Although left out or ignored in the current presidential campaigns, Africans in Diaspora last week sought to add their voices in democratic governance processes in the United States. The Channel: CMPI-produced documentary on the civic pariticipation of Africans in the United States.
The gathering of Africans in America at 115 Street New York Public Library for the premiere of America votes without Africa provided an instant platform for Diaspora Africans to discuss their potential value to civic participation in the United States.
Welcoming guests to the events, the Director, Diaspora Strategies & Engagement at the Center for Media & Peace Initiatives (CMPI) Mr. Ernest Opong stated that “this premiere of the documentary was one of the very few attempts to authenticate the significance of the African community’s involvement in the political process in our chosen environments here in the United States”.
Mr. Opong noted that CMPI was committed to supporting initiatives designed to engage the media in discussing issues important to all Diasporas in this country as a vehicle for democratic change around the world.
The documentary, Mr. Opong said, plays the dual roles of addressing the inherent political power of African immigrants and also to educate Africans in America about their electoral potential in the United States.
In his speech, the center’s Director of International Programs, Mr. Francisco Bozzano-Barnes spoke of the importance of the voices of Africans living in the United States of America adding that they could produce international and national benefits.
In the words of Mr. Bozzano-Barnes: “ CMPI established the Diaspora Media Forum to engage all diasporas in the United States, promoting similar efforts around the world to help the US guide the world out of a constant clash among civilizations. Mr. Bozzano-Barnes announced that CMPI produced the documentary- America votes without Africa to enrich public debate at a time when the United States is renewing its leadership.
The President of CMPI, Dr. Uchenna Ekwo used the occasion to remind policy makers in the United States that the current focus on Latino and Jewish electorate was the wrong path because Africans in America as different from Black African- Americans are growing in numbers.
Dr. Ekwo expressed the hope that the documentary, the first of its kind, would stimulate the civic engagement of Africans in America with the objective of participating in the shaping US policies towards Africa.
After the screening of the 45 minute documentary, Mr. Patrick Ngagoum, CMPI’s associate Director of Digital Communications, Mr. Ernest Opong, Mr. Francisco Bozzano-Barnes, and Dr. Uchenna Ekwo fielded questions from guests.
An engaging conversation ensued following comments by Dr. David Ofori of the Center for Ortho-Sports & Industrial Rehabilitation, New York. The conversation centered on the lack of cohesion between African immigrants on one hand and Black Americans on the other.
Whereas Ali Deen, an African American argued that African immigrants lacked the potency to change the disregard of the political elites in the United States just like Black Americans are ignored in the scheme of things, others pointed to institutionalized racism in the country.
However, Rashida Bright, an activist and Sierra Leonean- American maintained that African immigrants should not fold their hands or throw their hands in the air and wait for anyone to solve their problems. “You have to fight your way through” she said.
Bright was responding to comments from award-wining Marie Claudine of Why – Do – I – Exist organization on best strategies for Africans in America to access the opportunities that abound in the United States.