2018 African Diaspora Retreat in Baltimore, MD

H.E. Ambassador Arikana Chihombori-Quao and Christian Bisimwa – President, Diaspora credit Union 2020 at the African Diaspora Retreat Meeting, held at the Hyatt Regency Inner Harbor in Baltimore, December 20, 2018.

This year’s African Diaspora Retreat Meeting took place on December 20, at the Hyatt Regency Inner Harbor in Baltimore. The African Union Representational Mission to the United States of America, Washington, D.C., and it’s Permanent Representative, H.E. Ambassador Arikana Chihombori-Quao hosted the meeting. Members of the African Diaspora resident in the Americas (United States, Canada, The Caribbean, Southern America, and Central America); government officials; Brussels, Geneva, and New York office representatives, High profile African groups, and Industrial Bank Officials attended. AIB President Voury Ignegongba was among those who participated as a presenter at the event where he show-cased the Africans in Boston initiatives.

This meeting covered an overview of the African Union position.  The ambassador raised an awareness to important African issues such as those faced in the AU’s development concept. She recounted the political history of Africa, as well as the recent transformational developments. Colonial Africa, and the method used to divide the continent was one of the major topics. Participants discussed the Berlin conference of 1885 faulting it as a design “to divide and conquer Africa”.  They discussed the 1964 Pan African Leaders’ summit which had as objectives, to stop the onslaught, and to try to reverse the damage inflicted by the Berlin Conference. This initiative saw the creation of The Organization of African Unity (OAU), which became the African Union (AU), in 2002. The leaders at the (1964) summit declared all people of African descent and living outside Africa the African Diaspora (in the 6th Region).  The African heads of state meet twice a year to discuss African Issues.

At the meeting H.E. Ambassador Arikana Chihombori-Quao discussed the African leader’s aspirations of a stronger African continent; calling on all people of African descent in the diaspora to “come back home” and participate in the rebuilding of Africa. The African Diaspora are described as “All people of African descent living outside Africa, descendants of those who left Africa in shackles as well as those who left in search of greener pastures”

One presenter reminded the participants of Kwame Nkrumah’s powerful words that “I am not African because I was born in Africa but because Africa was born in me.”.

An overview of the Mandate of African Union Mission to the USA was another item on the agenda with the focus on the Diaspora. This mandate seeks to mobilize the African diaspora in the Americas to participate in the development of Africa. Faced by the known challenges such as how to reverse the brain drain, the African Union Mission in Washington has a plan to empower the diaspora and pave the way for them to return home to effectively participate in the building of Africa.

The program included remarks by the EU Brussels Office presented by Philip Jusu,

AU Geneva Office by Yakdhan El Habib and AU New York Office by Mirriam Omala. They all stressed the need to globalize Africa, pointing out that regardless of how we arrived in the diaspora we are all in the same boat. During this session, a moment of silence was observed to commemorate the loss of Africa’s son, Kofi Annan, an African world leader for his iconic contribution not only to African, but to human progress in general. Tribute was also paid to Winnie Mandela, a symbol of inspiration and strength for all women.

A Presentation and Review Wakanda was also on the agenda. The introduction of the Wakanda One Centers of Excellence in Africa unveiled a new program that includes building African Centers of Excellence. Dr. Arikana Chihombori-Quao, in her presentation, explained that these centers are to be in each region to serve as growth centers of that region, eventually spreading growth to the rest of the region. For more on the organization of the project please go to https://www.herald.co.zw/govt-offers-au-land/

A very important process followed this where Mr. Dexter Cummings, assistant to the ambassador presided over the review, and eventual approval, of the African Diaspora Americas Constitutional Act. The vote was anonymous. A successful networking luncheon then followed. The participants were able to share and digest Africa’s reality even as they forged personal connections with other diaspora members.

To execute the plans ahead, the meeting included the appointment of the African Diaspora Working Board, as well as the appointment of Regional and Sub Regional Representatives.  The Americas were divided into 12 regions; 8 regions in the US, plus Canada, Caribbean, South America and Central America, each region with its own board. Christian Bisimwa of Maine is our (Region 1) chair.  Region one includes Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island and Vermont.

Another presentation to highlight was one titled, “Introduction to the Industrial Savings Bank”. Mr. Roy Ewing, its current president, launched this initiative. The African Diaspora Savings and Investment Account will be the Wakanda one Investment and savings account. Her Excellency ably convinced those present with the idea that it is only the diaspora that can change Africa. She called upon the 55 million diaspora residents to open individual accounts at the Industrial bank.

In addition, the meeting consisted of committee appointments. Mr Cummings oversaw the appointment of the African Diaspora Financial Advisory Board. This included the Finance and Investment, Steering, and Media committees.

The African Diaspora Retreat Meeting ended with a dinner and dance held at the Hyatt Regency Inner Harbor in Baltimore, Maryland.  Over 250 members of the African Diaspora, attended this event, including Lukwesa Morin, the reigning Miss Zambia Diaspora; the new queen representing the Africa Union; the 1st runner-up, Natasha Mupenzi from Uganda, and Rama Dioum, Guinea who had clinched third place.

While closing, H.E. Ambassador Arikana Chihombori-Quao once again thanked those present, and, for the benefit of those not present earlier, added a brief explanation on Financing Wakanda, pointing to the possibilities ahead. She ended with a chorus, “Children of Africa we are going Home”. The unifying idea around this event and celebrating the accomplishments of the African Diaspora left no doubt that the children of Africa are on the same page.  Let us join hands in building #TheAfricaWeWant.

One Africa!!

One Continent!!

One Voice!!

Voury Ignegongba – President, Africans in Boston, and Diaspora Credit Union officers Christian Bisimwa Ethel Kawesa at the African Diaspora Retreat Meeting, held at the Hyatt Regency Inner Harbor in Baltimore, December 20, 2018.