Saturday, May 22, 2010

Pan African Breakfast Meeting, May 22

The Pan African Summit planning committee met again today, at the Center for Families. We have been meeting once a month, preparing for the Pan African Summit, scheduled for October 9, 2010. I have written again and again about the first Summit, the memory of which is indelibly stamped in the minds of all who attended.

The Summit planning committee feels obliged to keep the torch burning, mobilizing the people for the second Summit and the work that lies ahead, beyond the Summit. That is the purpose of our monthly breakfast meetings. As we head towards the Summit, we have used these meetings to learn about various issues pertaining to the Pan African community in Africa and in the Diaspora.

Today we found ourselves spending most of the time exploring the different realities and mentalities of Africans and African Americans. It was a thoughtful and drawn-out conversation, which revealed the hidden truths about how different the experience and the mindset of Africans is compared to that of African Americans.

Today's meeting was like a mini-summit of Africans and African Americans. Seen in the photos, from left to right, are Gerald Montgomery (USA), Joseph L. Mbele (Tanzania), Edmund Ocansey (Ghana), and Eugene Dix (USA), who had led one of our meetings, reported here. Edmund and I shared our African experience and perspective, and Gerald and Eugene explained the African American experience and reality. I was particularly struck by the eloquent and profound account Gerald and Eugene gave of the psychological barriers that African Americans deal with on the road to self-fulfillment and success, barriers that, in my view, Africans don't even imagine, let alone understand.

As I sat there, listening to Gerald and Eugene, I told myself that no book I have read has taught me so much about the African American psyche. I realized how much work we need to do to make the Africans and African Americans knowledgeable about, and fluent in, each other's reality. I am using the word "fluent" purposefully, for our very lives and experience are a form of language. Learning about each other is like learning and mastering a language, in the deepest sense of that concept.

We did not say much about the Summit, but we noted that our plans are on track. As the Summit planning committee, we felt that through our discussions today, we had done important work of clarifying and solidifying our understanding and our vision. If we could share this kind of exploration and these kinds of insights during the Summit, we would have gone a long way towards achieving our goals.

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