H.E. Dr. Arikana Chihombori-Quao Urges Africans to Speak Up


The immediate past Ambassador of the African Union to the U.S., Her Excellency Dr. Arikana Chihombori-Quao, has tasked Africans with getting rid of their colonial mentality and demystifying their mindsets in order to forge ahead for economic emancipation. She argued that the psychological mind game Europeans played on the psyche of Africans, which made the latter believe that the devil is black and the angel is white, should be confined to the ash heap of history.

That mentality, she emphasized, has affected Africans on several fronts and levels, including negotiations in boardrooms. She observed that Africans have been disrespected and pushed around for far too long because Africans exhibited signs of incapability. She added that while the voices of people in other diasporas are heard loud and clear, that of Africa is stymied. “That has got to stop,” she charged. Ambassador Chihombori-Quao, who hitherto practiced medicine in Tennessee for almost thirty years before accepting the AU appointment in 2017, was addressing a conference on “Pan Africanism, Past, Present & Future” on October 19, 2019, in Harlem, New York City.

Tracing the history of Europeans colonialization in Africa, the activist-diplomat pointed out that when colonial Europe reared its head in Africa, the continent went to sleep, which paved the way for the visitors to demoralize and destroy the well-established kingdoms and institutions in Africa. That enabled Europeans to subjugate Africa. She explained that not only did colonial Europe steal from the Africans, but they pilfered and pillaged amongst themselves. To avoid continuous and prolonged war on African soil among themselves, then Chancellor of Germany Otto von Bismarck suggested to King Leopold II of Belgium and other European counterparts to converge in Berlin and strategize to defeat and dominate Africans.

She opined that the domination was virtually on all fronts, including foisting their languages on Africans: Portuguese in Angola, English in southern Cameroon, French in northern Cameroon, Spanish in Equatorial Guinea, and so on and so forth, at the expense of indigenous languages. “One hundred and thirtyfive years, and the strategies of the Berlin Conference are still alive and well today; it’s all by design,” she prodded on.

She said Africa was intentionally and purposefully chopped into pieces at the Berlin Conference so it would be almost impossible for the chopped nations – as stand-alone countries – to be economically independent. She cited contemporary international negotiations where tiny and poorer sovereign African countries are left at the mercy of bigger and richer countries. ‘It’s like putting a lightweight and a heavyweight in the same boxing ring to fight.” “How did we [African] get here?” she rhetorically asked. She predicted that unless Africans come together and decide to fit in the Titanic, “we are all going down.”

The fearless diplomat said that between 1958 and 1961, when the colonizers decided to give political independence to Africa, France asked its colonies to sign a document called The Pact for the Continuation of Colonization. The document, among other things, required each of the so-called independent Francophone African countries to deposit 85% of their bank reserves with the French Central Bank and under France’s Minister of Finance. The colonies might or might not be privy to accruals of their invested funds and might borrow up to only 20% in any given year with interest and a financial report approved by France.

Ambassador Chihombori-Quao, however, quickly added that the deposit has been reduced from the 85% to between 50 and 60%. Francophone African leaders who refused to sign the pact or wanted to pull out of the pact were eliminated, especially through military coups d’etat. For example, Guinea refused to sign the pact, and the departing French personnel imploded, destroyed, and immobilized the infrastructure that had been built or developed by France. Mali’s government attempted to get out of the French colonial currency – FCFA – and, like President Olympio of Togo, was overthrown with the help of France. Ghana’s then Premier

Kwame Nkrumah, in an attempt to bail out these two countries, constituted the Ghana, Guinea and Mali Alliance. The actions of colonial France precipitated the need for Africa to come together, and Emperor Haile Selassie of Ethiopia invited the independent African leaders to Addis Ababa in May 1963. Two different groups emerged at this historic conference: the Casablanca Group led by Ghana’s President Nkrumah and the Monrovia Group led by President Nyerere of Tanzania. While the Casablanca Group agitated for express unification of Africa, the Monrovia Group called for a “go-slow” process. “Africa lost in 1963 when the Casablanca Group lost to the majority Monrovia Group that wanted to tread cautiously and slowly on Africa Unity,” Ambassador ChihomboriQuao explained.

The affable Ambassador is, however, convinced beyond doubt that Africa will soon bounce back through the implementation of the Africa Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) scheduled to come into effect in July 2020. She was optimistic that the Africa Continental Free Trade Area will create a market for about 1.27 billion Africans with a GDP of about $3 trillion. She conjectured that economic independence will be facilitated through efficient travel and trade between African countries. “Where there is a will, there is a way, and when it is time, it is time,” she philosophized. She predicted that after July of 2020 there will be no need for any African country to project and forecast its food requirement because everything will be computed in terms of Africa. The question of “how many tons of wheat Ghana or Kenya needs to feed its citizens will be irrelevant; rather, it will be asked “how many tons of wheat does Africa needs to feed its people?”

She warned that economic liberation can only be realized by Africans through harnessing resources together to build high-speed rails and establish air and shipping lines, among other goals. She challenged the African diaspora to go back to Africa to get what is theirs because the wealth of Africa beckons them. “We have to believe in one another to achieve this,” she commented. She said Africans should believe in themselves by decolonizing their mindsets.

Other speakers included Dr. Leonard Jeffries, Mr. Raymond Dugue, and Mr. Peter Sankara.

Posted by on Nov 13 2019. 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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