The Constituency for Africa (CFA) convened a meeting of Diaspora leaders to meet with the new African Union Commission Chairperson, Dr. Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, on Thursday evening in downtown Washington.
This visit to Washington is the first for Dr. Dlamini-Zuma since assuming the post as the Chairperson, following a hotly contested battle with the long-time incumbent, Ambassador Jean Ping of Gabon. She is the first woman to head the African Union.
The meeting was chaired by the President of the Constituency for Africa, Melvin Foote, and included a number of high-profiled Diaspora leaders including Dr. Julius Garvey, the son of the legendary Marcus A. Garvey, Mike Williams, formerly the Chief of Staff for Congressman Jim McDermott (D-WA), and the author of the land-mark, African Growth and Opportunity Act, Jeannine Scott, the President of the US - Angola Chamber of Commerce, and Maryamu Aminu of the ONE campaign.
The principal agenda item for the discussion was the "Role of the Diaspora in Support of Africa's Development". Dr. Dlamini-Zuma went into considerable detail on prospects and possibilities for Diaspora engagement in all aspects of Africa's development including governance, trade, technology transfer and political lobbying in western capitals like Washington, DC. She also spoke about plans to vigorously follow-up on the African Union's Diaspora Summit that took place in South Africa in May of this year. She said her commitment towards engaging Diaspora goes back during her time as the Foreign Minister of South Africa.
Dr. Dlamini-Zuma said that she fully recognizes the power and potential that the Diaspora holds for Africa and for African people. Other topics covered in the meeting included civil strife in Mali, Sudan and the Democratic Republic of the Congo, the challenge of youth unemployment, agricultural development on the continent, strategies for building economic and political unity in Africa and globally, and the direction for US - Africa policy.
Melvin Foote was pleased with the meeting with the new African Union Commission Chairperson. Said Foote, "It is well known in Africa and elsewhere that Dr. Dlamni-Zuma is a person who works hard and gets things done! I think she is absolutely the right person for the job at the right time!"