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Showing the communitys character when ambassadors come calling


The Honorable African Union (AU) Ambassador to the United States, Amina Salum Ali, came to the Southland last week, to do her scholarly thing with the Milken Institute, and to see what the Los Angeles area Black community–the African descendants–were up to.

This was her second trip to the Southland, and her first with African American co-hosts, since being appointed in 2007.

Madame Ali represents 53 African countries in her role as AU ambassador and, as such, she carries the golden weight of a great deal of Africa’s past, present and future on her shoulders. She carries it well.

Here, she continued her strong advocacy for the African Diaspora in the U.S. to get itself organized so that it can accept the African Union’s invitation for us to join that august body. Our joining may indeed help the African Union expand its leverage and credibility, which it really needs right now given the situations in Libya, the Ivory Coast, and Zimbabwe, just to name a few hot spots.

Madame Ali has become a very consistent and reliable ally in the effort to get Black folk organized enough for us to organize ourselves.

So, with the help of the Africa-USA Chamber of Commerce, the Sixth Region Diaspora Caucus (an international group first organized in Los Angeles), the great staff at Charles Drew University, the Compton City Council, and the friends of Tanzania, Los Angeles’ Black community put on the dog for the ambassador. We put on our Sunday-go-to-meeting manners and showed Madame Ali a very good time.

First, she was presented to the California Legislative Black Caucus, the Honorable Curren Price chairing, and the California State Senate in Sacramento on Monday. Then on Tuesday, there was the business-educational reception at Drew organized by Dr. Gus Gill and former Congressman Mervyn Dymally. There was a lot of strong networking talk and warm feelings generated at both venues.

After rushing back to Beverly Hills, and then back to Willowbrook Avenue and the Compton City Hall (if rushing is even possible in that kind of traffic), Madame Ali was feted by Mayor Eric Perrodin as well as Barbara Calhoun, Willie Jones, Ph.D., and the rest of Compton’s City Council. It was really a big deal all around. Then the Friends of Tanzania, her countrymen, chatted with her in Seal Beach until the wee hours.

The next morning, early, there was a downtown Los Angeles breakfast and speech to the entire community awake at that hour, and a special commemoration by Mayor Villaraigosa and the L.A. City Council, who are now strongly considering expanding their international affairs. There were presents, plaques, photos galore and all kinds of special resolutions and trade connection pronouncements.

A great time was had by all, and we showed the ambassador the non-East Coast side of Black America. For her, we beamed our character rather than paraded our many zany characters and overall made an excellent impression, if we do say so ourselves.

And at the end of the day, what was accomplished? Did we merely polish the apple and put on a dog-and-pony show to genuflect in front of the ambassador? Maybe some did, but not those among us who are serious about building the African Diaspora Sixth Region as a cultural-economic bridge to a better African future for us all. We were (and are) intent on bringing up the issue of dual citizenship for African Americans vis-a-vis Africa, both while Africa is still 54 countries (Morocco is not a part of the AU), and when Africa becomes the United States of Africa or Union of African States. We are convinced the Black community here deserves at least that option. We are also intent on building the necessary organizational capacity and credibility for organizing 300 million African Diasporans, including establishing our own economic engines.

Madame Ali’s visit allowed opportunities to move forward on each of those issues, and much more. Our future is in our hands–we can either sit and wait on something positive to happen for us, or we can go out and make it happen. Either way, our future awaits. My position is, it will not wait long. We must seize it where it lives and mold it to our beneficial purpose.

The Decade of the African Diaspora continues. Madame Ali is doing her part. Are you doing yours?

Professor David L. Horne is founder and executive director of PAPPEI, the Pan African Public Policy and Ethical Institute, which is a new 501(c)(3) pending community-based organization or Non-Governmental Organization (NGO). It is the step-parent organization for the California Black Think Tank which still operates and which meets every fourth Friday.

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