DSU holds first ‘Pan African Development Conference’

DOVER — Dr. Arikana Chihombori-Quao, the African Union Ambassador to the United States, says there is not enough trust and cooperation among decendents of Africans.

Addressing a packed hall on Thursday in Delaware State University’s (DSU) Martin Luther King, Jr. Student Center, Dr. Chihombori-Quao ruminated on how other ethnicities felt about their countries of origin.

“If you look at the Irish diaspora with members of congress, people who work for the State Department, Americans in general, some of these people are two or three generations removed from Ireland, but they’re still a proud diaspora,” she said. “Now, when you ask for the voices of the African diaspora? You might as well go to the graveyard. We’re missing in action. And you wonder why we’ve become the most disrespected people on earth? You wonder why we seem to be just wandering in the wilderness? We don’t trust each other. Other ethic groups stick together like super-glue when it has anything to do with their country of origin.”

Pushing her audience to consider the status of the “African diaspora,” she claimed there was a deficit of cooperation among the ethnic group. “We’re so busy running away from each other,” said Dr. Chihombori-Quao. “If there are two men selling ice on either side of the street — one is a black man and the other is a white man — we black people are going to go to the white man’s ice because we think it’s colder. That’s just the way we are. We don’t believe in ourselves and each other. That has got to change. How we get respect is when we come together and speak with one voice.”

Dr. Chihombori-Quao was one of the many speakers at DSU’s first annual Pan African Development Conference. The free event ran from Wednesday to Friday.
The conference was the school’s way to launch its new Center for Global Africa (CGA) and solidify a partnership with African Peer Review Mechanism (APRM) of the African Union (AU). It’s intended to help “mobilize the sixth region” says the school.

The sixth region, as recognized by the AU, is made up of the “African diaspora” — people of African descent who live outside the African continent who are willing to contribute to the development of the continent and the building of the AU.

DSU administrators noted that the conference gathered top academic, economic, political and media stakeholders of the diaspora to “create and strengthen functional ties with Africa.”

The conference and its vision of the CGA coincides with the 400-year mark (1619-2019) of the “Transatlantic Slave Trade.” Organizers say there’s a need to “structurally combine and apply resources and expertise towards common ideals and institutional collaborations to advance mutual interests and progress of Africa and the diaspora.”

Students, university staff and residents gathered to participate in and observe a series of panels and presentations on topics like: business development in Africa, industry expert talks on agriculture, technology and innovation.

Among the guests attending the conference was Robert “Kool” Bell of the R&B group Kool & the Gang, and Dusty Baker, former major league baseball manager and all-star player. The two men recently formed Kool-Baker Global Inc. to bring renewable energy projects to Africa, notes the university.

The APRM was established in 2003 as a s”elf-monitoring initiative to promote good governance in Africa.” Organizers say it’s a mutually agreed instrument, voluntarily acceded to by African Union (AU) Member States with the aim of fostering the adoption of policies, standards and practices that lead to political stability, high economic growth, sustainable development and accelerated regional and economic integration.

The APRM believes that these objectives are achieved by “sharing experiences and reinforcing good practices, including identifying deficiencies and assessing the capacity building needs of participating countries.” The APRM attempts to promote peer learning and sharing through “constructive dialogue and persuasion.”

APRM assessments are conducted within the framework of agreed values, codes and standards enshrined in the AU declaration on democracy, political, economic and corporate governance under the following four areas:

• Democracy and Political Governance

• Economic Governance and Management

• Corporate Governance

• Socio-Economic Development

Staff writer Ian Gronau can be reached at 741-8272 or igronau@newszap.com

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