African Peoples Advocacy (APA) was delighted to organise the inaugural African Diaspora New Year Lecture on 23rd January 2013 at University College, London.
APA’s vision in organising the lecture is to bring together outstanding members of the African Diaspora, partners and friends of Africa each January, so that they may exchange ideas on a specific theme and establish synergies for concrete action throughout the year.
For this 1st African Diaspora New Year Lecture, APA teamed up with Women4Africa and UCL through Dr Ben Page of the Department of Geography, who booked the beautiful Room LG04 from 6.30pm to 9.00pm.
The meeting, attended by nearly 150 people from African and other backgrounds, was superbly chaired by Mr Eric Chinje, Director for Strategic Communications at the Mo Ibrahim Foundation. He praised APA for the initiative, and said he was honoured to participate in such a historic event.
The keynote lecture was delivered by the writer, pan-African activist and founder of APA, Chantal Aboa (aka Sylvie Aboa-Bradwell). Ms Aboa stressed that what is important is not how people looked, whether they were black or white, or African or non-African. The important thing was the common interest in the theme ‘The Inspiring Power of Africa.’ It was crucial to discover how Africa has inspired other people, how it can inspire us so that we in turn can inspire and galvanise others into concrete action. She outlined many ways in which African could inspire all types of individuals, entrepreneurs, policy makers, diplomats and so on. Chantal said the twenty-first century is the ideal century for people to be inspired by a continent that is as diverse as Africa.
She concluded her speech by stating that though people usually see the African continent and African communities in terms of challenges facing them, for her, these are not challenges. These are circumstances full of potential and opportunities: the opportunity to be the leader that will unite a divided nation if you are coming from a country recently at war; or the opportunity to be the country’s first billionaire if you are an entrepreneur, and so on. All the people present had the potential and opportunity to participate in the building and consolidation of the first ever African-led think tank in the UK: African Peoples Advocacy. But to fulfil this potential, they should not wait for tomorrow or for someone else. They must be prepared to start working and collaborating with APA so that we all become agents of positive change, and whatever change you want to achieve, always ask yourself, if not me who, and if not now when?
Special guest of honour was journalist and Filmmaker Sorious Samura. In his intervention, Mr Samura stressed the need for Africans not to wait for others to define them, to define how they are perceived, or to determine what they should do in the future.
Africans must be prepared to use their skills as story tellers to tell their own stories, and determine their destiny. Mr Samura took the example of Mali, where French soldiers were operating, to highlight the fact that Africans must strive to find appropriate solutions to the crises confronting their nations.
Mr Sam Onigbanjo, CEO of Women4Africa, and Ms Samara Hammond, CEO of AMREF UK, also spoke. They highlighted the role of their respective organisations in terms of promoting African women’s rights and welfare.
The event ended with a lively question and answer session, and the promise from several attendees to take concrete action and collaborate with APA to implement projects that are of relevance to African communities.