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The first of its kind open dialogue between all stakeholders in the African Diaspora in China
By Nancy Monnya
African gatherings all over the world are known to be engaging, entertaining,and full of amazing performances and great speeches. We always say when Africans gather, it is bound to be a joyous gathering. The afternoon of the first Forum for African Diaspora in China (FADC), 19 May 2019 was not much different, except this time the gathering was more like a huge family get together; the first Forum of its kind to engage the diplomatic community, African students,professionals, organisations and companies in a discourse on what, where, who, when, and how the African Diaspora in China can organize itself into a solid community, and how all their experiences, resources, skills and knowledge can be channelled back into Africa.
Like in many parts of the world, China has a vast community of Africans, either working, doing business or studying. The African Diaspora in China is not only made up of people from Africa but also people of African descent from all over the world; and it has long been understood that African Diaspora communities across the world has the potential to be an integral part of the development of Africa; and this was the motivation behind the FADC - ‘Involving all of Africa’s citizens in it’s development, including those living outside the continent’, as envisioned by African Unions Agenda 2063.
It has become clear that Africans have amazing initiatives, and enterprises in China but most are working in isolation. Unity and organization always breeds strength and ensures sustainability of community based projects, and like the African saying goes, “if you want to go fast, go alone. But if you want to go further, take company”.
With this in mind, DUAPA Africa took the initiate to organise and coordinate the first FADC, to not only mobilize, but to also organize the community in order to be more effective in using its knowledge, skills and resources to grow the organisations, and companies in China, and to also have discourses on how to reinvest back into the African continent.
The Group of African Ambassadors, The African Union Mission to China, and the Ambassador of Rwanda and the staff of the embassy, on behalf of the 54 Africa embassies in China, endeavoured to assist in coordinating the Forum, as well as being in attendance.
Musa Frimpong, the CEO and co-founder of DUAPA Africa and chairperson of the organising committee opened the forum with a welcoming speech that took the audience on a journey of the Safari, touching on the importance of changing the age-old narratives of Africa, the specific roles the Diaspora can play in areas such as policy making, talent and education. He also emphasised the need to change the three Ds that have for centuries been attached to Africa, death,despair and disease. “It is indeed our responsibility to shape the new face of Africa!”
Mr. Ma Zhenxuan
The second welcoming speech was by the host the President of the Public Diplomacy & Cultural Exchange Centre,where the Forum was held, Mr. Ma Zhenxuan, who highlighted the brotherhood between China and Africa, and the great potentials that lies within the mutually beneficial cooperation, as well as the importance of continuing the friendship between China and African countries.
Mr. Rahamtalla Mohamed Osman
The Forum comprised of key note speeches,the first of which was by His Excellency Mr. Rahamtalla Mohamed Osman, the Permanent Representative of the African Union to China. He thanked the organising committee and the host Mr. Ma Zhenxuan and the Public Diplomacy and Culture Centre for offering the venue. He touched on the role of education, and the students in the Diaspora in achieving the Africa we want,as envisioned in the Agenda 2063 “You are living in a country with advanced technologies, with some of the world’s fastest computers, mobile payment systems, a vast array of e-commerce services, which were all created by young people like you and are now changing the way of life in China. Learn from these, and apply the knowledge in your local communities”
His Excellency Lt. General Charles Kayonga
This was followed by a speech from His Excellency Lt. General Charles Kayonga, The ambassador of the Republic of Rwanda to China, as the Representative of the Dean of Group of African Ambassadors, His Excellency Mr. Martin Mpana, the ambassador of the Republic of Cameroon. H. E Kayonga encouraged the participants to take initiatives as the future of Africa was in our hands, encouraging everyone to remember the significance of Africa Week.
H.E Mr. Charles Namondwe, Mr. Ma Zhenxuan, H.E Lt General Charles Kayonga,
H.E Ms. Tania Romualdo, H.E. Mr. Rahamtalla Mohamed Osman exchanged gifts
between the Group of African Ambassadors and the venue host Mr. Ma Zhenxuan.
Two of Africa’s talented artists in China,Ghanaian Saxophonist Samuel Ofosu Donyina and Zimbabwean artist Simba Chikonye aka Da MC, interjected the sessions with their performances
The first Impact Africa session, a panel moderated by Ms. Hannah Ryder, CEO of Development Reimagined and former Head of Policy and Partnerships for UNDP China. The panel comprised of five panel members:
His Excellency Mr. Edward Boateng, the Ambassador of the Republic of Ghana to China, who shared with the participants from his vast experience in business, from being in media in the US and UK, and also returning back home to bring his experiences and expertise to Africa, first to South Africa, Kenya and eventually Ghana, after studying and working abroad.
Her Excellency Tania Romualdo, Ambassador of Cabo Verde to China, who added a voice from one of Africa’s beautiful islands. She also highlighted the importance of taking initiatives, self development and fostering a spirit of collective work.
Dr. Samantha T. Simanda from Zimbabwe shared her experiences in China and her motivation to initiate Appreciate Africa Network and Pride of Africa Asia Pacific Awards, as well as Miss Plus Size, and various other projects that uplifts and up-skills women. ‘When we don’t tell our stories, the narrative remains the same.’
Ms.Dahlia A. Ducreay from the Commonwealth of Dominica, founder of the Ducreay foundation, gave a voice to the Diaspora, people of African descent across the world, bringing a much needed perspective to the discourse; bridging the gap between all people of African descent and the continent.
Mr. Joseph O. Mendo’o gave a voice to the African student community in Beijing, sharing his experiences as an African student and insights on how to leverage on the opportunity many have of studying abroad, and acquire vast array of knowledge and skills.
The 2nd Impact Africa session, moderated by the MCs of the day Mr. Steve Wonder Amakpah and Ms. Nancy Monnya, begun with five thematic questions that the audience was encouraged to tackle, make comments on or ask questions that would be handled by the panel, and the Ambassadors.
1. Business and entrepreneurial growth in the Diaspora, connecting it back home; 2. Technology and Innovation (what and how); 3. Collective action (who, where, when, and how); 4. Re-branding - The New face of Africa; 5. China- Africa Cooperation (what, who and how).
His Excellency Mr. Charles Namondwe, the Ambassador of Malawi joined the other embassies, including the representative of the Embassy of the Arab Republic of Egypt, Mr. Tamer Kambashawy, in moderating the questions and comments of the Open Forum.
Participants engaged in the Impact Africa session, sharing ideas, and asking questions on how to bring on the tangible solutions. Many great ideas were shared and it indeed proved an interesting and highly efficient forum that gave the participants a chance to engage their embassies in a first of its kind open discussion in Beijing and get much needed insights on how to bring the Diaspora together and make the Forum for African Diaspora in China as sustainable project.
The Forum, which was attended by nearly 200 people, despite there being many other events happening at the same time in Beijing, lasted nearly four hours, longer than the scheduled time. The participants requested to extend the Open Forum, with the permission of the ambassadors as the forum has been a long-awaited platform. The forum was closed by the chairperson of the organizing committee, Musa Frimpong, with a resounding agreement from all stakeholders to carry through the implementation of the forum’s outcomes, one of which is ensuring the forum leads to more practical work done.
Article by Public Diplomacy and Culture Center http://www.pdcec.com/bencandy.php?fid=71&id=40805