On Thursday 29th September 2011 a reception was held at the UK Parliament. The theme of the reception was
Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and the Role of the UK African Diaspora
The reception was hosted by AFRICA -UK working in partnership with Comic Relief and the Royal African Society their objectives are to
- to increase the role of the Diaspora in Africa’s development
- to ensure that the Diaspora inform debates about development priorities for Africa
- and to foster greater dialogue and engagement between policy makers and UK-based Africans working in development
These were the opening remarks from the organisers
In 2000, 189 nations made a promise to free people from extreme poverty and multiple deprivations. This pledge became the eight Millennium Development Goals to be achieved by 2015. In September 2010, the world recommitted itself to accelerate progress towards these goals. ‘‘At the midway point between their adoption in 2000 and the 2015 target date for achieving the MDGs, Sub-Saharan Africa is not on track to achieve any of the Goals.”(United Nations, Africa, & the Millennium Development Goals, 2007)
What is the role of Africa’s Diaspora in helping Africa accelerate and attain the MDGs by the target date of 2015?
The speaker was Amalia Navarro from the UN Millennium Campaign. She spoke passionately and frankly about the Goals, precisely that the goals will not be met and that the UN overlooked the diaspora in that conversation.
She also seemed to be saying “Yes we messed up but we need to look beyond2015” and was keen to engage us on what I would like to call an “the After party”
She asked the question WHAT CAN THE AFRICAN DIASPORA BRING TO THE CONVERSATION ABOUT MDGs in the same breath as she said WHERE ARE THE AFRICAN DIASPORA AND WHY AREN’T THEY JOINING IN ON THE CONVERSATION?
I did wonder where she was looking for the African diaspora or whom she was talking to.
What I found interesting was that at least 3 people in the room asked the speaker the following questions
- What does the UN want from the African Diaspora?
- How can the African Diaspora join the conversation?
- What is the UN doing to engage the diaspora
But she didn’t seem to have an answer to any of those questions and instead told us to join civil societies in order to join the conversation on MDGs and even then she could name one such society that we could all join.
I made the assumption that she meant the large NGOs but like many in the room that evening I am not aware of any large NGOs that seek out or engage the African diaspora, do you??
As it is we are ahead of the UN we got fed up being invited to the conversation and started our own VILLAGES IN ACTION . We have also had a conversation about what the point of the UN is. We have a very good idea as to why the MDGs will not be achieved and this is not because we have picked up a book, No we have gone back to our villages and engaged with the folk we left behind. These are the people in the know, if you take time out they will tell you how you cannot solve poverty without sacrificing the environment in some way , they see and experience environmental degradation first hand.
The question for the UN is how to reach such folk! But it isn’t that hard really- TALK TO THE AFRICAN DIASPORA