On March 5, 2018 the African Union Mission had its first official Africa Talks Town Hall Series moderated by Ebony McMorris. Special guest speakers included singer and songwriter, Akon, and the author of the graphic novel, Black Panther, Jesse Holland. The ambassador to African Union Mission, Arikana Chihombori-Quao, initiated a small media press conference with the two guest speakers.
Chihombori-Quao believes that change in Africa must be initiated by Africans.
“For true change to come to Africa it has to be brought by the Africans for the Africans,” said Quao, “because at this time, as the Africans, we are ready to build the Africa we want not the Africa that the rest of the world has wanted.”
Soon after Chihombori-Qua’s brief opening to the impromptu press conference, Akon added that that it is of “strong importance” that members of the diaspora be informed and band together.
Akon said that “The movement that we create is necessary to not only be demonstrated, but to motivate Africans around of the world.”
When Akon was asked where people should focus the majority of their energy, he responded that the majority of the energy should be focused on addressing the needs of the diaspora.
“The majority of the energy needs to be focused on the diaspora,” Akon said, “I think it's going to be the diaspora who brings forth the knowledge, the know how, and the resources to the continent as far as the development stage. We need to get Africans and African Americans to learn more about the continent.
Akon also feels that the Chinese have done nothing to develop the continent of Africa.
“My take on the Chinese, I work with them,” Akon said, “they’re one of the few groups of people who took initiative to do something. There has been colonization from many different cultures in Africa but unfortunately they [the chinese] did nothing to develop the continent.”
Akon also believes that Africa has been stripped of many of its resources and that it has not been developed by many of its past colonizers.
Akon believes that creative mediums like movies and television will help youth to become more interested in learning about African culture and history.
At the event, the author of Black Panther was introduced by the ambassador.
Chihombori-Quao briefly spoke about the Marvel film, Black Panther.
“You've got to see this film this is portraying the Africa that we want,” Chihombori-Quao said, “I encourage you to rush to see it. This is the utopia that Africa is.”
Holland stated that it is “incredible” to be apart of a movement that portrays Africa as a utopia. The Black Panther author said that this film was a great way to look at Africa in a “new light”.
During the panel discussion, Akon described the continent of Africa as a mother that gives and often times is taken from, but continues to give to her children ( the other world powers that utilize Africa's resources).
He then stated that the continent of Africa is the “most” powerful continent but that its progression is hindered by division. He believes that if Africans and those who are of African descent put more effort into developing the continent, then it would become a “superpower”.
Jesse Holland spoke about why the diaspora should unite. He stated that the film became a “worldwide phenomena”. He said that he was honored to have been given the opportunity by Marvel to update the 1960s comic of the Black Panther.
“If you got to see the film in the opening week you got to see African Americans at their finest,” said Holland, “but most importantly if you looked around the theater during the film you could see the pride.”
He stated that the narrative in Black Panther is something that is rare for African Americans because they are always apart of someone else's story. “We are seeing a story that is told by people who look like us and with people that look like us and that is something that we need more than anything right now.”
The author sad that the film helped to improve the established portrayal of Africa and that it also helped to satisfy a “yearning” for this story.
The Black Panther character, who was made popular by comic-book writer Stan Lee, has now been adapted by both Holland and director Ryan Coogler.
“The incredible thing for me in this whole Black Panther movement is how ready we are in America for Wakanda to be real,” said Holland.
Holland, like Akon, stated that all that people of African descent need to unite and come together to bring the vision of an ideal African Utopia to reality. He believes that it will require thought, teamwork, and unity to bring the idea to life.
At the end of the event, the panel answered discussion questions from audience members.
When asked how to implement a way to touch people consciously, Holland stated that conversation is the first step to implementing a conscious mindset.
When asked if the Black Panther’s perpetual nemesis, “Killmonger”, was officially dead, reluctantly said that “Killmonger” is the only character that the Black Panther could not kill.
When asked “where do we [black people] go from here in the future to be better than our sharecropper ancestors?” Holland responded that “ We need to take this conversation out of the movie theaters and take it to our community centers and to our schools.. It's time for us to start taking care of us.”
Ambassador Chihombori-Quao was addressed with the same question.
“When i was asked to be the ambassador to the Americas,” Chihombori-Quao responded, “my instructions were to pave the way for members of the diaspora to participate into the development of Africa.”
She then revealed that the African Union mission is in the process of creating an African Diaspora Investment Fund. The fund will allow descendants of the African Diaspora to donate and in fact “own a piece of their Africa”.
“Your donation money will be working for you in your Africa,” The ambassador said, “this way we can create jobs for ourselves and have contracts through ourselves… We as Black people are very wealthy and we do not need aid any more.”