Delaware State U. working with African Union to connect African Americans to Africa

African Union Ambassador Arikana Chihombori-Quao speaks at a panel discussion during the Pan African Development Conference at DSU Thursday afternoon (Courtesy of Delaware State University)

African Union Ambassador Arikana Chihombori-Quao speaks at a panel discussion during the Pan African Development Conference at DSU Thursday afternoon (Courtesy of Delaware State University)

This article originally appeared on The Philadelphia Tribune.

Delaware State University has partnered with the African Peer Review Mechanism to help bridge the gap between Africa and its “Sixth Region” — people of African heritage who live outside the continent.

The APRM is an agency of the African Union that studies African nations and develops best practices for governance.

DSU, a historically Black university, has established the Center for Global Africa to “tie direct links with HBCUs into Africa,” said Ezrah Ahrone, a DSU adjunct associate professor of political science who helped develop the Center for Global Africa.

“It’s important to get young people involved,” said Dusty Baker, one of the founders of Kool-Baker Global Inc., a development partner in the effort. Kool-Baker works to bring renewable energy to Africa. It was founded by Baker, a former Major League baseball player, and Kool and the Gang frontman Robert “Kool” Bell.

“There’s so much of Africa that needs power, so hopefully we can get a few people motivated to come in this area and come in this field,” Baker said. “Then we’ve done our job.”

Robert “Kool” Bell of Kool and the Gang speaks at a panel discussion at Delaware State University’s Pan African Development ConferenceBell and baseball legend Dusty Baker founded Kool-Baker Global to bring renewable energy initiatives to Africa. They are a development partner in the collaboration between the university and the African Peer Review Mechanism (Courtesy of Delaware State University)

DSU administrators, Baker, Bell and African diplomats announced the partnership and the creation of the Center for Global Africa during the university’s first Pan African Development Conference on Thursday morning.

Attendees came from as far away as South Africa, Egypt and Ethiopia. Attendees also came from other HBCUs, including Lincoln University.

Ibrahim Gambari, a Nigerian scholar and diplomat who chairs the APRM Panel of Eminent Persons, said the seminar was timely, as this year marks the 400th anniversary of the trans-Atlantic slave trade.

“That trade is a crime against humanity,” Gambari said. “It’s the foundation of racism and the racist attitude toward Africa and people of African descent.”

Gambari said DSU was taking the first step to helping raise awareness of Africa and DSU’s new initiative.

“We want to take control of our destiny,” Gambari said. “We want to organize ourselves, but we want to organize ourselves better to provide for our people.”

Dr. Arikana Chihombori-Quao, the African Union ambassador to the U.S., brought greetings to attendees from the 55 African heads of states and the 1.27 billion people who live on the continent. She said it’s time to talk about Africa and African Americans being “one voice, one Africa, one continent, one heart, proud and strong.”

When she became a diplomat, she said, she didn’t expect to stay long, but “blatant and profound disrespect of Africa” convinced her to stay.

“I decided I just maybe could be a voice for the voiceless,” she said.

The ambassador said Blacks are missing in action and it’s time to organize.

“When you ask for the voices of the African diaspora, you might as well go to the graveyard,” Chihombori-Quao said. “You wonder why we become the most disrespected people. We don’t trust each other. The rest of the other ethnic groups, they stick together like super glue when it comes to issues to do with their country or origin. We Black people are too busy running away from each other.”

She said African heads of state are encouraging African Americans to visit the continent between Sept. 28 and Oct. 4.

“We are going to celebrate the children of Africa coming home,” she said.


rpersinger@phillytrib.com (215) 893-5724

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