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01.10.2005 Diaspora News

Birth Of An African Federation

By Kofi A. Boateng
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Pan-Africanism came alive on Wednesday September 28, 2005 when a standing-room only crowd representing the Africa Diaspora from many African countries, the Caribbean, South America and the USA gathered at the Ghana Mission in New York City to unanimously affirm the formation of a new organization to be called the Federation of African Organizations (FAO). The brainchild of Mr. Benjamin Afrifa of Ford Foundation, FAO aims to strengthen the institutional capacities of African –serving organizations. This will come in the form of technical, program development and fundraising assistance. FAO will initially focus on the US but has plans to grow world-wide.

Professor Mojubaolu Okome of Brooklyn College provided a framework for looking at the African Diaspora; delineating those that came on their volition versus those that were forced into migrating from Africa. In the end, time of departure may be the only distinction among people of African descent living away from the continent as all face a common destiny. Asfaha Hadera, Founder and Co- Executive Director of African Services Committee recounted the daily difficulties that face African refugees and the organizations that serve them and underscored the need for an umbrella organization that can pool resources to assist African-serving organizations. Seema Agnani, Executive Director of Asia Pacific Islander Community remarked on parallels between the Asian Diaspora and African and served a cautionary note on starting with small projects and building on success while making sure that accountability and transparency are in place. Betty King, a former US Representative to the UN Economic and Social Council encouraged FAO to build an African philanthropy base and not be discouraged by the uphill climb. On this note, Lorelei of the Brazilian Foundation gave examples of how professional and working class Brazilians living in the USA contribute to the Foundation to support projects in their country.

Mr. Akwasi Aidoo (PhD), Director of Trust Africa, a new foundation established by Ford Foundation to support collaboration among African NGOs was enthused about the mission of FAO and pledged his support as did Dr. Natalia Kanem, President of The ELMA Philanthropies. Dr Kanem, an African- Panamanian, challenged the Diaspora to transform the continent with their new found expertise and wealth. Exquisitely moderated by Mr. Kofi A. Boateng, the Chief Operating Officer of the Africa-America Institute, the conference echoed a cartoon of Africa receiving an injection with the caption: “The African Diaspora- the Medicine for what Ails Africa”

The highly successful conference was supported by the Africa Group that comprises the Consuls General of Africa based in New York City. The event was part of the Group's AFRICA DIASPORA IN ACTION series. The planning committee comprised Messrs. Afrifa, Boateng, Hadera, Amanuel Girgio and Charles Okyere.