Bastille Day 2017

The 14th of July, 1789 was a phenomenal day in the history of France, because the storming of the Bastille prison signified a flash point in the French revolution. This historical day is especially monumental because it signifies to French people the importance and power behind the unified strength of the citizens. The day celebrates “Liberty, Equality and Fraternity” which are the tenets of the republic, hence patriotic pride rather than political history of the day.

Celebrations around the world unite the French people in their shared patriotic passion, in their love for their culture and their history. From Canada, to the Phillippines, French people commemorated the day with their own French traditions.

Boston was not left out of the joyous celebrations of the day, as French people, French speakers and French lovers sauntered the street in front of the French Cultural Center. The day was marked with music, food and networking.

The day was attended by the French Consulate who brought along their families and friends to network and enjoy the significant day with everyone.

Teranga Restaurant, a Senegalese restaurant had a busy stand, bustling with people trying their delicious food for the first time, and with their faithful customers coming back over and over again for more. Teranga Senegalese Restaurant at 1746 Washington Street, Boston, MA 02118 has an array of delectable West African cuisine which excited the tastebuds on a culinary journey of palatable excellence.

Teranga Restaurant at Bastille Day

The restaurant was one of the best patronized of the night, with lines forming almost from the very start of the night’s festivities at 6pm, to deep into the night, being the last stand to still be serving customers warm food.

Wine, cheese, jambon et formage (ham & cheese) sandwiches, the giggles of happy children with Tricolore painted faces, and the hearty laughs of full bellies filled the streets with warmth and the celebration of the festive day.

The sweet smells of fresh warm Belgian waffles wafted and embracing the throngs with mouth-watering goodness.

Other food and drink were presented by Mr. Crepe serving fresh tantalizing crepes. Lavoile a French brasserie located on Newbury Street, Boston and Beacon Street, Brookline. Bastille Kitchen in Boston’s Fort Point district, reminiscent of bistros found along the Parisian streets.

Bar Boulud, a French inspired bistro and wine bar known for its French menu and New England dishes. New England’s own Wilson Farm was also present with farm-fresh cheeses and breads.

The night’s mainstage was headlined by French soul singer-songwriter, Ben l’Oncle Soul, who mesmerized the crowd with his rich soulful voice and got the crowd moving with his smooth sound.

Ben l’Oncle serenading the crowd with his enthralling sound

Prior to Ben l’Oncle taking the stage, the crowd was warmed up by Senegalese Daby Toure. Daby Toure, a singer and songwriter with an amazing sound and a unique global perspective. Living between Montreal and Paris, and being of Senegalese descent, the artist astounds his audiences with a powerful ethereal voice, talented finger work on the strings of a guitar, and captivating stage presence. He engages the crowd in call and response, they to join in, creating finger work on the strings of a guitar, and captivating stage presence. He engages the crowd in call and response, they to join in, creating an electrifying atmosphere.

Daby Toure

Daby Toure had some CDs on sale, where he signed copies for fans, and took pictures with adoring fans who were in love with his sound.

AiB Communications Manager Flossy Azu with Senegalese Artiste Daby Toure


It was a beautiful and cool night filled with warm and experiences to be repeated next year, and AiB was glad to be a part of the momentous day.

Author: Flossy Azu, AiB Communications Manager




AiB meeting with candidate for City Council in Worcester’s 3rd District: Davis Asare

Cambridge, Massachusetts  – Saturday, May 27th 2017

AiB Executives Voury Ignegongba ( left) and Jeff Siaw ( right)  met with Mr. Davis Asare in Cambridge sipping through Rwandan coffee and Caramel macchiato cups.

Mr. Davis Asare is running for City Council in Worcester’s 3rd district. He is a graduate of Bartlett High School in Webster, MA then went on to higher education at the Wentworth Techology where he received his degree in Electrical Engineering with a Minor in Applied Mathematics. Since graduating from college Mr. Asare has opened two companies “A Plus Services” and “Asare Engineering” while currently holding a position at Aircuity as a Consultant. Mr. Asare has also been very active in his community from a young age, volunteering his time at the Boys and Gilrs Club of Webster-Dudley. He has also volunteered with ACE mentoring, Our Bright Future, the Mathcounts Foundations, FC Napoli, and is currently a member of the Citizen Advisory Council for the city of Worcester. Mr. Asare and his high school sweetheart, Stephanie live in Worcester with their two children Aniyah and Ayden.

Proposed ideas focused on forming valuable connections between the African Diaspora communities in Boston and Worcester, supporting businesses and showcasing different events and ventures that the members of both communities are involved in.

Both AiB and Mr. Asare will be participating in the 8th Annual Health Cup (AHC) scheduled to occur on Saturday July 15th 2017 at the Cawley Stadium, 587 Douglas Road in Lowell in Lowell, Massachusetts. The first games will commence promptly at 9am and will continue until 8pm. The event is organized by the Multicultural AIDS Coalition (MAC), a non-profit organization founded in 1989 that aims to mobilize communities of color to end HIV. The African Health Cup, an annual soccer tournament is one of the MAC’s most successful social initiatives in recent years.

At the African Health Cup this year, AiB is partnering with MAC to ensure the success of the event. Through generating public interest, AiB will be present to support the success of the event, and engage with community members, creating buy-in for the impactful work that both organizations are engaged in.

Mr. Asare will also be in attendance, interacting with the community, and backing the admirable agenda of eliminating HIV.

Both Mr. Davis Asare and Africans in Boston are committed to working together in the long term on educational initiatives in Boston, Worcester and their neighboring municipalities, as well exploring new avenues for partnerships.

AiB Executives meet to setup agenda and roadmap for the future of the organization


2017 AiB Executives
Jeff Siaw ( Executive Director) , Voury Ignegongba ( President) ,
Wilson Balinda ( Community Liaison Manager)
Fatmata Jah ( Educational Programs Manager) , Flossy Azu ( Communications Manager) ,
Della Liu ( Marketing and Investment Research Manager)

Boston, Massachusetts –  April 28th 2017
AiB Executives met in April 2017 to setup the agenda and the roadmap for the future of the organization.

Diaspora meeting at Harvard Medical School with A.U. ambassador to U.S., Honorable Arikana Chihombori-Quao

Honorable Arikana Chihombori-Quao, A.U. ambassador to the U.S. and Voury Ignegongba, AiB President

Boston, Massachusetts – Thursday April 27th 2017

The A.U. ambassador to the U.S. Honorable Arikana Chihombori-Quao met with members of the African Diaspora at Harvard Medical School today for a round table discussion to address issues facing Africans in the Diaspora. Some participants were local ( from Boston), others were from out of state ( Texas, Washington, DC) and others were from overseas ( U.K., Cape Verde). A great number of them were physicians. The discussions revolved around engaging the Diaspora here in the US to facilitate development of communities in the United States and in Africa.

Dr. Arikana Chihombori-Quao stated that the AU is committed to working with Diaspora organizations such as Africans in Boston and UPAC and putting together a database. The A.U. is also working on implementing a radio-station that would give an opportunity to African ambassadors to present and highlight their respective countries. Finally, the A.U. is also very committed to ensuring that Diaspora members get considered first when opportunities arise on the Continent. Dr. Arikana believes that the next BIG CHANGE in Africa will take place with the Diaspora as the key player.

Africans in Boston is very encouraged by the visit of Dr. Arikana Chihombori-Quao and is looking forward to exploring avenues to work with the AU.

AiB visit to A.U. mission, World Bank/IMF Annual Spring Meetings and dinner with UPAC members in Washington, DC

Voury Ignegongba and Jeff Siaw

Washington, DC – Wednesday April, 19th 2017

Jeff ( Africans in Boston Executive Director) and Voury Ignegongba ( Africans in Boston President) were in the nation’s capital  on Wednesday April, 19th 2017 to attend a Diaspora gathering with the Chairperson of the AU.  Due to scheduling conflicts, the gathering was cancelled at the last minute.

Jeff and Voury spent the day in Washington DC attending seminars at the World Bank and the IMF as Africans in Boston was invited to the Annual and Springs Meeting ( i.e. Driving Digital Financial Inclusion in Africa with great panelists… ) –…

Later in the evening, Africans in Boston had dinner with UPAC Chairwoman Sade Oshinubi and UPAC Partnership board member John Manirakiza in Georgetown.

Jeff Siaw, Voury Ignegongba, Sade Oshinubi, John Manirakiza

Jeff Siaw joins Africans in Boston as new Executive Director

Jeff Siaw, AiB Executive Director

Boston, Massachusetts – April 23rd 2017

Jeff Siaw joins Africans in Boston as new Executive Director.

Jeff was born and raised in Accra, the capital city of Ghana, and did not move to the United States until his senior year of American high school. As the oldest of three, he has always been in the position of a role model within his family for both his parents and his younger brothers paving the way for how to pursue the “American Dream” leading by example. Working his way up the sales ladder at AT&T was a difficult balance with a full time 15 credit course load at Worcester State University, but the inspiration to continue to learn in the classroom paired with his determination to work through uncertainty kept him motivated and ready to tackle the two jobs. After becoming the first college graduate in his family, he simultaneously worked to become the number one manager for all of AT&T (Spring Mobile authorized retailer) ,also the youngest out of 1600 managers across the country. By most, this job and milestone is it for achieving the American dream. “For me, this is not enough; my path is just beginning and I want to continue to develop my leadership and entrepreneurial skills to be able to affect change in the U.S. and Africa” said Jeff Siaw.

Jeff will lead efforts in getting the next generation involved with the work currently underway at Africans in Boston and will be involved with strategic programs in education.


Notable African Diaspora leader Dr. Sylvester Okere visit to Boston

Saturday, Nov. 14th 2016

The Boston University African Studies Center co-hosted the first ever African Diaspora and Governance Symposium at Boston University last Saturday. The event brought together African diaspora activists from the greater Boston area to discuss the issues of diaspora organizing and networking for effective participation in governance and political life. The Symposium, co-hosted with Africans in Boston, featured Dr. Sylvester Okere, President of the United People for African Congress (UPAC) and the first African immigrant to be appointed to fill Africa ‘ seat at the National Democratic Party, and Attorney Candice McKinley, the Vice-President of UPAC and a civil rights and education attorney.

Dr. Okere stated that the community of African immigrants is one of the most educated, dynamic and diverse communities in the United States: “We have the people, talents, skills,experience, values and unique culture that distinguish us. Let’s come together and changethe narratives that have been dragging us down. In order for the ethnic African community in the United States to become relevant and be fully integrated into the American political system, we must first be organized.” Dr. Okere called for ethnic Africans in the U.S. to overcome the scars of colonialism, discrimination, and marginalization, and work towards creating solidarity to transform the local immigrant communities as well as those of the African motherland.

Attorney Candice McKinley, an African American attorney, political strategist and gender activist, urged African immigrants to understand their heritage, and to be selfless,purposeful, and intentional in their struggle to unite the diaspora to achieve their dreams. ” I come from down South where we had the same issues of mistrust among different African American groups from different regions, but we managed to overcome these and now speak with one voice” said the young mother and former teacher who spent time in Tanzania working for women empowerment and Rwanda genocide cases.

The ethnic African organization UPAC is a non-segmented body committed to mobilizing the estimated 3 million African immigrants in the United States for empowered participation in the social and political lives of the communities in the U.S. as well as for the development of their motherland. The organization serves all ethnic Africans in the diaspora. Recent initiatives include the struggle to involve African immigrants in relevant high level policy discussions, such as the African Growth and Opportunity Act, as well as engaging their active participation in the 2016 presidential elections.

Mr. Voury Ignegongba, President of Africans in Boston and convener of the event, said that he was overjoyed by dozens of African immigrants from different African countries living inBoston who attended the Symposium, demonstrating that Africans have the desire to put their differences aside and unify for a common cause while far from their homelands. Africans in Boston is an organization that fosters the socio-economic and educational development of its members by offering a platform that connects the African Diaspora in the greater Boston area and in the state of Massachusetts.

“It is very refreshing and encouraging to see a group of African immigrants come together here today in search of better lives,” remarked Harrison Maina from Kenya (Boston University Metropolitan College). “Since UPAC has taken the lead to organize the highly disjointed and scattered African communities in the Diaspora, it is up to us to join in and render our talents and skills. Let all African community organizations that are genuine about their intent to make Africans more united and respected now consider joining UPAC.” These calls were echoed by several other participants of the Symposium. The attendees included Geoffrey Nsereko of Radio Uganda Boston, Pastor Isaac Balinda of Uganda, Rev. Christine Nakyeyune of the Ugandan Anglican church in Waltham, Chioma Nnaji of Africans for Improved Access, and Dorothy Sebbaka of Women of Purpose International.

“In the present era of ever-growing migration and mobility, diaspora contributions to the development of their countries of origin are crucial,” said Dr. Daivi Rodima-Taylor of BU ASC Diaspora Studies Initiative. “We are proud to contribute to creating a forum for local African diaspora communities to discuss strategies for productive diaspora engagement and empowerment.”

Diaspora Studies Initiative Holds Workshop On Networking And Fundraising held at Boston University on December 13th 2017

Tuesday, December 13th 2016

Forging Meaningful Connections: Diaspora Studies Initiative Holds Workshop On Networking And Fundraising

Networking and fundraising issues were discussed at the BU African Studies Center on December 7, 2016. The Diaspora Studies Initiative (DSI) of the BU ASC held a workshop “Networking, Fundraising and Philanthropy: How to Build Meaningful Relationships for You and Your Organization” that was attended by members of the BU community and DSI diaspora partners. The presenter, Dr. Martin Russell (DiasporaMatters, Ireland), is a scholar and speaker with global expertise on networking and fundraising strategies. The workshop was introduced by the Consul General of Ireland, Ms. Fionnuala Quinlan, who highlighted the importance of seeking creative and innovative solutions for facilitating connections in the current era of growing global mobility. Participants were also welcomed by Associate Vice President for Development of Boston University Stephen Witkowski, Director of the ASC Prof. Timothy Longman, and Dr. Daivi Rodima-Taylor of the DSI, the organizer of the workshop.

The discussions explored the skills and ideas for building and managing professional networks, developing meaningful relationships, and using networking skills for effective fundraising. “I met interesting people engaged in community building and fundraising, and I learned a lot in the process,” said Elizabeth Amrien, Assistant Director of the BU Center for the Study of Europe. “I appreciated very much the discussion of networking as a skill and the introduction to the concept of ‘smart power.’” “The international, inter-ethnic, and interracial composition of the group, the choice of speakers, and the openly collaborative content and tone of the conversations were definite assets to this innovative workshop,” remarked Prof. Parker Shipton of BU ASC and Anthropology.

The event provided an opportunity for DSI diaspora partners from several nations of Africa and Europe to share their experience in building connections and mobilizing resources. “The workshop was an excellent introduction to networking and fundraising for diaspora organizations with very practical and useful advice and tools which any organization can use to enhance its fundraising,” said Mark Kosmo, Chair of the Massachusetts Albanian American Society. He added that the event was attended by a cross-section of diverse diaspora and migrant organizations and provided useful insights to learn from the experience of others.

There is a growing global recognition that diaspora can be an important agent in development of both the countries of origin as well as destination. “The concept of diaspora is about self-identification and intentionality – the intentionality to forge and maintain certain types of connectedness,” said Rodima-Taylor. “The growing interest in the subject of diaspora is fascinating,” remarked Dalitso D. Mwanza, President of the Zambian Association of New England. “This engaging workshop helped me understand the essential networking and fundraising skills that are vital to community development.” Similar opinions were voiced by other local African diaspora leaders. “The African Union considers the African diaspora to be the 6th region of the continent. When it comes to remittances, tourism promotion, education and economic development, the diaspora matters,” said Voury Ignegongba, President of Africans in Boston. “We were very much delighted to be part of the interactive workshop on diaspora and community building that took place today at Boston University. As we continue setting up a regional and national platform for Africans in the diaspora, we are encouraged and reminded of the importance of our work.”

Workshop participants also discussed the meaning of belonging to the diaspora, and the commitments and expectations entailed in that concept. Dr. Dhimitri Skende stated that Albanians have a long history of migration and have retained some type of connection or sense of affiliation with their country of origin. In recent years, however, the diaspora-homeland relationship has shifted, partly in connection with the ‘new wave’ of Albanian migrants of the 1990s post-socialist transition. Skende suggested that to understand the new realities, more discussions, research and engagement is needed to examine the myriad ways in which the country impacts, and is impacted by the diaspora. Reflecting on the history and integration of the Albanian migrants in the United States, Franklin Zdruli pointed out that vibrant cultural gatherings, church activities, and social involvement of the Albanian migrants help them forget the times spent in total isolation and hardship during the communist regime. The biannual Albanian Festival that he co-organizes at St. Mary’s Church in Worcester draws thousands of participants from all over the U.S., including people of diverse heritage. Activities such as this oldest and largest Albanian festival in the country help build cohesion among the diaspora, while also enacting a positive change in the host community. “The Albanians in the diaspora are often described as the best ambassadors Albania can have, as they strive to keep their best values while gaining the best from the society where they live,” said Zdruli. “Our migrants proudly proclaim their love for America, while keeping alive their heritage and vibrant traditions.”

The central role of cultural and social activities in diaspora engagement was also highlighted at the Roundtable gathering at the Consulate of Ireland on October 17. The forum was convened by the BU Diaspora Studies Initiative and the Consulate of Ireland, and attended by a number of Irish American diaspora organizations and actors. The discussions revealed the important role of cultural activities in consolidating diaspora networks and stimulating engagement – including language classes, folk dance sessions, concerts and performances. Such joint activities would often function as a catalyst for diaspora engagement, effectively reaching those more vulnerable and marginal. Providing help to other diasporas in need can also consolidate the diaspora community – examples were drawn from joint projects with African diaspora members. Generational differences in diaspora engagement were highlighted, including the disconnect between more established diaspora members and the newly arrived. The Irish American diaspora organizations discussed effective strategies for engaging diverse diaspora groups and the importance of keeping alive ties with home communitiesthrough cultural and educational exchange.

The Irish diaspora is one of the largest in the New England area and could be seen as a success story in engaging its members through a variety of cultural, social, and economic activities and networks. “Diaspora’s role in fostering the peace process in Ireland in the 1990s should not be underestimated,” said Prof. John Harris of Boston University. “This is an unusually longstanding and successful diaspora, comprising 5-6 generations of Irish Americans.” A long-time leader of the oldest Irish organization in North America, the Charitable Irish Society, Prof. Emerita Catherine Shannon highlighted the historically central role of civil society organizations in supporting the Irish diaspora in New England and facilitating diaspora contributions to the development of the communities in Ireland. She pointed out that civil society engagement can significantly impact the peace process and post-conflict reconstruction. Diaspora organizations can contribute to these processes by providing neutral venues and common activities for mediating and resolving painful memories and contentious issues.

These forums were part of the ongoing activities of the BU ASC Diaspora Studies Initiative on studying and facilitating diaspora engagement in post-conflict and forced migration contexts. The December 7 workshop was co-sponsored by BU ASC, BU Research, Center for the Study of Europe, and African American Studies.