Day 13: Winter Blogging Challenge
Dear readers, I would like to introduce you to a powerful, dynamic woman named Dr Arikana Chihombori Quao. She is the notable African personality I would like to meet.
She was born in Zimbabwe and moved to the United States where she studied medicine. She is the former African Union (AU) Ambassador to the United States. She is a public speaker, educator, diplomat, founder of medical clinics, and an entrepreneur. She is passionate about Africa, particularly Africa’s relationship with the West, Africans in the diaspora and how they are treated everywhere. Passionate and inspiring are the words I can use to describe Dr Chihombori Quao.
As an AU Ambassador, she managed to bring together the African diaspora, countering the divisions among Africans. The idea of the African Continental Free Trade Area was part of her agenda when she was at the African Union. She pushes the message that Africans should be at the forefront of their development agenda and that we cannot find non-Africans leading our development agenda while we are there. The Organisation of African Unity (OAU) in 1963 started the idea of Pan-Africanism, which essentially means that the peoples of African descent have common interests and should be unified. It is a political and cultural movement that we should all be interested in.
“The average person––you and I––are the people who can rescue Africa, the people of Africa and the African diaspora. Let’s pool together our resources..” Dr Arikana Chihombori Quao
I would like to meet her because she bravely challenged former colonial powers during her time at the AU, which is something most African leaders do not dare to do. She exposed the Western colonial powers such as France for siphoning billions from Africa and she called for Africans to wake up and see how they continued to enrich their colonisers. France has collected approximately 500 billion as tax each year from its former colonies and yet they say Africa is a poor continent. How do they still benefit from such huge amounts of money from a poor continent? Our colonisers never left Africa. In 2019 she was dismissed from her position as AU Ambassador because the powers that be saw her as a threat.
I admire her tenacity and courage. I concur with most of her statements about how Africans are treated globally and I wish that all who aspire to be leaders in our continent will learn from her. Here is one quote from her after her dismissal from the AU talking about what inspired her to speak out:
“Disrespect for the Africans in general, as a people. Africans would come for various meetings with various government officials and non-government officials. There was this total disregard for anything that they were saying. As I got to make friends in those various departments, they would say they would make policy and what we say doesn’t matter, that we go to Africa, with our documents already drawn, pages to sign, folded. They also say talk to your people; we go there we lowball Africa all the time––and tell them not to sign but the Africans sign.”
Dr Arikana is one of the few African leaders who spoke out about the racism and discrimination happening against Africans in China recently, something that Presidents who have citizens in this country were silent about. Africans in China were being forcefully evicted from their homes, forced into quarantine even if they did not test positive for COVID-19 and being refused services, including not being allowed to enter public shopping malls and markets. You can read more about it HERE. This is a subject I am passionate about because I personally experienced racism and discrimination in Hong Kong.
She says that the lack of knowledge about our own issues as Africans and our history is the problem we have as Africans. There is a lot of apathy in the African community and I agree. If I were to meet Dr Arikana, I would commend her on being the odd one out. She did not mind standing out and angering the powers that be to share her message for Africa. She is still busy mobilising the African diaspora to build the Africa that we want and she will not be stopping any time soon. I have so much to ask her about how she juggles motherhood, being a medical doctor, working with the African diaspora in the US, running businesses and all that she does. She inspires me to own my African identity and represent it in the work that I do. I am proud that she is also from Zimbabwe, which gives hope for young people in Zimbabwe to know that they too, can do so much for themselves.
Hope my introduction inspires you to know one of Africa’s great minds in this century.