Special to USAfrica magazine (Houston) and USAfricaonline.com, the first Africa-owned, US-based newspaper published on the Internet.
You really don’t have to look too far to understand why the United States of America has remained the most productive and wealthiest country in the world.
I believe that its capacity for openness and receptiveness to new ideas are vital to its material success.
Second, its willingness to engage persons from other cultures to contribute to the business juggernaut and strength of the country.
These points, in no way, ignore or minimize, the realities and brutalities of racism and other acts of systemic injustices. It is, therefore, understandable why one of the greatest Presidents of the United States, Theodore Roosevelt (1858-1919), stated: “Americanism is a question of principle, of purpose, of idealism, of character. It is not a matter of birthplace or creed or line of descent.”
In my USAfrica column for the first Friday of November 2020, titled “The rise of Nigerian-Americans from November 2020 elections”, I expressed respect and appreciation for the facts that the November 3, 2020 presidential and congressional elections in the United States continue to show aspects of the beauty of its recent democratic traditions. Especially the opportunity it gives to recent immigrants — required to be citizens of the United States regardless of where they come from — to compete in the civic battle of ideas.
It is also within that context that I commend the latest outreach to the African communities in the United States by President Joseph Biden who was sworn in as the 46th President of the United States on Wednesday, January 20, 2021. He was born on November 20, 1942, elected and served in the U.S Senate 1973 to 2009. He wanted several Nigerian-American and African professionals into high levels of government.
For the African continent, the Biden approach of mutual respect, consideration and constructive dialogue are opening on many fronts. Although there are some disagreements on social cultural matters. Overall, it is certainly a remarkable difference from the condescension, name calling and disregard of Africa and its people by former President Donald Trump.
It is from this progression that Chiney Ogwumike, U.S basketball analyst for ESPN and WNBA star, was nominated a few days on September 26, 2023 to serve on a new presidential advisory council on African Diaspora Engagement in the United States. The Council will be responsible for “promoting trade, investment, and educational exchanges” between the United States and African countries. The White House announcement stated that the Council will “enhance dialogue” between political figures and African Diaspora residents to “reinforce cultural, social, political and economic ties” between the United States and Africa.
Chiney Ogwumike is one of the daughters of Nigerian immigrants, computer technologies specialist, Peter Ogwumike and top-notch school administrator, Ify Ogwumike. Peter and Ify are my friends.
Rev. Dr. Silvester Beaman of the African Methodist Episcopal Church is the chairman of the 12-person council. He is the Presiding Prelate of the Fifteenth Episcopal District serving in South Africa, Namibia, and Angola. Also, appointed to the council are Oscar-winning actress Viola Davis. “Davis has earned EGOT status through her Oscar, Emmy, Grammy, and multi-Tony Award wins. She was honored in 2017 by Time 100 as one of the world’s most influential people and, in 2022, was honored with the Public Counsel’s William O. Douglas Award for her commitment to social justice causes.”
The full list of members of the Council for the 2023-2025 term are:
- Silvester Scott Beaman of Delaware
- Mimi E. Alemayehou of Washington, D.C.
- Rosalind Brewer of Georgia
- Viola Davis of Rhode Island
- Helene D. Gayle of Georgia
- Patrick Hubert Gaspard of New York
- C.D. Glin of Connecticut
- Osagie Imasogie of Pennsylvania
- Almaz Negash of California
- Chinenye Joy Ogwumike of Texas
- Ham K. Serunjogi of California
- Kevin Young of Washington, D.C.
It is important to underscore the position of the Biden White House on this issue where it stated that “The African Diaspora in the United States, a rich and diverse community of African Americans and African immigrants, is foundational to our 21st century partnership with Africa. This community, which includes descendants of enslaved Black Americans, has long advocated for the prosperity of the African continent and its people, and strengthened the unique relationship between the United States and Africa.”
The 12 members were appointed by the U.S Secretary of State, and they are said to “represent the diversity of the African Diaspora from African American communities around the United States and African immigrant communities across the continent and the Caribbean….. They will provide invaluable guidance to reinforce cultural, social, political, and economic ties between the U.S. and Africa, and promote trade, investment, and educational exchanges between the United States and Africa.”
As a non-sentimental analyst of the “Games Nations Play”, I do know that the U.S will use this initiative as a counter-weight in its enlarging battles and angles of its fight with Russia and China.
•Dr. Chido Nwangwu, author of the forthcoming 2023 book, MLK, Mandela & Achebe: Power, Leadership and Identity, is Founder of the first African-owned, U.S-based newspaper on the internet, USAfricaonline.com, and established USAfrica in 1992 in Houston.He has appeared as an analyst on CNN, ALJazeera, SKYnews, and served as an adviser on Africa business to Houston’s former Mayor Lee Brown. Follow him on Twitter @Chido247