This year, 2010, over seventeen African states celebrate their independence. (For the complete list of African nations celebrating their Independence in 2010, follow the short link to France24: (http://bit.ly/baecYw).
For many, the occasion is a call for celebration; not surprisingly, others take it as a reminder of the long road ahead for the global community to see the achievement of Africa's unfulfilled promise.
Yesterday, I opened my gmail inbox to find a message from the staff of an organization I belong to by the name of Harambe Endeavor Alliance. The e-mail contained an invitation to "President Obama's Forum with Young African Leaders" at the White House (read the corresponding White House press release). Excitement overtook me, and I could hardly contain my joy: I was granted the opportunity to engage with change personified, in order to define Africa's future relationship with the world.
My friend Mayokun Odukale tapped my knee, snapping me out of my mind's travels and bringing me back to the present moment: we were sitting in Kenney Auditorium at Johns Hopkins University SAIS for Diaspora Camp DC '10.
Throughout the day, I listened closely to the words of the panelists and speakers. Dr. Philip Auerswald of George Mason University made it clear that an individual such as himself would need to work with the diaspora in order to purposefully apply his expertise on the continent. Not much later, Richard Cambridge, head of Diaspora Relations at the World Bank, emphasized the importance of the African Diaspora, touching on similar points. "The diaspora is a very powerful engine for growth on the continent," and "Africans are the most educated immigrant group in the United States" he stated assuredly. He went on further by attributing the success of China in Africa to one-on-one relationships between the Chinese and African diasporeans. "Have you ever heard of Africa town?" I recall hearing him shout energetically, in reference to a community of over a 100,000 in China, through which the Chinese approach business on the continent.
President Obama, the First Lady, and their daughters in Ghana
Clearly, the speakers from Diaspora Camp are not alone in realizing the importance of the African Diaspora. Since inauguration in January 2009, the Obama Administration has turned its attention to Africa and is now seeking to engage young Africans in the future of America's engagement with Africa. President Obama has traveled to the continent to reach out, and has not shown timidity in his determination to build positive partnerships with Africa. China is moving just as swifly to attract the attention of the diaspora. The world seems to be waking up to the fact that the fruits of Africa's brain drain will bear the seeds of the continent's coming social and economic reinvigoration. For now. I will withold judgement on the possible results of such engagement. Following my return from the White House, I will reflect on the discussions and do my best to contribute to the change we all hope for.
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