On Oct. 7, the AU notified Dr. Arikana Chihombori-Quao, the African Union’s ambassador to the United States, that her services would no longer be needed.
Her sudden removal has been covered in the Black international press and all over social media, for a couple of weeks, and the outrage has been palpable.
The abrupt dismissal of another ambassador has many in the African diaspora up in arms.
Located in Addis Ababa, the African Union is an organization consisting of 55 African countries. Founded in May 2001 to replace the Organization of African States, one of AU’s stated goals is “to establish the necessary conditions which enable the continent to play its rightful role in the global economy and in international negotiations.”
H.E. Moussa Faki Mahamat, chair of the AU, wrote Chihombori-Quao a letter stating: “I have the honor to inform you that, in line with the terms and conditions of the service governing your appointment as Permanent Representative of the African Union Mission to the United States in Washington, D.C., I have decided to terminate your contract in that capacity with effect from Nov. 1, 2109.”
But no reason was given as to why Chihombori-Quao was being dismissed.
The AU has ignored countless inquiries as to the reasoning behind the dismissal, but her supporters say they know why the organization wanted her gone. Her strong stance against former colonial powers who still prey upon Africa to this day.
Supporters such as Jerry Rawlings, the former president of Ghana who, upon learning of her dismissal tweeted: “The dismissal of Arikana Chihombori-Quao, AU ambassador to the United States raises serious questions about the independence of the AU.
“For someone who spoke her mind about the detrimental effects of colonization and the huge cost of French control in several parts of Africa, this is an act that can best be described as coming from French-controlled colonized-minds.”
Dr. Leonard Jeffries, long time Pan-Africanist and former professor of Black Studies at the City University of New York, agreed. “She spoke too much truth. That was it. She exposed too much, and it became too real.”
When Jeffries, uncle to U.S. Rep. Hakeem Jeffries, heard the AU was spreading rumors about Dr. Chihombori-Quao in an attempt to justify the dismissal he simply scoffed.
“She’s a woman of integrity who has money in her own right. She’s not stealing money to buy some Gucci bag.”
Dr. Chihombori-Quao lived the early part of her life in Zimbabwe, but emigrated to the U.S. in 1977. There she earned a master’s degree in general chemistry, a degree in organic chemistry, and a medical degree from Meharry Medical College in Nashville, Tennessee. She moved to New York City and practiced medicine for three years, before returning to Murfreesboro, Tennessee to become founder and CEO of Bell Family Medical Centers.
After joining the AU in 2012, Chihombori-Quao became the international chair of the African Union-Diaspora African Forum Americas. In this capacity she advocates for Africans and friends of Africa to participate in the development of Africa.
In 2016 Dr. Chihombori-Quao reluctantly accepted the position as permanent ambassador in the United States. In an interview with the news site Al Jazeera shortly after her appointment she said she saw her mandate as “promoting Africa in the Americas and more importantly, to mobilize the African diaspora—meaning all people of African descent living outside of Africa.” In that interview she also stated: “What bothers me is the realization that the richest continent on Earth is the poorest. Our raw materials leaving Africa creates employment for the world and we consume the things we send out.”
The interview was a portent of things to come. Dr. Chihombori-Quao became an outspoken critic of European countries using agreements reached in the Berlin Conference to keep a stranglehold on former African nations.
France was one of her frequent targets. According to Dr. Chihombori-Quao France collects an annual $500 billion in colonial taxes, and continues to hold tight control over the governance of many of its former colonies.
In a speech that she gave at the HBCU Africa Homecoming Media Launch in June, she even went as far as to say: “You may ask why African leaders haven’t done anything about this deplorable situation but let me tell you, my brothers and sisters, they have tried.” Dr. Chihombori-Quao then paused to add: “It is documented to this day that in the 22 coups where leaders were assassinated, France had something to do with it.”
With presentations such as this, she excited a lot of young people both in Africa and around the world, and developed a loyal following of Pan-Africanists.
“We are all one people. Don’t let an African ever tell an African American that he is more African,” she said at a National Newspaper Publishers Association meeting earlier this year. “We are all in this Titanic together.”
So when she was notified of her upcoming dismissal, and made it public, many people were outraged.
Just last week a petition was put up calling for the AU to dismiss her dismissal.
“People of African Descent around the world are appalled by Dr. Chihombori-Quao’s unjust dismissal. Instead of dismantling her movement to liberate the people of African descent from colonialism and pursue financial freedom, her dismissal has galvanized African diaspora in the spirit of UBUNTU—I am because you are!” The petition says in part.
“She is the best thing that has happened to us, and her fight is our fight,” Jeffries said forcefully.