Saturday, March 19, 2011

Pan African Organization Meeting

We had another Pan African Organization meeting today, at the Center for Families. As in the past, today's meeting brought together Africans and African Americans, sharing ideas and experiences. Edmund Ocansey had sent our announcements stating that the focus of this meeting would be African politics and culture. That theme appears to have touched people, as it became clear during the meeting.

We did not get to this topic right away. First we had lunch, in the course of which we started talking about ourselves, introducing ourselves to the rest of the group and talking about why we are in this group.

That was Edmund's way of starting the meeting. It got people talking about their experiences, concerns and dreams in relation to Pan Africanism.

People shared inspiring experiences and ideas, and I can only mention a few. We talked about the need to educate ourselves, learn about people, understand them, truly understand them.

The gentleman on the left said he feels he has a lot in his spirit to give to others. He wants to make a positive difference in people's lives, in someone's life, without judging that person.

This sister, originally from Togo, said she was keen to learn about the African heritage and Pan Africanism. She talked about her association with the Pan-African Women's Philanthropy Network and announced that this organization will host a conference in August.

The brother on the left, in the black shirt, talked about his visits to Ghana, a country which is very special to him. He shared a delightful personal story: how he found out, through DNA testing, that he has Igbo ancestry.

He encourages African Americans to venture out as he is doing, and explore Africa, because of the opportunities there.

At that point I shared some thoughts I have gained from my friend Professor Baruti Katembo about the need for African Americans and Africans to come together in order to explore and utilize the resources each group possesses and represents, for mutual benefit.

The gentleman seen writing on the left spoke about the need for African Americans to learn about their history in order to correct the narrow perspective that focuses solely or predominantly on the experience of slavery.

Telling African Americans only that they were slaves limits their perspective and conditions them to behave in certain ways. A broader view of their history will help them to acquire more positive self-concepts and assume new roles which will earn them respect.

The two ladies seen here are members of the board of the Pan African Organization. They came on board recently, bringing fresh energy and perspectives. On the right is Shatona Kilgore-Groves, founder of the Black Parent Group, and author of A Black Parent's Memoir, Vol 1.

As I have noted, this is only a sampling of what people shared. After all this, we got to the main item of the agenda. Edmund Ocansey gave a talk highlighting aspects of Ghana from independence to the present day. He focused on the political and cultural landscape.

I talked about cultural issues affecting Africans in the diaspora. I gave the example of Faribault, where long term residents and Somali immigrants are struggling with cultural challenges. I mentioned my presentations on cultural diversity to companies, churches, schools, colleges, and community groups.

Mindful of what everyone has said about the need to learn about ourselves, I mentioned that I record folklore and interpret it, to reveal the thoughts and values of our people. I showed my two books, Africans and Americans: Embracing Cultural Differences and Matengo Folktales.

Whenever I attend the meetings of the Pan African Organization, I feel I am in a classroom where I broaden my horizons. I appreciate the opportunity to extend my social network.

1 comment:

Buertey said...