Tuesday, May 21, 2024


African Americans and Africa: The Time To Help Is Now

June 3, 2007 by  
Filed under News, Weekly Columns

(Akiit.com) It seems that Africa is once again becoming important. There has been a subtle shift in focus on issues concerning Africa. From the genocide in Darfur, to South Africa’s triumphs and struggles as it builds a new country free of the burdens of apartheid, to cracking down on the conflict diamond trade, and the growing concern about the political instability in many of the developing countries on the African continent.

There are both economic and strategic reasons for this interest. One is the large amount of untapped natural resources that the rest of the world needs to run their industrial engines, i.e. Oil, and the growing influence of the Peoples Republic of China in the region. China’s increased presence and influence makes the U.S. and it’s allies very nervous. Some believe that China has been able to gain a foothold because of the willful neglect by the United States and it’s allies to the complex and unique problems faced on the continent.

This is a special and very important time in the relationship between the U.S. and the countries that make up the continent. The nature of the relationship between African Americans and native-born Africans is a complex one. Both sides look at each other with both admiration and distrust. Regardless of these conflicting feelings, the future of Africa is important to the future of African Americans. In the global world we live in now, our futures are tied together.

Clearly, the major issues and conflicts in Africa are issues that our country will be dealing with now, and in the future. At this time in our history, the United States is very interested in what happens in Africa.

Many times folks have talked of going back or helping the brothers and sisters in Mother Africa. History has shown that without resources and the influence needed to make it happen, it cannot and will not happen. Times are changing. With increased political and economic power, the African American community is poised to begin to exert influence in a region that they hold close to the heart. On Capitol Hill, Rep. Donald Payne (D-NJ), Chairman of the Subcommittee on Africa and Global Health of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs, has consistently over the years pushed for more investment not only in the infrastructure, but also in Africa’s most important resource, it’s people.

On the economic front, influential African American businessman, Robert L. Johnson recently led a delegation of business leaders to Liberia. Their purpose was to engage the newly elected President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf on issues of economic development and opportunities in her country. His trip signals an important and symbolic moment in the relationship with between Liberia and the United States. Mr. Johnson is a very successful and astute businessman, with the vision, influence, and resources to make a difference in Liberia and the entire continent. His efforts should serve as an inspiration and a call to arms to be more aware and involved both politically and economically in the plight of Mother Africa.

African Americans have consistently looked for ways to stay involved and help solve the issues and problems of Africa. The time to help is now; we must hear and answer the call.

By Leroy Jones, Jr.


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