Ambassador Arikana Chihombori-Quao, punished by quislings for telling it like it is. Photo: Facebook.
Speaking truth to power can have a heavy cost as the African Union’s ambassador to the United States Arikana Chihombori-Quao has discovered.
The African Union has fired the popular ambassador and told her to pack up her bags by October 31. Her supporters believe it’s because she hasn’t minced words since she took the AU job, constantly denouncing the former European colonial powers for continuing to exploit Africa’s resources. There’s been a swift backlash against the AU from all quarters for terminating the ambassador’s employment.
Former Ghanaian President Jerry Rawlings has tweeted: “The dismissal of Arikana Chihombori-Quao, AU Ambassador to the United States raises serious questions about the independence of the AU. For someone who spoke her mind about the detrimental effects of colonization and the huge cost of French control in several parts of Africa, this is an act that can be described as coming from French-controlled colonized minds. How can this shameful behavior emanate from us? A woman with all that it takes to galvanize our continent is chopped down by French-colonized power mongers good enough to be cleaners or pruning trees at the Elysee Palace. With leaders of this kind, how can this continent ever progress?”
A petition on change.org demanding that Ambassador Chihombori-Quao be reinstated has already garnered 18,160 signatures.
Ambassador Chihombori-Quao isn’t one of those who believes that the solution to Africa’s economic dependency and widespread impoverishment of its citizens rests with Europe, the United States or any other segment of the industrialized world. She’s a fierce advocate of doing for self–embracing the lessons of Marcus Garvey and Kwame Nkrumah and uniting Africans everywhere to pool financial resources for developing the continent.
Her advocacy for stronger cooperation between Diaspora Africans and the continent reminds many of an earlier era in the 1960s when Malcolm X made several trips to Africa to forge such collaboration. Malcolm was monitored by U.S. intelligence during his trips as the establishment knew well the tremendous positive impact that strong relations between Africa and the Diaspora would have for both sides.
I’m happy to declare that as a Pan African I support ambassador Chihombori-Quao and like thousands of others who’ve already signed the petition, demand that her termination be reversed.
These are some of the questions that ambassador Chihombori-Quao–and we Pan Africans–pose. Given the continent’s abundant resources why should Africans wait for someone else to help develop the continent? Why should Africa let others use the continent’s resources to create wealth and prosperity for their own citizens and not for Africans? Why can’t Africans on the continent and in the Diaspora pool their resources and even create a bank that can accumulate vast amounts of money to finance development projects throughout Africa?
Commercial farming, ecologically friendly tourism, first class medical facilities that rival any of the major ones around the world, infrastructure, industrial enterprises in Africa using the continent’s resources–these are some of the projects that Ambassador Chihombori-Quao has spoken about at various institutions in the United States including colleges, business organizations, Pan-African organizations, churches and other establishments.
I had the pleasure to meet Ambassador Chihombori-Quao and hear her deliver an inspiring and empowering presentation for the first time on August 22, 2018 at one of the quarterly meetings hosted by the Pan African Unity Dialogue (PAUD) in New York City hosted by Dr. Ron Daniels, President and Founder of the Institute of the Black World 21st Century. This peerless Pan African talked about the need for a global diaspora bank that would fund African development. I was one of several who asked her right on the spot where and when we could start making our deposits. The second time was when I appeared with Ambassador Chihombori-Quao together on a panel at Delaware State University (DSU) in April 2019. This Pan African gathering was hosted by DSU’s Professor Ezrah Aharone to explore how Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) can help promote the Sixth Region of the African Union. Ambassador Chihombori-Quao later appeared that same day on a second panel at DSU, shown here.
There’s been speculation that Ambassador Chihombori-Quao’s immediate woes stem from her attack on the current neocolonial relationship imposed by France on its former African colonies. The currencies of several former West African French colonies are tied to the French Franc. This means these countries really don’t control their finances, their economies, and their destiny.
Why should they even be called “independent” countries? Just because they have their own national anthems and flags? Was that the reason why the African masses sacrificed for Uhuru? Many of these so-called “presidents” actually act like the former European governors, fulfilling the interests of Europe. Many are “president” only in name.
Many of these rulers are still also mentally colonized. When there is a disaster in Europe, such as the fire that destroyed the Notre Dame cathedral on April 15, 2019 many are quick to shed tears and some like Morocco’s Mohammed VI even donated money for the restoration effort. Yet, when a disaster occurs in Africa, such as the cataclysmic floods that devastated Mozambique, Malawi and Zimbabwe, few of them offered sympathy, financial support or relief. When Ebola struck Sierra Leone, Guinea and Liberia in 2014, Cuba was on the front-line to offer assistance before many African countries.
Africa has a neocolonial dependency relationship with all the former colonial powers who built their wealth off the resources of Africa. Europe had a simple formula for development: plunder Africa’s mineral and natural wealth, exploit labor, and compel Africans to consume manufactured products from Europe. After Europeans began seizing territory in Africa in the 19th century the powers of the day met at Berlin in 1884 to formalize the partition. Africa became a large plantation for cheap labor and resources.
Today, 135 years after Berlin, in 2019, Africa remains a plantation for Europe, the United States, and now China. Africa still exports raw materials, just as in 1884, and imports manufactured products. No country or continent can develop under such dependency relations.
These are the critical issues Ambassador Chihombori-Quao talks about. She wants Africans to pool their resources and use the capital to economically liberate Africa. This is not a new vision, it was articulated by Nkrumah and earlier by Garvey. Nkrumah famously said the independence of Ghana was meaningless unless it was followed by the liberation of all of Africa and then followed by continental unity.
In his excellent book, Neocolonialism The Last Stage of Imperialism, Nkrumah warned that unless Africa united the continent would not be able to protect its sovereignty and use its riches to industrialize. The former colonial powers would use other Africans to undermine those who promoted Pan African unity and development.
“The essence of neo-colonialism is that the State which is subject to it is, in theory, independent and has all the outward trappings of international sovereignty,” Nkrumah warned. “In reality its economic system and thus its political policy is directed from outside.” This is precisely what we see today.
Nkrumah’s book was published in 1965. He was overthrown by the military reportedly with CIA involvement in 1966. Many Africans who have advocated Pan African unity have been assassinated, including Congo’s Patrice Lumumba and Burkina Faso’s Thomas Sankara. The West then imposed two bandits, Mobutu Sese Seko as dictator in Congo for 37 years, and Blaise Compaoré for 27 years in Burkina Faso after he killed Sankara.
Ambassador Chihombori-Quao has gained widespread attention and support because Africans know that the message of Pan African collaboration that she carries–in the tradition of Garvey, Nkrumah, and Malcolm–is the key to Africa’s liberation.
Africans must stand with Ambassador Chihombori-Quao in this just battle. We must not allow other Africans serving foreign masters to betray this fearless African.
Start by signing and sharing the petition that calls for Ambassador Chihombori-Quao’s termination letter to be rescinded.
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