The African Union invited the African Diaspora to join it in determining the future of the African continent. That future will include becoming the Union of African States or the United States of Africa—that is, the current 55 African countries being organized as one nation of 55 federated states. That invitation was given in 2003, almost 8 years ago. To date, no single organization, or organizations in combination, has been able to accept that definition. Part of the reason for that, in fact a very big part of why that invitation is still unheeded, is the habitual tradition of Black organizations not sticking together and not collectivizing. With approximately 15,000 African oriented organizations and groups within the broad range of the African Diaspora—approximately 300 million people scattered over 90 different countries—the AU has been reluctant to bring any of them in, since those left out would surely complain vociferously.

There were many, many meetings, and just as many resolutions and promises to get something done. They all came to naught, and the invitation just hung there, waiting.

Then, in December, 2011, Ambassador Amina S. Ali, the principal AU representative in the USA, called together a Unity Symposium in Washington, D.C. The discussions there got very serious, but no real decisions were made. Thus, elements of the USA African Diaspora contingent decided to follow-through with that gathering by calling forth a definitive group of diverse organizations to form and establish a North American African Diaspora Unity Council to directly address the AU on behalf of the African descendants in this region, and to provide a roadmap for others on Central America, South America, parts of the Caribbean, Europe, and other parts of the Diaspora to follow suit.

A call was put out publicly, through the Internet, phone, FACEBOOK, etc., for those interested in the AU-African Diaspora engagement to attend a large, decision-making gathering on January 28, 2012 at Howard University. Ten years ago, Howard University had also been the site for the first major African Diaspora meeting, including members of the AU, to discuss methods of involving the African Diaspora in the effort to establish a United States of Africa/Union of African States.

That meeting helped in convincing the AU Executive Council to recommend Article 3(q) as an amendment to the AU Constitutive Act. That amendment invited the African Diaspora to join the AU. It is therefore fitting that Howard University again be the site for the next major advancement in that 21st century Pan African process.



See also: Slavery in Colombia

“Fiesta in Palenque” traditional African Colombian dance from San Basilio de Palenque, a former enclave, now considered by the UNESCO a Masterpieces of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity.

Africans were taken to Colombia as slaves in the beginning of the 16th Century, from places such as modern day CongoAngolaGambiaNigeriaCameroonLiberiaGhanaIvory CoastGuineaSierra LeoneSenegal and Mali[4] to replace the rapidly declining Native American population. African slaves were forced to work in gold mines, on sugar cane plantationscattle ranches, and large haciendas. African labor was essential in all regions of Colombia, leading into modern times. African workers pioneered the extraction of alluvial gold deposits and the growing of sugar cane in the areas that correspond to the modern day departments of ChocóAntioquiaCaucaValle del Cauca, and Nariño in western Colombia.

In eastern Colombia, near the cities of VélezCúcutaSocorro and Tunja, Africans manufactured textiles in commercial mills. Emerald mines outside of Bogotá relied on African laborers. Other sectors of the Colombian economy, like tobaccocottonartisanry and domestic work would have been impossible without African labor. In pre-abolition Colombian society, many Afro-Colombian captives fought the Spanish and their colonial forces for their freedom as soon as they arrived in Colombia.

Those who escaped from their oppressors would live in free Black African towns called Palenques, where they would live as Cimarrones. Some historians consider Chocó to be a very big palenque, with a large population of Cimarrones, especially in the areas of the Baudó RiverCimarrón leaders like Benkos Biohó and Barule fought for freedom. African people played key roles in the struggle for independence from Spain. Historians note that three of every five soldiers in Simon Bolívar‘s army were African[5]. Afro-Colombians were able to participate at all levels of military and political life.

In 1851, the life of Afro-Colombians was very difficult. Afro-Colombians were forced to live in the jungles for self-protection. There, they learned to have a harmonious relationship with the jungle environment and share the territory with Colombia’s indigenous people.

From 1851, the Colombian State promoted the ideology of mestizaje, or miscegenation. In order to maintain their cultural traditions, many Africans and indigenous peoples went deep into isolated jungles. Afro-Colombians and indigenous people were often targeted by armed groups who wanted to displace them in order to take their land for sugar cane plantationscoffee and banana plantationsmining and wood exploitation. This form of discrimination still occurs today.[6]

In 1945 the department of El Chocó was created, the first predominantly African political-administrative division in the country. El Chocó provided the possibility of building an African territorial identity and some autonomous decision-making power.[7]

African Colombians