By Kim Dankoor
The African Union is a continental physique that consists of all of the 55 African nations, and its mission could be described as overcoming the biggest weapon that colonial powers have used towards Black individuals: the strategy of divide and conquer. The AU’s ambassador to the United States and the Caribbean, Dr. Arikana Chihombori-Quao, states that folks of African descent have develop into the most disrespected individuals on earth because their voices are lacking in action and there is a deficit of cooperation and trust among this group. She additional says that other ethnic groups stick together like super-glue. “To gain respect we have to come together and speak with one voice. Are you really willing to leave this world the way it is for your grandchildren?” she asks the African diaspora.
Before her appointment as AU ambassador, the Zimbabwe native, who immigrated to the United States in 1977, was a family drugs physician in Murfreesboro, Tennessee, and together with her fellow physician husband based a sequence of medical clinics in the area.
One of Chihombori-Quao’s mandates is to improve diplomatic ties with the U.S. and the Caribbean — although the AU maintains full intergovernmental organization diplomatic status with United States — but the mission she really is enthusiastic about is mobilizing Black individuals and telling those that live outdoors of Africa that the continent is their house too. Watching one of her African-American associates break down crying and explain to her that not understanding where she comes from is an everyday wrestle compelled Chihombori-Quao much more to spread the phrase of unity and “diaspora returns.”
During the first-ever AU city corridor in Atlanta, the AU ambassador, together with several leaders of African diaspora organizations, politicians, journalists and educators, discussed how the individuals from the African diaspora can come collectively. The city corridor assembly, titled “400 Years: Breaking through the arrested development in AFRICAN-African Diaspora Relations” passed off on April 23, 2019, in the Atlanta College Middle Robert W. Woodruff Library. The attendees, most of them wearing the lovely colours of Africa, have been excited to speak with the AU ambassador about Africa-related tasks, and several business connections have been remodeled meals and conversations. With the steerage of moderator Kwabena Boateng and host Amirah Ansaar, the groundwork of a diaspora homecoming was additional textured that evening.
Earlier than the begin of the AU city hall, Dr. Chihombori-Quao spoke with Atlanta Black Star about the state of Africa, AU’s initiatives to further develop the continent, constructing Wakandas, international relations and African descendants “taking the wheel.” Having constructed several medical clinics, an Africa House, and a cultural heritage lodge, Dr. Chihombori-Quao’s evident entrepreneurial DNA will accelerate the AU’s objectives to (re)unite Black individuals.
Africa, get up!
In accordance with Chihombori-Quao, the continent of Africa was awake, put to sleep by colonizers, and now has to wake up again and go back to its greatness. She elaborates on the position the West performed in blocking Africa’s improvement: “The seed of divide and conquer was sowed during the Berlin Conference, which was held from November 1884 to February 1885. The participating Western nations knew that if they chopped Africa into different countries, those small economies could never survive on their own and would be easy to destabilize. To put this in perspective for you, if this world was a boxing game would you put Lesotho, Gambia, Burundi or Congo in the same boxing ring as China?” the AU ambassador requested with a chuckle.
“Well, this is exactly what is happening nowadays. These small African countries have the same sovereignty as the big nations. So when it comes to trading and negotiating, these itty-bitty African countries are meant to go against ‘big boys,’ so we are getting killed, there is no parity there. The game is over before it even begins. The Berlin Conference was designated to see to it that Africa and all its children will forever be defeated and dominated.”
So how is the AU planning to “wake up” the African continent? An necessary initiative was taken in 2018. The AU brokered the African Continental Free Trade Space (AfCFTA) deal, which was then signed by 44 of the 55 African Union nations. “With this deal African countries can come together and become one negotiating power, just like the US and Europe. One Africa, one voice, one continent”, the AU ambassador says.
A brand new dawn: The AfCFTA deal and the AU passport
The AU ambassador explains how it will have big constructive economic implications for continental Africans: “Without the deal it is easier for small African countries to change their own currency into dollars, pounds or euros instead of changing it into a small currency from another tiny African country. Thus, a manufacturer or distributor of tiles in Egypt has to send its tiles to Italy, only for Africans to buy them at 20 to 30 times the cost to come back to Africa. Intra-African trade will drop prices on goods significantly.” Africa’s intra-continental commerce made up 18 % of complete exports, while nations in Europe and Asia are at 69 % and 59 %, respectively.
“For the AfCFTA deal to succeed Africans need to be able to move freely around the continent”, Chihombori-Quao says. Subsequently, the African Union passport is of excessive priority for the AU as nicely. Individuals with this passport are exempt from having to acquire any visa for all 55 states in Africa. “Right now, they are working on who will get it first. The AU passport is already available for some heads of states, ambassadors and approved business people. I am on a mission to make sure that African locals, who want to contribute to the greatness of Africa, and help build several Wakandas, will get the AU passport as well,” the ambassador stated.
A new thief in town? The case of exterior donations
In 20 years, China has turn into Africa’s most necessary economic associate. Across trade, funding, infrastructure financing, and help, no different country has such depth and breadth of engagement in Africa. However the Africa-China business relationship shouldn’t be brief on critics: Chinese language locals marvel why their nation spends billions on Africa whereas some of them are struggling to buy medicines or get an honest schooling; the West warns that African nations could possibly be sinking into unsustainable debt, like the debts to Western and multilateral lenders in previous many years that many African nations still bear; and citizens in Africa have complained that staff usually are not treated fairly by their Chinese language employers. Some Western analysts and teachers have even gone so far as contending that China has grow to be the new face of colonialism on the African continent.
When the AU ambassador was asked about Western and Asian nations’ historical past of donating to Africa, she replied with: “They [the West] are quick in telling us to watch out for China, but let me keep it simple and real. You have the former colonizers who are stealing from Africa for centuries. Now there is a new thief in town. You want the old thief to warn me about the new thief?”
And though the AU ambassador states that Africans have to cope with their very own issues, she doesn’t totally dismiss China’s help and funding. “China might not have treated us nicely initially because it was going into these little African nations individually, but now, China is funding railroads, and is coaching hundreds of Africans.“
She further explains: “During the last meeting between African heads of states and the Chinese president, the African leaders said that they want to work with China, but only when it treats Africa fairly. China is now adjusting and changing. The former colonizers are not changing. They will talk about a railroad for 20 years, but you will never see it, and when they do build one, it is just to benefit their causes. They were never there for the people. Their whole purpose is to under-develop Africa and keep it in a turmoil; that is the difference between China and some countries in the West.”
As of now, Europe is increasingly emulating China’s strategy to Africa, focusing on commerce, and on partnerships, not conflicts and charity. The European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker has proposed a brand new alliance with Africa to deepen economic relations and increase funding and jobs, BBC reported.
African descendants from all over the world can take the driver’s seat
Chihombori-Quao came to Atlanta to strengthen the bonds between continental Africans and individuals from the African diaspora. Likelihood is possible that the majority town hall attendees already care about unifying the voices of Black individuals and have a comparatively constructive outlook on Africa. So, how will the AU ambassador reach African descendants who aren’t preoccupied with their “African ties” and view the continent as a corrupt state of affairs?
“It is important to tell those people that they shouldn’t believe what people have told them about Africa. Africa is the richest continent on earth, and the West only perpetuates the lie of ‘a poor and a corrupt Africa’ to keep us divided,” Chihombori-Quao says.
She continues by saying: “Black people outside Africa, particular descendants of slaves, are really lost because they don’t know where they come from. Last February, the African heads of states unanimously approved the decision to officially let the descendants of former African slaves, from all over the world, know that Africa is their home. They want people from the African diaspora to know that they, too, can take the driver’s seat when it comes to development and all projects African.”
Ghana has already taken the lead in welcoming African descendants with open arms. The country has declared 2019 as the Yr of Return. Throughout this yearlong occasion, Black individuals around the globe will reunite and their resilience and extraordinary achievements might be celebrated.