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The Mass Media

African Union Ambassador for U.S. Visits UMass Boston

Dr.+Jemadari+Kamara+%28left%29%2C+Dr.+Chihombori+%28center%29%2C+and%26%23160%3BDr.+Joyce+Hope+Scott%2C+leader+of+the+Boston+Pan-African+Forum%2C+address+the+UMass+Boston+and+BU+community+in+Ryan+Lounge.

Dr. Jemadari Kamara (left), Dr. Chihombori (center), and Dr. Joyce Hope Scott, leader of the Boston Pan-African Forum, address the UMass Boston and BU community in Ryan Lounge.

On Oct. 6, Dr. Arikana Chihombori-Quao visited faculty, students, and scholars at Ryan Lounge in McCormack Hall at the University of Massachusetts Boston. Dr. Chihombori, currently the African Union Ambassador to the United States, has been awarded with prestigious awards for her humanitarian efforts to improve health care systems and elevate women’s rights in Africa.

Dr. Chihombori was elected on Dec. 1, 2016 by Dr. Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma, the Chairperson of the African Union Commission to the U.S.

Dr. Chihombori, was most notably awarded 20 years ago at a conference organized by Presidents Nelson Mandela (South Africa) and Robert Mugabe (Zimbabwe), and is now planning to continue to pursue her efforts as part of the African Union’s mission.

“For a change, we need to take a position,” said Chihombori to the crowd.

UMass Boston’s Center for African, Caribbean, and Community Development (CACCD) and the Africana studies department were among the sponsors of the event, held as part of Boston’s annual Pan-African Forum. Chihombori was formally introduced by Professor Jemadari Kamara, director of the CACCD. The event was also in collaboration with the African Studies Center at Boston University, meaning students and faculty from BU were also in attendance.

According to Dr. Kamara, the event was first held during Mandela’s reign as an organized coalition against the Apartheid system in South Africa.

“Eliminating that system there… there’s an inextricable link between our common struggles here and in the continent of Africa,” said Dr. Kamara, speaking on behalf of the African and African American community.  

In 1948, the National Party gained power over South Africa’s government and immediately started enforcing segregation laws: apartheid.

“The level of damage done to South Africa was unbelievable by its white leaders,” a scholar added. “A lot of people can see echoes of the common Black struggle, and it was especially prominent in the 1960s,” he said.

“It is important for us to also recognize our local needs as a community,” said Dr. Chihombori.

As a former medical doctor, Dr. Chihombori said that throughout her career, what she has always been certain of is the results that community efforts have in “connecting Africa and the Diaspora.”

Dr. Willard Johnson,  a well-noted academic scholar and professor of political science and African studies at MIT, said that Boston’s community needs to have a continued conversation about the Pan-African movement.

“I am saying this to put a little pressure on you,” said Dr. Johnson.

Dr. Chihombori said that in order for African countries to remain independent, financially and politically stable nations, African leaders must “not rely on our bad leaders to bleed all over our country. Africa is not a country at war, all of this is not our making… We don’t have a choice but to unite our African people,” she added.