African, know thyself, Symposium urges

At a symposium held at the Robert Wagner Graduate School of Public Service on Monday, May 6, the unanimous conclusion was that it is an important first step for Africans and Africans in the Diaspora to develop the consciousness of self as Africans.

In his opening remarks, Wale Ajibade, Executive Director of African Views deposed that it was necessary to continue the dialogue of finding a way to unite as a people. He added that it was also necessary to embrace the diversity of opinions while taking into consideration the changing dynamics of the world and Africa.

Keynote speaker Queen Mother Dr. Delois Blakely espoused on the necessity of Africans to start with the recognition of oneself as a source of unity. “The conversation to have is with oneself,” she said. She recalled her visit with the renowned late novelist Chinua Achebe who she showed and discussed her work “Sister Act.” As a Fulbright Scholar in Tanzania, Queen Mother Blakely said she was able to learn about Africa and considered herself blessed for the experience. She prescribed the importance of culture. “You must begin to speak to who you are and indentify with Africa. Let us open the dialogue: I am Africa,” she concluded.

The event, organized by NYU Wagner Student Alliance for Africa (WSAFA) and the African Views Organization was also addressed by Mr. Oliver Mbamara, lawyer and creative artiste. He acknowledged that the founding fathers of African unity, Nkrumah, Nnamdi Azikiwe and the others struggled for unity. What we see now, he said, is that we fight among ourselves. Extreme political and religious affiliations now constitute a distraction from the unity of purpose. He also stressed on the need to adapt to the changing circumstances of the world around us.

Mr. Mbamara reminded the audience that Africans must reclaim their heritage. The recognition  Africans must also recognize that the continent has its racial differences but “unity can transcend race, color and religion.”

In an open discussion that followed, the overwhelming opinion was for Africans to identify with their heritage. Suggestions of education reforms in urban schools that include pedagogical tools that identified with African heritage be prescribed for social justice in education. Also emphasized was education as a tool to increase understanding among Africans and Africans in the Diaspora. Others advocated for increased community involvement in education and nurturing of the youth.

Other speakers included Anthony A. L. Adjasse, president/CEO of Allied African Nations Chamber of Commerce (AANCC), Kwaku Awuah, president of 54 Kingdoms, an apparel, and accessory company and Ololade Siyonbola, author and poet and founder of the Yoruba Cultural Institute.

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Posted by on May 16 2013. Filed under top stories. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

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