Thursday, September 9, 2010

The African Leadership Congress Placing New Footprints on the Path to Leadership

By Tony Regusters

A Roman emperor, Scipio Africanus, who brought defeat to Rome’s brilliant and implacable enemy, Hannibal Barca of Carthage, was reputedly the author of this phrase: “Out of Africa, there is always something wonderful…”

Depending on your point of view, Africa and anything African have either been the root of marvelous and wonderful things, or the signature epitome of human suffering. In reality, as with all things bearing on the human factor, the truth is closer to the middle ground than the root or the epitome as stated earlier.

With an appreciation of that reality, a new international organization, the African Leadership Congress, founded in Washington, DC and the State of Maryland, is working to bring the best that Africans, especially Africans in the west, are qualified to offer and bear. Forged from a coalition of Diaspora Africans (defined as any African or descendant of Africa living, working, or studying in the western world), the work of the African Leadership Congress is focused on forging dynamic alliances that will promote new leadership for the ‘Africa of the 21st century’.

“As we look around at the world today, especially the African world, we clearly see that much work still remains to be done, to bring people together in the name of peace and prosperity,” says Rev. Kemi Onanuga, chairperson of the organizing committee of the African Leadership Congress.

Born and raised in the United Kingdom, Rev. Onanuga’s Nigerian heritage, combined with her British pluck and intelligence make her a formidable force for positive change.
“Right now, despite headlines focused on terrible incidents of human cruelty in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and the chaotic social and political mathematics of Sudan and poor tortured Somalia, if one has an eye to see, what that eye would perceive and witness are the positive great changes occurring all across the African continent, including a new interest of the potential blessings derived from Greater Africa connecting with those in the African Diaspora.” It is true, that for the interested and attentive observer, it’s quite clear that we are living in a time of epic political, economic, and social transformation. As the remnants of 20th century thinking and ways of being give way, kicking and screaming, it seems, to the emerging global consciousness of the 21st century, Africans believe the time has come for Africa to rise and shine.

“Here in Maryland, said Daniel Koroma, an aide to Montgomery County Executive Ike
Leggett, and a member of the ALC’s organizing committee, “we’re taking the idea of an African renaissance very seriously. Our own population statistics bear out the fact that many African immigrants in the United States, who as a group represent some of the best educated people in the nation, have an important role to play in the future of Maryland and the nation as a whole. I believe that the African Leadership Congress will stand as the signpost for those of us here in the Diaspora who also wish to give back to the nations of our ancestors.”

That interest includes a new commitment to bridging the gap between Africans and African Americans. “Many Africans, although our own ancestral nations are just a mere 50 years out of the colonial era, are still learning about and becoming more sensitized to the experiences that scar the descendants of Africans in the Americas, whose ancestors were stolen away into slavery,” Rev. Onanuga explained. “This is not our own experience, and it has been something we essentially had to figure out on our own when it came to connecting with or relating to African Americans, and we’ve dedicated an aspect of the ALC’s mission to healing that rift.”

Many Africans see the election of Barack Obama as the first ever African American President of the United States, as a sign from God that America has finally lived up to its credo that “All men are created equal,” and that his inauguration wasn’t only historic for the people of the United States, but also for Africa and other people of color around the world.

“As a professional in global media, heading up a company whose focus is dedicated to rebranding the image of Africa and Africans and the image of Africa in news and entertainment media,” adds Andre Hayes, President and CEO of Montgomery County-based One World New Media, Inc, and vice-chair ALC organizing committee., “I see the African Leadership Congress as a powerful platform for the development of a whole new set of concepts and idea about what it is to be African or African American. Media is and always will be a huge component in any campaign or effort dedicated to uplift people and change minds, for better or worse. We, of course, with the African Leadership Congress, are solidly aiming for the best, better end result…”

There’s no doubt about it, the world is changing at an accelerated rate. African nations and every other nation in the global community, including the United States, have been affected by a debilitating economic crisis not experienced since the 1930’s. Irrespective of that, the founding members of the African Leadership Congress believe this organization can and will play an important role in shepherding brilliant new young leadership onto the world stage, most particularly across Africa and throughout the global African Diaspora.

“On the evening of September 21, 2010, the ALC is presenting an inaugural gala at Washington, DC’s Mandarin Oriental Hotel, at which time we will make our aims very clear. The event will honor several African heads-of-state, such as Liberian President Ellen Sirleaf Johnson, Africa’s first democratically-elected female head-of-state, and Nigeria’s President Goodluck Jonathan, among others. Our primary goal is to guide and mentor Africa’s brilliant future leaders, and today’s young people who have a powerful potential and destiny. As an organization comprised of people who all have a heart for Africa, we fully intend to do our part to midwife the rebirth of Africa,” the ALC’s Rev. Onanuga concluded.

All that can be added to that is the very real hope that there will be some form of spin-off, beyond the ALC’s work for Africa and Africans in the Diaspora that has the same transformational impact on America and the American people – who also, very much, deserve a break.

Tony Regusters is an award-winning TV news producer for Washington, DC area stations, including CNN, WUSA-TV 9 and Black Entertainment Television, where he created the “Teen Summit” program. He is currently the producer and director of the award-winning documentary film “Obama in Ghana: The Untold Story”.

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