WASHINGTON (FinalCall.com) – The African Union (AU) may one day find that its most powerful ally is Blacks in the United States. At the same time, Blacks in this country can be literally “transformed” by making a pilgrimage to the African continent, which represents the “final frontier” for world economic development, National Newspaper Publishers Association (NNPA) members were told Sept. 8.

But ironically, the African ambassadors in Washington have never sat down and met with the 39-member Congressional Black Caucus (CBC). “Marcus Garvey must be turning over in his grave,” Melvin Foote, president of the Constituency for Africa (CFA) told the meeting held at historic Africare House during the annual (CBC) Legislative Conference week. “Kwame Nkrumah is saying: ‘What is going on with our people?’”

More than a year ago, the AU decided to formally include Africans living in the Diaspora as the “Sixth Region” of the Union’s organizational structure, said Mr. Foote who said he intends to bring about a face-to-face meeting between the CBC and the African diplomatic corps. He considers that AU’s decision a dramatic expansion of the reach of Africa into the power corridors of Washington, but the AU must first expand its outreach to Blacks in the U.S.


Investment by Blacks in this country through pension funds and credit unions may be the last economic frontier anywhere in the world, said Dorothy Leavell, publisher of The Chicago Crusader, who has made several trips throughout the African continent as part of numerous delegations. One African president advised a delegation in which she was a member that the African economy has yet to receive the infusion of investment financing that would ensure its future wealth and development.

“There is a very important need for us to get the right story out about the issues,” said Ms. Leavell, who attended the birth of the AU in Durban, South Africa in June 2002. “We need to be Brothers and Sisters. Starting this dialogue is extremely important if we are going to really walk the walk and talk the talk. We’ve got to communicate so that we (the Black Press) can get your story out.”

Black newspaper publishers would also be prime candidates for ownership of media outlets in Africa, Mr. Foote told The Final Call. “It could be the African/African-American CNN on the continent,” he said.

“There is no one who visits Africa who is not transformed,” South African Ambassador Barbara Masekela told the session. “I am astonished when I visit from wealthy South Africa to Ghana and see the dignity” in the Ghanaian people who have far less wealth.

“It is incumbent upon all of us to have this kind of sharing,” Ambassador Masekela continued. “I’m tired of going places where people have been talking all the time. We need the participation of Africans in the Diaspora, no matter at what small level in the economic development of Africa–which means infrastructure building,” she said. “We need Africans in the Diaspora involved at whatever level, because that is the story of Africa, not to mention we don’t have pollution and we do have beautiful wild animals.”

The continent is full of stories needing to be told, and issues that should be important to Blacks in this country, according to another ambassador. There are 71,000 former combatants in Liberia, for example and unless someone provides employment for those men, they can be easily attracted to Cote d’Ivoire or Sierra Leone where armed rebellions continue, said Aaron Collie, ambassador from Liberia to the U.S.

“We have 35 million of us over here, and it behooves African Americans to link up with 800 million in Africa, to link up with the 600 million in Brazil and the Caribbean. These are our people,” Mr. Foote continued.

For its part, the CBC has established taskforces on Africa, has drafted legislation for economic development and trade and, in addition to verbal and legislative support, many CBC members have traveled there.