ATLANTA, GA.  February 2nd, 2009


Bridging the Gap & Building the Bridge – The Summary

By Maynard Eaton

But through all that has been said and written and done in these years, there runs a common theme. Unity is the accepted goal. We argue about the techniques and tactics. But when semantics are stripped away, there is little argument among us. We are determined to create a union of Africans.” –Emperor Haile Selasie

The gap has narrowed; the bridge is being built. The breach between Africa and the African Diaspora – the sixth region of Africa – is closing because of the global economic crisis and the visionary leadership of the African Heritage Foundation.


The second annual USAfrica Economic Development Conference and Expo proved that the connectivity between Africans and African-Americans is no longer a pipe-dream; no longer a dream deferred.


“The conference represents the emergence of people and nations of the world thinking of global unity; thinking of a global economic upsurge,” said Chief Tunde Adetunji, President/CEO of the Africa World Museum and the African Heritage Foundation. “There was also a plethora of ideas and networking. The environment has changed dramatically because of Barack Obama. This conference was unique and different.”


Dr. Gerald Durley, senior pastor of Providence Missionary Baptist Church in Atlanta and a key figure in the election of President Obama concurs that this conference amounted to a transformative milestone.


“Your idea of “Bridging the Gap and Building the Bridge” was a concept whose time had come,” said Durley who lived in Nigeria from 1964 to 1966. “For far too long the Africans in the Diaspora and those who remain on the continent of Africa have been separated for a number of historic reasons. Anyone can point the finger of blame as to what created the schism, but because of your vision we can begin to make a difference by bringing people together to once again become the economic, political and educated people whom God created them to be. The vision will only become a reality when we, as you have suggested, stop using excuses for our not working together. You and I have spoken continuously about the involvement of city, county, and state agencies to become active partners to insure that this program becomes a viable force for needed and desired change among African people.”


The conference riveted, inspired, informed and impressed its vast array of participants. “We appreciate the efforts you have undertaken to highlight Africa’s cause particularly in these trying times and pray that you will continue to be the one voice that resonates amongst many,” said David Ochwangi, chairman of the Kenyan Community of Atlanta, to Chief Tunde. “It is obvious that Africa’s best days lie ahead and with your help seem more and more within reach.”


That was underscored by the powerful presence and influence of representatives of the highly regarded African Union. Their participation legitimized the clout and cause of Chief Tunde and the African Heritage Foundation.


“For the African Union representative to be there, it endorses the conference’s longevity,” said Chief Tunde. “It takes the conference beyond any other conference because already there is a communiqué to be issued. His presence has defined this conference as the solution to African problems and the solution to Diaspora problems. Now the creation of the sixth region of Africa is imminent. And the endorsement that the present situation in America has given to this conference has stabilized the Diaspora as not only the sixth region, but also a viable region that will make significant contributions to African development. This conference has really redeemed the Diaspora to be one of the key players in African sustainable investment and development. And that is exactly what Africa needs.”


What speakers and conference participants such as former Atlanta Mayor and United Nations Ambassador Andrew Young continually emphasized is that given the international economic stability Africa is the missing link in our global economy.


“Africa is fast becoming the attraction of the world. Africa is indeed on the threshold of great advances,” said Francis Atuche, CEO of Platinum-Habib Bank in remarks to the conference. “Africa represents a land of largely untapped natural and human resources. Coming together in this fashion is a great way of bridging the socio-cultural and economic divide between Africa and Africans in Diaspora. Africans themselves hold the key for unlocking the potentials inherent and therefore should take responsibility for the development of Africa.”

Chief Tunde adds, “What came out of this is the signal that the conference sends is that there is need mutual cooperation and understanding in order to move things forward. We must now move into the area of practicalization. The relationship between Africa and America has taken a new dimension from what has happened before. Definitely there are so many Presidents that have made visits to Africa but they have not gone beyond that. Now it has become necessary because America is in need and Africa is in need. What America has, Africa doesn’t have it. What Africa has, America does not have it. Actions are exactly what make this particular conference different. As much as America has demonstrated total change in choosing a forward looking administration then something is really going to happen.”