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Former African Union ambassador to speak in Philadelphia

By Jehron Muhammad | Last updated: Dec 2, 2019 - 1:16:01 PM

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Ambassador Arikana Chihombori-Quao, who was wrongfully dismissed by the African Union without cause in October and who has been touring the length and breadth of the U.S. shedding much light on France and other European powers continued colonial practices on the continent of Africa, will make her first public appearance in Philadelphia.

According to organizers, which includes The Final Call, Dr. Chihombori-Quao will speak on Dec. 2, 2019 at 2:30 pm EDT at Community College of Philadelphia, 17th & Spring Garden in the Winnet Student Life Building, Room S2.12A. At 6 p.m. a reception in her honor will follow in Philadelphia City Hall Caucus Room at 1401 John F. Kennedy Blvd. Both events are free and open to the public.

Ambassador Arikana Chihombori-Quao
Dr. Mujahid Nyahuma, a professor at the Community College of Philadelphia and event organizers, asked attendees to come ready to ask questions. Though Ambassador Chihombori-Quao may have in the past spent much of her time as AU ambassador organizing Africans living in the U.S., he feels Black Americans, with their history of influencing African liberation struggles, including the South African anti-apartheid movement, is one of her main constituents. “There is much that Black America can do for Africa,” Dr. Nyahuma said.

Many believe Dr. Chihombori-Quao was forced out of her position as AU permanent ambassador to the U.S. to please European powers, France in particular, because of her outspoken stance on continued neo-colonial control of Africa by European powers. A petition in support of her position against neocolonialism has garnered 100,000 signatures.

Her analysis frequently includes decrying “Africa” a “playground” for Western powers. During an extensive interview she told Voice of America, “They just go there to play, and—uh, exploit—I mean you take for example, you brought in France. I mean if Africans—(so-called) Francophone African countries —were to decide today that all French companies must get out of Africa. That all the monies that are going to France, estimated at hundreds of billions of dollars annually, if all that funding would stop going to France today, France will immediately become the Third World country and Africa no longer needs to be getting aid from anybody.

If you look at the billions of dollars France is getting out of Africa every year and then the fraction that they give back to Africa in the name of aid, out of what I like to call loot. They loot from us at night and during the day they come back and give us a pittance of the loot in the name of aid. It is a joke, and how we Africans have tolerated this for centuries is sad. But you know, it’s not too late. We have got to change this situation. We have got to start benefiting from our God-given natural resources. And yet, if you look at our minerals, we get royalties. French companies swoop into Africa. They bring French men to come in, working in the mines, in the industries, in the oil rigs, and we get royalties, 12 to 15 percent. It’s mind boggling. It’s completely mind boggling.”

A news story in the Daily Nation was headlined: “AU fights to justify firing envoy to Washington.” The African Union has been accused by women employees of sexism and job discrimination and has sought to justify “sacking” the AU ambassador.

African Union Commission Chairperson Moussa Faki Mahamat
A spokesperson of African Union Commission Chairperson Moussa Faki Mahamat, speaking after the firing of Ambassador Chihombori-Quao and seemingly trying to justify it, said an audit team discovered “a series of activities that indicated Dr. Chihombori-Quao abused her powers by registering entities, raising funds and endorsing diplomatic status of officials not working for the AU.”

No hearing by the AU Com-mission Chairperson’s office has been scheduled to allow the ambassador to properly respond to the allegations. The firing of the ambassador proceeded the audit by a month or more.

Some, including the organizers of the ambassadors Philadelphia visit, feel the firing might have something to do with African Union funding sources. In other words: “He that pays the piper calls the tune.”

According to the think tank ECDPM, whose objectives include making policies in Europe and Africa work for inclusive and sustainable development, “Until 2017, repeated efforts at reducing dependency on foreign funding and increasing the yearly contributions from member states of the AU had largely failed—underfunding by member states remains problematic. While there has been improvements in getting a clearer picture of the degree of dependence there is still a lack of comprehensive and consistent data on aid and AU budgets.”

The European Union is the African Union’s largest donor “and has the most comprehensive package of aid modalities or tools and programs.”

Dr. Tahiya McCoy Nyahuma, who received her Ph.D. from University of Ghana-Legon and is a founder of Global Africans, a research, education and training institute, told Africa Watch, “Dr. Chihombori-Quao’s mandate was always to promote Africa in the Americas and to mobilize the African Diaspora.” She said, “The African diaspora is defined as all people of African descent living outside of Africa.”

One of the principal organizers of Dr. Chihombori-Quao’s Philly visit, Dr. McCoy-Nyahuma said the “termination was due to her outspoken analyses of the continued exploitation of African resources and people by former colonial masters such as France.” The ambas-sador specifically pointed out the “Pact for the Continuation of Colonization,” she said. “This Pact required that all former French colonies agree to pay for their so-called colonial debt, a debt allegedly owed to France for building schools and roads and other infrastructures during colonialization. The debt is repaid by bankrupting the former colonies and impoverishing the people while continuing to enrich France, which would itself be a ‘third world country’ or an impoverished country without demanding resources from its former colonies.”

Echoing Dr. McCoy-Nyahuma, Dr. Chihombori-Quao noted in several of her speeches the “Pact for the Continuation of Colonization” has required former French colonies to deposit 85 percent of their financial reserves in the French Central Bank which amounts to $500 billion per year.

Judging by reaction to a petition in her defense, people of African descent the world over are appalled by Dr. Chihombori-Quao’s unjust dismissal. “Instead of dismantling her movement to liberate the people of African descent from colonialism and pursue financial freedom, her dismissal has galvanized the African diaspora in the spirit of UBUNTU—I am because you are!” declares the petition.

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