The National Summit on Africa is an effort developed to increase American awareness and understanding of Africa. Create closer links with African focused groups and to draft a plan of action for the United States foreign policy and private sector leading into the new millenium.
I was born in Nairobi, Kenya and I am always very proud that I was born in Africa. As soon as this idea of having a summit was brought to my attention, I did everything possible to make this summit a success in the Bay Area. There were two important committees chosen in the Bay Area linked to the summit, the Funding Committee and the Parallel Programs committee, I served on both of them and gave these committees my undivided attention.
An important aspect of the Summit on Africa which totally impressed me was the deliberative process. Five important and interrelated themes form the soul of the deliberative process and they are:
-- Economic Development, Trade and
-- Democracy and Human Rights
-- Sustainable Development, Quality
-- Peace and Security
-- Education and Culture
The main summit took place at the Westin, Saint Francisco on Union Square in San Francisco on June 4 and 5. The Parallel Programs were all held on June 3 and 4. June 6 was set aside to feature award wining films on Africa at the Koret Auditorium, San Francisco Library.
The high light of the summit was the key note address by Congressman Ron Dellums, who is my very good friend and with whom I worked on issues pertaining to Military Base Closures. He is now President, Health Care International Management Company and resides in Oakland.
Normally, Congressman Dellums a very articulate orator very much respected in the House and Senate is known for his speeches on Defense and International Issues linked to security. Congressman Dellums stunned everyone by talking at length about AIDS in Africa.
Millions are dying of AIDS is Africa today, more so, because Africa does not have the required Infrastructure and Medical Technology in place to cater to the health of millions. Logistically and humanly speaking this scenario is mind boggling. How ever the West continues to ignore this vast and soul searching problem.
In fact, Congressman Dellums was bold enough to state that all the deliberations of the Summit on Africa would be of no use if they were no people in Africa to take advantage of the good that came from the various summits leading to the main Summit on Africa to be held in Washington in the year 2000.
"Where will you take your resolutions and your ideas if there is no one to work with in Africa. It is important that we address the question of AIDS on a war footing and save Africa from total chaos and destruction" Congressman Dellums emphasized.
The mortality age has dropped to 40 years in many African countries. Children are forced to take care of the families because adults are dying. In doing so millions of young people drop out of school. Africa will soon be a Nation of Children. Children without education and they will NOT be able to participate in the progress that Africa needs because they will not have the education and the skills.
Congressman Dellums has an idea to create a 2 billion dollar pool to tackle the AIDS problems in Africa as we did the Marshall Plan in Europe. Africa is the home of the first people and human origin. Today, we should reach out and help Africa and make a difference.
America has certain standards when it reacts to Europe as we see today in Kosovo. It surely did not react the same way when millions were killed in Africa. America had the ability to save millions just through sheer diplomacy, but we did not. America permitted millions to die in vain in Africa during several civil wars over the past 5 years.
This plan as visualized by Congressman Dellums mandates the operation to be in place in the countries of Africa. Africans with help from experts from all over the world should operate this plan. Congress Dellums clearly stated the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and others have been a failure because they went into Africa with a hidden agenda. The Board of Directors of this new plan should be women and men of the caliber of Nelson Mandela, other trusted world leaders.
Right now there is a bill initiated by Congresswoman Barbara Lee from Oakland, to create a pool of 20 million dollars. Another 20 million to be matched by private funding to confront the adverse impacts of AIDS in Africa. I thought this idea is great and will work with several entities linked to Africa helping this idea come to fruition.
Africans, African-Americans, and Americans in general participated at this Summit on Africa. Again and again, it was mentioned that only in San Francisco did we have such a diverse population. Only is San Francisco did the organizers see people from every Nation participate for the common goal to help Africa.
The deliberative sessions at this Summit on Africa were excellent. On the final day most of the sessions which began around 11 a.m. went on till 3 in the morning the following day. We are all looking forward to see the final draft report on this great Summit on Africa held in San Francisco. Truly a summit to be remembered.
Delegates from the 8 western states participated in this summit and chose their delegates to go to Washington. California chose 208 delegates and I am one of them.
I played an important part in choosing the Chair and the vice chair that will head the California delegates to Washington. Dr Ramona Tascoe, MD will be our chairperson. Nunu Kidane, Africa Director, International Development Exchange will be one of the vice chairs. The other two vice chairs hail from Southern California and Central California. We were the only Region to select one Chair and three vice chairs to give fair representation to everyone in this great State of California.
The high light of this Summit on Africa held in San Francisco was the visit of the Mayor of Soweto, Nandi Mayathula-Khoza. My good friend Shane Eagleton carved a special carving as a gift from the people of San Francisco to Nelson Mandela and the people of South Africa. The Mayor of Soweto agreed to present it to Nelson Mandela. Shane also carved another one of his master pieces personally for the Mayor of Soweto.
The Mayor of Soweto a very intelligent person and myself had several important talks on many pertinent issues facing Africa. Her speech made at City Hall said it all. She covered practically every issue important to Africa, health, children, women, government, infrastructure, technology, and so on and so forth.
Mayor Willie Brown the honorary Chairperson of the Summit on Africa did everything possible to help make this summit a great success.
The photographs that you all will see speak for themselves. We all look forward to deliberating as delegates before we go to Washington, February 2000.
Through the kindness of Mr Henry Dakin several people who could not participate at this important summit were allowed to participate. Shane Eagleton helped spread his love by offering his carved master pieces. Others helped the conference by supporting our common efforts as can be done only in San Francisco.
June 6, the Mayor of Soweto met with some invited guests at a reception held at 827 Guerrero Street, the John MuMullen House and Garden. At this gathering the Mayor of Soweto answered in detail many questions about the social, political, educational, health, and so on pertaining to Soweto and the general area that comes under her jurisdiction. Towards the end of this reception the South African students from the Bay Area presented the Mayor a check to be used for her favorite charity.
Initially many wrote off the Summit on Africa because the planning was introduced just three months ago. All of us at the grass roots level had three weeks to work hard. The people of San Francisco once again proved to the world that we can do anything and do it right.