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Former African Union Ambassador visits Philly

By Michael Z. Muhammad -Contributing Writer- | Last updated: Dec 10, 2019 - 11:36:12 AM

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Dr. Chihombori-Quao calls for massive economic development in the Motherland

“When I am dead, wrap the mantle of the Red, the Black and the Green around me for in a new Life I shall Rise Up with God’s grace and blessings to lead the millions to the heights of triumph that you well know. Look for me in the whirlwind or the storm, look for me all around you, for, with God’s grace, I shall come and bring with me countless millions of Black slaves who have died in America and the West Indies and the millions in Africa to aid you in the fight for Liberty, Freedom, and Life.”  —Marcus Mosiah Garvey

PHILADELPHIA—For two days, that whirlwind hovered over the City of Brotherly Love. Her name is Arikana Chihombori-Quao, former permanent ambassador of the African Union to the United States.

(L) Melody Muhammad and Arlene Muhammad of Muhammad Mosque No. 12 present a bouquet of roses to Dr. Chihombori-Quao at city hall. (R) Dr. Tahiyah Nyahuma of Global Africans gives introduction at the Community College of Philadelphia. The group sponsored a program held Dec. 2-3 featuring Dr. Arikana Chihombori-Quao, former Permanent Ambassador of the African Union to the United States.

Her message was remarkable and well received. Before a packed audience of students, scholars, and the public, Dr. Chihombori-Quao called for a new “Wakanda” project that she says will raise $5 billion in development funding for the continent over the next year or so. “The Wakanda One Village Project,”—named after the high tech, ultra-modern fictional African country from the Marvel comic and movie “Black Panther”— will be funded by Africans throughout the Diaspora who will be its sole owners, she detailed.

“It (the project) will consist of five African Centers of Excellence in each of the five regions of the continent. They will serve as nerve centers for development, while delivering state-of-the-art health care facilities, hotels, modern homes, shopping centers, and other infrastructure,” said Dr. Chihombori-Quao.

Sponsored by Global Africans, a local organization, Dr. Chihombori-Quao, a medical doctor by profession, appeared Dec. 2 at the Community College of Philadelphia with a reception following at City Hall. She sat down with members of the Black press at the Lincoln University extension campus in West Philadelphia Dec. 3 before departing home to Washington, D.C.

“We are going to build the Africa that we want,” Dr. Chihombori-Quao said. She told The Final Call she expects the first phase to be built in Zimbabwe and Zambia. “The two countries have offered 2,000 and 132 hectares (5,268 acres) of land respectively (around the Victoria Falls area, which borders the two countries,” she said.

Africans must be at the forefront of the development of the African continent and who better positioned educationally, economically, and spiritually than those who reside in the Diaspora? she explained.

“If Africa is to be on a winning path, she needs to speak as one voice and one continent. The division among countries must come to an end,” said Dr. Chihombori-Quao.

For her, the primary challenge is to bridge the gap between native Africans residing in the 6th region (the Diaspora was constituted as the sixth region in 2003 to encourage the participation of people of African origin living outside the continent) and those who are the descendants of kidnapped Black Africans who were forced into slavery.

Both peoples have been adversely affected from colonialism and slavery, she opined.

She called for the establishment of an “African Development Diaspora Initiative” and the creation of an African Diaspora Investment Fund and Database. The fund will allow descendants of the African Diaspora to donate and “own a piece of their Africa.”

Dr. Chihombori-Quao opened her lecture with a compelling history lesson detailing the reason for Africa’s current underdevelopment. She pointed to the legacy of European colonization as the reason while calling forcefully for economic liberation.

“When the Europeans first arrived in Africa 700 years ago, they found powerful Kingdoms,” she stated. “These Kingdoms had a rich education, health, and spiritual systems. Greek scholars went to Africa for training. Before the Greeks, the Romans did the same thing,” she explained.

“The destruction in earnest started with the Berlin Conference held 134 years ago when European powers of the day obscenely explored, divided, conquered, and exploited the entire African continent. Known as ‘The Congo Conference,’ 13 European countries and the United States met in Berlin in 1884 and carved Africa into 53 separate nations,” she said.

Initially, Europeans were haphazardly going into Africa to grab whatever they could and through organization, looted resources and people, continued Dr. Chihombori-Quao.

“That strategy is still in place, 75 percent of African resources traded on the European stock exchange, divide and conquer, unabated with nobody challenging it. It’s just accepted.”

Dr. Chihombori-Quao stated it’s estimated that $50 billion leaves Africa each year because of corruption. However, she noted, France still extracts a colonial tax of $500 billion annually from francophone African countries while even controlling their monetary system.

“If we talk about corruption, we need to talk about it from A to Z. Let’s talk about all of this,” she said. “The former colonizers are still very active in Africa. You can look at Britain, France, Spain, Belgium, Germany they are still very present in Africa, yet we don’t talk about it. The Berlin conference is alive and well.”

The no-nonsense, unapologetic former ambassador declared to her audience that Black people from around the globe are the inheritors of the richest continent on the earth. Africa has never needed the world, but the world needs Africa, she observed. “Black people must engage in a new era of economic empowerment. A strong, prosperous Africa equates to the respect of their children around the globe.”

Africans throughout the Diaspora must develop trust with one another, she continued. “I have made the commitment to trust the Diaspora completely. I am counting on you to do the same. We are the most beautiful, hardworking people I know,” the elegant diplomat concluded. “We must stand on the tallest mountain and proclaim who we are, the proud, beautiful, intelligent, sophisticated, highly adaptable, and totally indestructible children of mother Africa. Let’s go home.”

Supporters of Dr. Chihombori-Quao argue that it is this uncompromising stand that caused her to lose her ambassadorship in October. She was removed to please European powers, France in particular, because of her outspoken stance on continued neo-colonial control of Africa by European powers, they argue. She had served more than three years.

“I learned so much about Africa that I didn’t know. I now have a lot of research to do,” Amir Rose, a business major at the Community College of Phildelphia, told The Final Call. Mr. Rose said he was thoroughly impressed with Dr. Chihombori-Quao’s presentation.

Katiama Lewis, also a student at the college studying biology, called what she heard an “eye-opener.” “History wise I got a lot of insight into what is going on in Africa. It’s all new to me. She opened my eyes to what is not only going on in Africa but the United States as well.”

“This sister was right on point,” Ali Salahuddin of the African Genesis Program told The Final Call. “Everything she said is exactly what we should be doing. The one thing that we have done is to choose a location where we want to make our impact. Africa is a gigantic continent. So, echoing the ambassador’s sentiments, you have to be specific about what it is you want to do and where you want to do it. We have chosen Elmina, Ghana, to build and to make our impact. So, pick a place and go to work,” he said.