Senior Correspondent

WASHINGTON ( – The African Union (AU) officially launched its diplomatic mission to the United States on July 11 at the Organization of American States/African Union Democracy Bridge Forum themed “Democracy Bridge: Multilateral Regional Efforts for the Promotion and Defense of Democracy in Africa and the Americas.”

Established in 2002 as a successor to the Organization of African Unity (OAU), the AU seeks to “build an integrated Africa, a prosperous and peaceful Africa.” The African Union Ambassador to the United States is the Honorable Amina Salum Ali of the United Republic of Tanzania, whose goal is to promote greater understanding between the peoples of the United States and Africa.

The “vision” of the AU’s founding fathers was to have an organization which operated offices outside of Africa, “ensuring a presence and representation of the African Union in the world, in a number of positions in the world,” Ambassador Said Djinnit, AU Commissioner for Peace and Security said at the official dedication.


Among the goals he stressed is an eventual “United States of Africa,” as well as stronger ties with the United States of America. In the early 1990s, he said the OAU initiated a transformation from a focus on de-colonization, to a focus on peace and security and democratization, and governance. The “new agenda of the OAU” was assisted, from its very first days by the United States, said Amb. Djinnit.

The announcement by the U.S. government that it would establish a military command on the continent was described as “recognition by the U.S. government that Africa is on the move, is on the right direction, it needs strong support. The realization that we should look at Africa in strategic terms is most welcome.”

“In recent years, in Africa, we have seen a democratic transformation sweep the continent, and we have observed many heads of state leaving office voluntarily,” stated Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice in her remarks at the forum.

Amb. Djinnit insisted that the new diplomatic mission is recognition of the increasing importance of the African continent in the U.S. government’s future.

“We are happy and proud that the flag of the African Union would be side-by-side with the flag of the U.S., here in Washington, and that we have our first representative here, a lady, to keep track both with the U.S. administration, with the Congress, but also with the people of the U.S. and the Diaspora. To mobilize support, resources, and also to explain; to explain what Africa is doing because we believe that we are decided and determined in Africa to move with speed on the issue that ensuring peace prevails for our people, because there is nothing more precious than peace for our people. But also to make sure that the process of governance, democratization, human rights, is irreversible.

“We are on track and we are clear about what we’re doing. To promoting integration and to use toward a United States of Africa and a Union government. It will take some time. The debate is continuing. We have no doubt. We are embarked on the clear way towards the United States of Africa.”

While there was very little participation from Blacks throughout the Diaspora at the launching of the AU in Durban, South Africa in June 2002, the organization has begun to reach out to Blacks throughout the world, particularly in the West.

“I want to say we are very excited about the African Union now,” said Melvin Foote, President of the Constituency for Africa at the dedication. “We’re fully engaged in the effort to build the Diaspora support for the African Union here in the United States and here in the Western Hemisphere.” There are hundreds of millions of Blacks from Africa throughout Latin America.

“This is a tremendous bridge-building effort by the African Union,” Tony Regusters, a media adviser for elected officials and various African clients told The Final Call. “There are people in Nigeria, people in Ghana, people in South Africa, people in Ethiopia who were really pressing for this to occur. Obviously they have an interest because they have many, many immigrants here, and they represent a tremendous amount of money sent back to Africa.

“They are looking at the African American community to ‘come back home’ as they have said, but at the same time they want to empower us politically to have a vote, if you will, about issues and developments covered at the African Union. So it’s more than just a welcome home, it’s an empowerment of our people. This represents a tremendous opportunity for us. It’s a whole new portal for African and African American relations for the 21st Century,” said Mr. Regusters.

The U.S. government clearly recognizes the potential. When Dr. Cindy Courville, former Senior Director for Africa at the National Security Council, was nominated last year by the Bush administration to serve as U.S. Ambassador to the AU, she testified at her Senate confirmation hearing that the United States’ decision to establish diplomatic ties with the African Union was a reflection that “Africa holds growing geo-strategic importance and is a high priority in this administration.”