23rd February, 2020
Mrs. Abike Dabiri-Erewa, Chairman, Nigerians in Diaspora Commission (NIDCOM), has joined other Pan-Africanists in New York to remind the Africans in diaspora of their root.
The event was the Pan-African Unity Dialogue (PAUD) hosted by the Institute of the Black World 21st Century based in the United States.
The forum was in commemoration of the 55th anniversary of the death of prominent black civil rights campaigner, El-Hajj El-Shabazz, popularly known as Malcom X.
PAUD focuses on promoting unity, cooperation and action between Africans at home and in the diaspora.
The high profile event brought together politicians, diplomats, Africa-American community leaders, scholars, civil society and religious leaders.
Other speakers included New York State senator, James Sanders Jnr; Chairman, House of Representatives Committee on Diaspora, Tolulope Sadipe, and the Ambassador of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines to the United Nations, Rhonda King.
Consul General of Nigeria in New York, Mr Benaoyagha Okoyen; Senior Special Assistant to the Governor of Lagos State on Diaspora Affairs, Mr Jermaine Sanwo-Olu, and Dr Julius Garvey, son of the popular human rights advocate for Africans, Marcus Garvey, also contributed.
Dabiri-Erewa, who was the special guest of honor, emphasised the need for unity and cooperation between Africans abroad and those back home to develop the continent.
“It is important that we walk together. If the Chinese, Indians, Asians are investing in Africa, why aren’t we in America?
“We have a powerful group in this hall this afternoon. At the end of this session we need to work together to develop the continent; that is your region, that is your home.
“We have a programme that welcomes you; it is an economic connection, it is a spiritual connection, it is an emotional connection, a physical connection, it is a deep connection.
“That connection must be developed, it must be strengthened within the continent of Africa and between our brothers and sisters in the diaspora,” Erewa was quoted by the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) to have said.
Malcolm X, who was assassinated in New York on Feb. 21, 1965, is remembered for his radical beliefs in black self-determination and empowerment.
Among others, he strongly believed that black people were not only superior to the whites but were the original people of the world.
Speaking in that vein, Sadipe dismissed the notion of white supremacy, arguing that Africa is already recording firsts in science and technology before the incursion of the colonialists.
“Africa is not just a place of mud huts and unintelligent people. Africans are intelligent people.
“The first eye surgery was done in Africa, in Timbuktu. So many firsts were done in Africa.
“It is important that we break that narrative, that narrative of who we are, and go back to the true narrative of our forefathers,” she said.
The lawmaker urged Nigerians and other Africans in the diaspora to return home and invest in the continent for its growth and development.
On his part, Okoyen described Africa as the next business and investment destination of the world.
“As the Consul General in New York, the signs I get in my engagements and interactions with people here are showing that everyone is going back to Africa.
The event featured the premier of a film titled “Badagry: The Joy of Return” by award winning Nigerian documentary filmmaker, Ronke Macaulay.
The 15-minute documentary film is about the journey of an American delegation to Badagry, a coastal town in Lagos State.
From the 16th century to 1886 when slave trade was abolished, Badagry served as a port of exit for indigenes who were sold into slavery.