The 2010 Pan African Summit began to encourage unity between African Americans and Africans born in Africa. The Summit held at the North Minneapolis Center for Families started with a continental breakfast with a large array of choices. Some were happy that coffee was available as one community member stated he could not start his day without coffee! People slowly filled the large room filled with chairs. I sensed a great energy amongst the attendee’s and presenters. I also sensed some apprehension about what to expect from the Summit.
The first presenter Mr. Gerald Montgomery spoke on a new ideology that African Americans are truly American Africans because we are Africans born in America. This was enlightening to me because I truly have always wished for a connection with my true origin. I know that I come from God, but from some reason God created different ethnicities. I believe I am an American African for a purpose, for God’s purpose and I have never been ashamed of that. I have never been ashamed of my dark skin even though I was teased by other American Africans, some even darker than I am. I don’t know if my childhood tears were for myself or for them because they were so lost. This new ideology started the day off just right because the Africans and African Americans were now connected. We are all African, but some Africans are Ghanaian Africans and some are American Africans, etc. Whether we agree or disagree, Mr. Montgomery’s ideas are something to consider.
We then had a break, and we went to fill up on goodies leftover from breakfast. Some of us talked and networked, others scanned the information booths ranging from fine smelling oils to health services.
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We were called back to order by the facilitator dressed impeccably in an African afghan. Drumming and dance led us into lunch and the attendees enjoyed all traditional African and African American favorites. During lunch Pam White the founder of the Health Empowerment Resource (HER) Center located at the Center for Families spoke of the great need to improve our health as a people. Our eating and sexual habits are literally killing us. She encouraged us to make our favorite foods healthier to increase our lifespan. She also gave riveting facts of how Acquired Immune Deficiency (AIDS) is thought of as the Black woman’s disease now because Black women are contracting the disease at an alarming rate. My thought is that we need to know these statistics, but we have to also focus on the positive of our race and seek solutions.
Later, Dr. Kofi Mensah a senior fellow at General Mills presented tools for building the bond between Africans and American Africans. Dr. Mensah reminded us that we are naturally bonded. We have the same ancestry and we have similar responses to medications. He suggests that unifying will increase the networking opportunities, support for our businesses, and we will have greater power in rallying for social change. The main tool in unifying is to ignore prejudices and seek to focus on the other person’s truth.
During the breakout sessions, each group was able to address some of the prejudices felt against one another and false beliefs. I left with understanding that each group should learn the history of the other and stop making assumptions. I believe each attendee was enlightened by the 2010 Pan African Summit and left feeling a little more powerful than before because of the new knowledge acquired.
Let me end with stating that I did not go to the Summit with the intention of writing a summary article, but the event was so great! I had to write on the outcome in the hope of encouraging those in the future to become involved in the mission of reconciling the differences between all Africans no matter where they were born.