SRDC and PADU
Last week, in Pretoria, South Africa, the current and past administrative capital of the country, there was a meeting sponsored by the South African government based on its 2006 mandate from the African Union to hold several conferences in and about the African Diaspora in order to identify what makes the Diaspora tick. This was all related to the AU's 2003 invitation to the African Diaspora to come and join that organization to assist in unifying the African continent.
The meeting last week was to help prepare for the January, 2012 African Diaspora Final Summary gathering in South Africa, in the aftermath of five previous Diaspora Consultative Conferences and a postponed 2008 Final Summit. Officially called the Diaspora Technical Workshop, this event was what we also label the prep com Technical Workshop, or the TCEM.
There were more than 85 members of the African Diaspora asked to come to the gathering, with at least 65 accepting the challenge. Participants came from the USA (Washington State, Washington, D.C., New York, Illinois, and California), Paris, London, Guadeloupe, Brazil, Italy, the Netherlands, Germany, and various African countries, including Tanzania, Nigeria, Ghana, Egypt, Ethiopia, Uganda, the DRC (Democratic Republic of the Congo), etc.
The primary aim of the Technical Workshop was to craft the core of the agenda for the 2012 Final Conference, based on the document previously approved in 2007-2008, called the Consolidated Outcomes and the Diaspora Programme of Action. The Consolidated Outcomes document was to be re-analyzed, edited and added to somewhat, then re-approved. Finally, the Diaspora was to be formally asked how the AU should proceed regarding the African Diaspora.
The following is a truncated version of a letter crafted by the California and Washington State delegation to the Technical Workshop regarding Diaspora participation in this process.
To our hosts and friends, the government of South Africa and the African Union, the African descendants present at this gathering greet you in solidarity and appreciation for your sponsorship of this Technical workshop. What a great opportunity for international dialogue and for enhancing our mutual understanding and respect for one another !!
Each member of the African Diaspora present for these two days either represents a distinctive Diasporan organization or scores of African descendants individually. all of whom are anxious to hear positive news about the current development and status of the AU-Diaspora relationship.
We collectively want to emphasize to you that the African Diaspora is thankful for Article 3(q) of the AU Constitutive Act, and for all of the various Consultative Conferences, CIAD (Committee of Imminent African Descendants) gatherings and previous Technical Workshops which have all pushed the AU-Diaspora relationship forward, including the AU Task Force meeting recently held in NY in October, 2010.
In addition, we want to state forthrightly that the African Diaspora does not come to this relationship as beggars, paupers, supplicants or starry-eyed novices. We know we must come, and we fully intend to come, as bearers of economic benefit, as cultural architects of networked media and artistry, as skillful NGO organizers of millions of people, and as willing workers in the long struggle to achieve the United States of Africa.
We thank the government of South Africa and the African Union for the summary articulation of the Programme of Action and the Consolidated Outcomes which were originally approved in 2007-2008 as statements of commonalities for the African Diaspora and as a proposal to achieve collective work and responsibility. Although most of the short-term and long-term strategies mentioned in those documents have yet to be completed or even begun, the several action commissions established in those documents have motivated more than one Diaspora group in various parts of the world to begin to organize itself around those topic themes. The Netherlands and Germany are cases in point.
But at this particular gathering of the Technical Workshop on the African Diaspora, many of us are ready to move to a higher level in this relationship, and thus we propose the following items to be included in the Final Consolidated Outcomes and Programme of Action for the African Diaspora.
We, representing several components of the African Diaspora, including some elected, some appointed, and some just curious, assert the position that:
(1) There are currently well over 1500 African Diaspora organizations of some sort operating at one level or the other in the Diaspora 6th Region. We, as African descendants, must organize ourselves into no more than 25 or 30 large partnership associations and major coalitions in order to maximize our effectiveness in working with the AU. We will do this on our own and at our own expense---in fact the process has already moved forward with the organization of the Pan African Diaspora Union (PADU) and other large international bodies. We only ask the AU for approval and support in this process of consolidation.
(2) The permanent AU ECOSOCC (Economic, Social and Cultural Commission) has now been operating for two years (2008-2010) without the 20 elected seats designated to the African Diaspora being filled. Gaining credibility and status in ECOSOCC is crucial for African Diaspora participation in the other available components of the AU, including the PAP (Pan African Parliament). The Diaspora has at least one proven and validated method ready to correct this absence in ECOSOCC, and that is the Town Hall-Community Council of Elders model created and advocated by the SRDC (Sixth Region Diaspora Caucus) in the U.S. Central America, the Caribbean, and in Europe. Again, the African Diaspora is willing to put in the tremendous time and work necessary and to bear the expense of conducting the requisite community organizing all over the 6th Region. We simply ask the AU to sit down with the architects and advocates of that method (and any other) and make a judgement to approve and support their efforts.
(3) The African Diaspora currently does hundreds, even thousands, of individual projects in Africa every year. These include building hospitals, drilling water-well bore holes in African villages, bringing ambulances and other medical equipment to the continent, spending quality time as dentists and physicians tending to those who need it, financially supporting orphanages, school fees, computer labs, school renovation and library construction, etc. The main problem is that these efforts are often redundant and they are scattered. There needs to be a major organization and consolidation of such efforts to maximize their impact and to better focus bringing the needed resources and human capital to the areas that most require them. The African Diaspora pledges to do that.
(4) There are current plans to build and operate several Pan African Business and Trade Centers in various parts of the 6th Region so that a well-coordinated, consistent economic effort can be organized for the mutual benefit of Africa and its Diaspora. Such centers will advocate, support and direct more AGOA (U.S, African Growth and Opportunity Act) projects that actually help African growers and producers rather than frustrate and hinder them. Such centers will connect African producers and sellers with Diasporan producers and sellers. Such centers will also coordinate African scientists, architects and engineers so that more training of African youth in skilled positions occurs, and more useful projects that provide essential alternatives actually get built and become sustainable, including more solar, wind, and other green technology.
(5) Essentially, given the current decision by the AU to maximize development activities in the 8 or so African RECs (Regional Economic Communities), the African Diaspora 6th Region pledges to become an REC itself to create more opportunities and creative solutions for African descendants.