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Outspoken former AU official responds to ‘smear campaign’

By Jehron Muhammad | Last updated: Dec 10, 2019 - 11:36:19 AM

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I interacted with and listened intensively to the former African Union permanent ambassador to the United States, Dr. Arikana Chihombori-Quao, during her recent visit to Philadelphia. I also helped organize her visit.

Arikana Chihombori-Quao former AU ambassador with Michael Z. Muhammad (left) and Jehron Muhammad (right) during Black Press interview.

As she spoke, Nation of Islam leader Minister Louis Farrakhan and his past work in Africa came to mind. I believe that with Chihombori-Quao we are witnessing the rebirth of the Minister’s African vision, which includes the work of the late Rev. Dr. Leon Sullivan and his African-African American Summits.

During the 1993 African-African American Summit in Gabon, East Africa, Minister Farrakhan spoke to 19 African heads of state, and to Black leaders, including Rev. Jesse Jackson, Coretta Scott King, Dick Gregory and Dr. Dorothy Height, about the importance of being “aware of the time” and what must be done.

“If we are leading people and we are unaware of the time and what the time demands, then our leadership and those who follow our leadership will suffer loss. What time is it, dear leaders? It is time for us to lead our people in accord with the time. Time demands that those of us who have been enslaved be free; time demands that those of us who yesterday suffered under colonial rule must come out from under colonial power. Time demands that neo-colonialism must never be allowed to be substituted for an old form of colonialism which allows a Black face to administrate over the same old plantation system of our former colonial masters,” Minister Farrakhan said.

In this era of U.S. President Trump and his failed foreign policy, Dr. Chihombori- Quao’s informative speeches about the economic enslavement of Africa and candid speeches about the true enemy of Africa and the African Diaspora bring the struggle full circle.

Minister Farrakhan being vilified for his fearlessness in the face of overwhelming odds has become an indicator of his authentic leadership.

The vilification of Dr. Chihombori- Quao by African Union Commission Chairperson Moussa Faki Mahamat seems to indicate the same thing.

She was appointed in 2016 under the tenure of then AU Commission Chairperson Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, who chose not to run for a second term while vying for South Africa’s presidency. The ambassador’s removal, however, coincided with a very active public lecture schedule where she called for the unity of the African Diaspora and offered very detailed, eye opening explanations of continued European and French exploitation of Africa’s mineral resources. Her special emphasis on France exposed the annual $500 billion the former colonizer takes out of so-called Francophone countries. Many believe it also angered the French president and led to her removal.

Why just focus on the annual $50 billion in corruption by African leaders when France alone annually exploits Africa for $500 billion?, asked the ambassador during her Dec. 2-3 visit to Philadelphia.

(L) Arikana Chihombori-Quao is presented with replica of the Liberty Bell by City Councilwoman JannieBlackwell during Philadelphia visit. (R) Arikana Chihombori-Quao is welcomed during her recent visit to Philadelphia.

The stigmatizing of Africa as a corrupt and war torn continent is used as a smokescreen to hide the trillions of dollars in mineral and natural resources taken out of the continent by European and U.S. powers, she added.

The AU has claimed the fired ambassador, whose last day in office was Oct. 31, violated rules and regulations by making unilateral diplomatic appointments to several people “unknown to the African Union.” The AU claims it forced her to revoke the appointments before she left her post.

An auditing team sent to the U.S. also claims the ambassador collected funds in the name of the AU “but neither remitted the money to the accounts of the bloc nor spent it on approved projects.” It accused her of receiving a donation of $10,000 from U.S. oil giant Chevron.

During a session with members of the Black Press, the former ambassador responded to what she called a “smear campaign.”

“Of interest is the fact that the Transition Team was sent to the AU Mission in Washington two weeks after I received my termination of contract letter. I answered all their questions and provided the requested supporting documents. At the end of their visit, they gave me a clearance form which was signed by myself as well as some of the Transition Team members. The clearance form specifically indicated there were NO pending issues. The Transition Team left the AU Mission in Washington D.C., on a good note on October 25, 2019,” she said.

Five days after the Transition Team departed she said she received a communique being circulated on social media “accusing her of misdoings” while AU ambassador.

“All of the issues had already been discussed and appropriate explanations and clarifications given. Ms. Ebba Kalondo, the spokesperson for the AU chairperson, was present in all our discussions and privy to the information discussed and shared,” Dr. Chihombori- Quao said.

In hindsight, the ambassador believes the Transition Team’s purpose was to “find a reason” to justify termination of her contract. “If the team thought they had found anything credible, why was it not indicated on the clearance form? The form clearly stated there were no outstanding issues,” she said.

The LA Sentinel reported that a spokesperson for French President Emmanuel Macron declined to say whether or not Macron either ordered or played a role in the termination of Ambassador Chihombori-Quao. Many of her supporters remain “adamant” that the French government played a role in her removal.

At press time Ms. Kalondo, spokesperson for the AU chair, had not responded to a request for an interview.

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