments, the company has helped improve the economic outlook of the
Bafokengs, said Mpueleng Pooe, the company’s commercial and legal director.
The community of 150,000 has the world’s largest deposit of platinum, which is largely used in industrial manufacturing. Assets totaling a billion dollars in 2007 have grown to $5 billion this year, Pooe said.
The Royal Bafokeng Nation, now one of the most prosperous areas on the continent, has invested its earnings in building homes, schools and a world-class soccer stadium that attracts high profile events.
“It shows what an individual community with mineral resources has been able to do,” Pooe said, following the conference. The conference, he said, also was to offer an opportunity “to leave people with the message that, if properly done, things are possible and promising.”
Photo: Julius V. Jackson Sr.