Credit: Bill Moore photo

“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..”

When in 2017, HE Dr. Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma, asked Dr. Arikana Chihombori-Quao to become the African Union Ambassador to the U.S., she probably did not know what the former colonial usurpers of the African continent were in for…or perhaps she did. In the second part of the exclusive one-on-one interview with the Amsterdam News, the ambassador continued to lay out her game plan for then and now.

Chihombori-Quao, a mother of five and grandmother was shocked by the request. After all, she said, her expertise lay in her being a dedicated medical doctor in the U.S. for 29 years. She was the CEO and founder of Bell Family Medical Centers before Zuma made a completely unexpected request of her: to represent Africa’s 55 countries. Zimbabwean by heritage, but Pan African by thought and action, Chihombori-Quao wasted no time in challenging centuries-long negative dominance of Western nations in Africa. Her demands that Africans should acknowledge and stop the hemorrhaging of resources and money from the continent and into Western governments, businesses, individuals and satellites, led to her being unceremoniously removed from her position on Oct. 7, 2019. She said that the move did not shock her, but, the subsequent massive global Black support for her actions did.

The Amsterdam News asked if she thought that she has inspired so many outside of her original calling.

“When I came to Washington the doctor in me was still with me,” she said. “I honestly believe that I went through a process of assessing and scanning my environment, trying to understand. First it was the disrespect that was just blatant.

From who to who?

“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 the sign but the Africans sign.”

Asked why is that, the ambassador said, “Because there is a white man sitting in front of them. But that is all part of our legacy of slavery and colonization. It has to change.”

Will that change? “I think we are past talking; we just need to grab the baseball and whack each other into sense.”

Despite the massive vested interest to keep Africa in its current state, the ambassador remains optimistic that a change is definitely going to come.

“We are going to empower them too. We are speaking to everyone saying, ‘enough is enough.’ So, what I did when I came to Washington was to pretty much just diagnose the problem. When I would address the African Americans and the continental Africans I began to see the level of ignorance. Which before I was not quite aware of. The first thing I realized was that every time I finished speaking the first question invariably would be, ‘But, ambassador the African leaders are corrupt.’ And I would tell them about the 50 billion, according to the corruption watchdogs, the 50 billion [is taken] out of Africa every year from corruption. I get that, that’s a lot of money. We need to stop, we need to fight corruption, but at the same time my question was ‘Where is the outrage with France?’ One little bitty country taking over 500 billion out of Africa year in, year out. Why are you so outraged by 50 billion of the whole continent versus 500 billion from a little bitty country. That’s actual cash that is before all the businesses. The companies that are in these countries have first right of refusal, natural resources discovered, and yet to be discovered oil, and yet to be discovered…and all the major contracts. Where is your outrage over all of that? Then I realized, they didn’t know. They didn’t know. That’s when I said, ‘Okay, now this is where we need to start.’ They must know, because once you know then you realize that you have been fighting this war from the wrong front?. That you are in the Titanic, it is sinking. You can change a leader today, but until the environment is changed the next leader is going to be subjected to the same stressors. So the issue is not the heads of state. Some of them could be a problem, but they are not the biggest problem.”

The paper asked, what is the biggest problem?

“The colonizers and their continued struggle,” she replied. “They are still holding the economy.”

Chihombori-Quao’s solution seems simple enough, “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…It’s all about finances. See if we pull our monies together… you see that is how the Chinese did it, that’s how the Jews are doing it. There is only 15 million Jews in the world, and yet they are the most powerful people. Why? because they pool their monies together. It is not about the money in Israel, it is about Jewish money outside of Israel.”

Asked if she would ever run for president, the ambassador gave a hearty laugh and replied?

“No. I think if I can deliver the African diaspora to Africa, my job is done on Earth.”

The African diaspora has the people, the knowledge, the ability and the skill-set to reclaim power on the continent, she said,

“For example, the Atlanta airport. Black businesses are being run by a majority of Black people. The biggest airport in the world––the busiest in the world, the most well run airport in the world. Black people. Why can’t we have the rest of the airports in Africa being built by Black people? So we have to organize. Once we organize, which is what I have done, African Diaspora Development Institute is now going to be the one-stop shop for everything diaspora in the world.

We are now reaching out to the heads of states and saying, ‘No more excuses.’ The building of the Africa we want that must be driven by the Africans, and here are the children of Africa here in the diaspora. That is why I want everyone to sign up. I want a directory that is exhaustive, so when we say that these are the opportunities we flood them out––companies that are in that––we talk about collaborations, because everything we are talking about is at a massive scale, and so we want everybody to be a shareholder. While you are a shareholder, you can also be an employee, or you can also be a contractor. So we are registering a fund, the fund is the one funding the projects in Africa, but there needs to be a shareholder of that fund.”

Ambassador Chihombori-Quao told the Amsterdam News that her ideas are immediately actionable, “The website for this is OurADDI.com. And we urge everybody to go to the website and sign up, stand up and be counted, through that website we are going to start messaging and letting everybody know.

“But in the meantime conversations have already started with African governments to say the diaspora is coming and the diaspora is ready to come home, and we need you to start giving us the first right of refusal for every contract coming out of your countries.”